How Mentally Tough Are You? There’s Now a 10-Question Quiz for That

Photo: Getty Images/Alys Tomlinson
When I was training for the New York Marathon, my desire for the elusive skill known as "mental toughness" reached an all-time-high. Oxford Reference defines the trait—nay, superpower, really— as "a quality of mind or intellect characterized by, among other things, a refusal to be intimidated, a determination to finish a contest even when things are going badly, and an ability to control emotions and remain highly focused when under the pressure of intense competition."

Obviously, it's an invaluable trait on race day, but it also goes a long way at the office and, like, when you're waiting in line for coffee. And now, you can take a 10-question quiz to determine how much mental fortitude you already possess.

In the past, the quiz, known as the 48-Item Mental Toughness Questionnaire (or MTQ-48), had been shortened to 18 questions (making it the MTQ-18). This week, a research team led by Neil Dagnall, PhD, of the University of Manchester confirmed that a new, 10-question version can accurately pinpoint a person's mental toughness, reports Psychology Today. In short, you can now litmus test your mental flexing faster than you can fill out the forms at the DMV.

Each MTQ version asks the participants to respond to "I" statements (like, "I generally feel in control") that correspond with what are known as the "4Cs." This model was designed by Peter Clough, PhD, and comprises four interrelated personality factors that make someone "mentally tough": committment, challenge, control, and confidence. According to Dr. Dagnall's study, "Commitment or 'stickability' is perseverance and the ability to carry out tasks successfully, despite problems/obstacles. Challenge designates the degree to which individuals see challenges as opportunities for self-development. Control denotes the extent to which the individual believes they have influence over their life (the external environment) and emotions (internal states). Finally, confidence embodies self-belief to complete successfully tasks, particularly confidence in abilities (individual qualities) and interpersonal confidence (being assertive and less likely to be intimidated in social contexts)."

The study authors shared the ten questions with Well+Good via email. So if you're ready to know your score, consider how much you identify with the following phrases on a scale of one to five (five being the most "it me!"). The closest your final score tracks to 50, the more mentally tough you are.

1. "Even when under considerable pressure I usually remain calm."
2. "I tend to worry about things well before they actually happen."
3. "I usually find it hard to summon enthusiasm for the tasks I have to do."
4. "I generally cope well with any problems that occur."
5. "I generally feel that I am a worthwhile person."
6. "I just don’t know where to begin' is a feeling I usually have when presented with several things to do at once."
7. "When I make mistakes, I usually let it worry me for days after."
8. "I generally feel in control."
9. "I am generally able to react quickly when something unexpected happens."
10. "I generally look on the bright side of life."

If you're not 100-percent thrilled with your score, consider this: Dr. Dagnall and his team speculate that mental toughness is "plastic," "trainable," and "malleable." You don't come out of the womb with the same amount of brain swole that you'll possess on your death bed, and this questionnaire gives you an idea of which of the 4C dimensions come naturally to you and which you could develop (if you so desire). In other words, it's an exercise in self-discovery—not in your competency to, say, run 26.2 miles.

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