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"Since the Mental Toughness Programme the Directors have shown a staggering degree of resilience and bravery"

The AQR defines mental toughness as:

The quality which determines, in some part, how people deal with challenges, stressors and pressure, irrespective of prevailing circumstances

Mental toughness enables individuals to remain focused and resilient, even in the face of the most demanding challenges, stresses and pressures. It is a key element of optimal performance in the workplace.

Mentally tough individuals have the ability to meet challenging objectives, multi-task, take control, accept responsibility, respond positively to change and stay motivated to achieve, no matter what the setbacks and interruptions.

An organisation that manages and fosters mental toughness in its people has a clearer strategy and sense of direction, greater productivity, more effective delivery, higher levels of innovation, combined with higher rates of retention, motivation and organisational cohesion.

The origins of mental toughness as a concept, which can be traced back to the 1950s, have traditionally been closely associated with sports psychology and achieving sporting excellence. Pioneering research by Dr Peter Clough at the University of Hull and TCA Consultants, the firm behind mental toughness psychometric testing specialists AQR, has enabled mental toughness to be effectively measured and applied in occupational environments, such the workplace, as well as in sports psychology. As a result, an individual’s mental toughness can be assessed and developed, enabling people to improve their mental toughness and increase their personal and professional performance.

Clough’s research demonstrates that mental toughness
can be categorised according to four key components:
  • Control is an indication of how comfortable an individual feels managing highly complex tasks, and is broken down into emotional control and life control


  • Commitment in an individual allows them to stick at a task regardless of barriers in their path
  • Challenge shows how individuals can turn threats into opportunities, often preferring to work in situations subject to ongoing change


  • Confidence provides individuals with the self belief to overcome setbacks and finish tasks successfully.

In association with TCA Consultants, Clough developed the MTQ48, a questionnaire first published in 2002 and which uniquely allows an individual’s mental toughness to be measured. Based on a person’s responses to the questionnaire, a score and report across the four key components can be developed.

These scores can be used to build personalised development programmes that enable people to increase their mental toughness. This in turn helps them improve their personal performance and the overall performance of the organisations to which they belong.

AQR provides those being assessed for mental toughness to access the MTQ48 questionnaire online, via their accredited practitioner. It has created sophisticated software that can automatically produce basic reports, which are further interpreted by a mental toughness practitioner as part of a feedback session.

Recent research by the Universities of Parma and Modena & Reggio has discovered a direct link between mental toughness and genetic and environmental influences. Brain scans have shown a correlation between areas of the brain and levels of mental toughness as identified by the MTQ48. This suggests some individuals have naturally higher levels of mental toughness and that mental toughness can be developed by environmental influences, such as a development programme.

The MTQ48 and resulting scores and reports can be used
to improve personal and organisational performance.
They can help achieve optimal results across every business
area, including selection and recruitment.

Mental toughness can be applied in:

Further information about the research by Dr Peter Clough and TCA Consultants and the MTQ48 can be found in our resources section.


To find out how a mental toughness programme created and delivered by JHK can optimise your personal and organisational performance, contact us now.