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Mental toughness: managerial and age differences

David C. Marchant (Department of Sport and Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK)
Remco C.J. Polman (Centre for Applied Sport and Exercise Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)
Peter J. Clough (Department of Psychology, The University of Hull, Hull, UK)
James G. Jackson (Psychology Department, Leeds Trinity & All Saints, Leeds, UK)
Andrew R. Levy (Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, The University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
Adam R. Nicholls (Department of Psychology, The University of Hull, Hull, UK)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 26 June 2009




The purpose of this study is to investigate whether employees at various levels of managerial positions (e.g. senior, middle, and junior) exhibit different levels of mental toughness. In addition, the study seeks to explore possible effects of age on mental toughness.


A total of 522 participants working in UK‐based organisations completed demographic information and the Mental Toughness Questionnaire.


Results revealed significant main effects for both managerial position and age. Follow‐up analysis revealed that mental toughness ratings were higher in more senior positions, and that mental toughness generally increased with age.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation of the study is its cross‐sectional design. Longitudinal studies investigating the development of mental toughness over time or the effect of mental toughness training are needed. It appears, however, that age plays a role in an individual's mental toughness profile. This suggests that increased exposure to significant life events may have a positive developmental effect on mental toughness.


The results of the study would suggest that mental toughness can be developed through appropriate training programmes.



Marchant, D.C., Polman, R.C.J., Clough, P.J., Jackson, J.G., Levy, A.R. and Nicholls, A.R. (2009), "Mental toughness: managerial and age differences", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 428-437.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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