Mental Toughness Concept & Questionnaire

The Benefits of using the Mental Toughness Concept and Questionnaire within Individual and Organisational Development

Background and Introduction

Mental Toughness describes the mindset that every person adopts in everything they do. It is closely related to qualities such as character, resilience, grit, etc. It is defined as:
“A personality trait which determines, in large part, how people respond to challenge, stress and pressure, irrespective of their circumstances”.

mental strength compressor
Most personality models and measures assess the behavioural aspects of Personality (how we act). Mental Toughness differs in that it assesses something more fundamental – “how we think”. In other words, why we act (and respond emotionally) to events. It enables us to understand mindset in a very practical way.

Published research and case studies from around the world show that Mental Toughness is a major factor in:


explaining up to 25% of the variation in performance in individuals

Positive Behaviour

more engaged, more positive, more “can do”


more contentment, better stress management, less prone to bullying


more ambitious, prepared to manage more risk

It is important in applications in virtually every sector. In the world of work, it is key for leadership and staff development – particularly within change programmes – as well as in talent management programmes. It is also widely used for developing young people in education and in youth work.

Research carried out under the direction of Professor Peter Clough of Huddersfield University has identified the four key components (constructs) of Mental Toughness. These are called the 4 Cs.

In 2017, work by Doug Strycharczyk, Dr John Perry & Professor Clough, allowed the concept to be expanded to 8 factors to be understood and assessed around the 4Cs. This is shown below:
Mental Toughness Scale
What does MTQ48 assess
Life Control – I really believe I can do it
Emotional Control – I can manage my emotions and the emotions of others
Goal Orientation – I set goals – I like the idea of working toward goals
Achievement Orientation – I’ll do what it takes to keep my promises and achieve my goals
Risk Orientation – I welcome new and different experiences – I stretch myself
Learning Orientation – I learn from what happens – including setbacks
In Abilities – I believe I have the ability to do it – or can acquire the ability
Interpersonal Confidence – I can influence others – I can stand my ground if needed

We are also able to assess mental toughness in terms of these components in individuals and groups through a range of unique high-quality psychometric measures in the MTQ product family. They are normative which enables users to assess mental toughness before and after an event such as a training & development or coaching programme. Importantly this means that we can evaluate the effectiveness of programmes in a valuable way. If we can see a change in mindset we can more confidently expect to see changes in behaviour. 

Major Applications

The Mental Toughness Framework and the questionnaire enable users to gain a valuable insight into the mindset of individuals before development activity begins. The most significant applications include:

Assessment of Individuals before a program begins

Not all attendees at a training/development program or in a coaching program enter the program with a mindset that enables them to optimise that activity. At the extreme some individuals may even wish to avoid the activity. If the individual isn’t open to learning then they are likely to minimise their engagement with learning and are therefore unlikely to gain much form the investment and are unlikely to apply what they have been shown.

The reason for this can often be found in mindset and in particular the 8 factors. Different factors will apply to each individual.

Being able to assess this prior to an event is extremely valuable. Most concerns and issues can be addressed before a program which can improve significantly its success rate. Individuals often find this valuable too. Enabling them to welcome training and not fear it can be very motivating.

Incorporation into Programs

The Concept has a great deal of value as a component of many Development Programs. These include:


Understanding mindset lies at the heart of coaching and mentoring


Mental Toughness Development and Stress Management

Leadership Development

Resilience and positivity are key requirements in leadership

Team Building

understanding how Mentally Tough and mentally Sensitive Individuals can work together

Presentation Skills

overcoming the fear of presenting

Managing Change

dealing with the fear of the unknown/change

Evaluation of Program Effectiveness

An extremely important factor. Retesting individuals and groups on completion of development activity can be carried out soon after completion and before we can expect to see the predicted outcomes of training and development. If mindset hasn’t changed in the desired way then it is likely that the program outcomes may not be achieved. This is particularly important in change programs.
Re-testing can show:
Mental therapy

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