"Mental Toughness is... the capacity for an individual to deal effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges and perform to the best of their abilities irrespective of the circumstances in which they find themselves"

What is Mental Toughness?

Mental toughness is the quality which determines in some part how people deal with challenge, stressors and pressure.

There is a very strong link between Mental Toughness issues like Stress Management and Peak Performance Development and behaviour. These are all interrelated.

MTQ48 provides a reliable and quick assessment of an individual's ability to withstand pressure in a range of environments. It measures mental toughness in terms of four core components - control, challenge, commitment and confidence.

For more information on MTQ48 you can View This Brochure

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Use & Applications

The key issues around Mental Toughness for individuals are:

  • What causes one person to succumb and another to thrive in the same circumstances?
  • Can we identify people's strengths and weaknesses in these areas?
  • Can we develop individuals to enable them to handle stressors like change, pressure and challenge more effectively?
  • How can we support individuals better with their specific needs?

    By understanding these issues, and applying the principles of Mental Toughness in the workplace, organisations are able to:

  • Develop strategies and tactics to help individuals perform under pressure.
  • Help managers get the best from their people.
  • Recruit more effectively around these key criteria.

    Measuring mental toughness using MTQ48 allows organisations to:

  • Accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of their people:
  • Build resilience in them.
  • Build teams that can deliver performance.
  • Enable effective coaching & development.

    This results in:

  • Better bottom line performance - stress is one of the largest causes of absenteeism.
  • Improved morale and better working environment.
  • Better ability to recruit people who can make it.
  • Reduced risk of stress related claims and awards.

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MTQ48 Development

Our research with Dr. Peter Clough C.Psych. identified four key components of Mental Toughness:

  • Control
  • Challenge
  • Commitment
  • Confidence

In 2002 a reliable and valid questionnaire emerged that measured these four different characteristics - MTQ48.

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What does MTQ Measure

The four sub scales are:

1. Control

Individuals who score high on this scale feel that they are in control of their work and of the environment in which they work. They are capable of exerting more influence on their working environment and are more confident about working in complex or multi-tasked situations. This means for example that, at one end of the scale individuals are able to handle lots of things at the same time. At the other end they may only be comfortable handling one thing at a time. Ongoing development of MTQ48 has enabled the identification of 2 subscales to this scale:

1.1 Control (Emotion) - Individuals scoring highly on this scale are better able to control their emotions. They are able to keep anxieties in check and are less likely to reveal their emotional state to other people.

1.2 Control (Life) - Individuals scoring higher on this scale are more likely to believe that they control their lives. They feel that their plans will not be thwarted and that they can make a difference. Scoring on this scale can also indicate self-worth.

2. Challenge

Describes the extent to which individuals see challenges as opportunities. Individuals who see them as opportunities will actively seek them out and will identify problems as ways for self-development. At the other end challenges are perceived as problems and threats.

So, for example, at one end of the scale we find those who thrive in continually changing environments. At the other end we find those who prefer to minimise their exposure to change and the problems that come with that - and will strongly prefer to work in stable environments.

3. Commitment

Sometimes described as "stickability", this describes the ability for an individual to carry out tasks successfully despite any problems or obstacles that arise whilst achieving the goal.

Consequently an individual who scores at the high end of the scale will be able to handle and achieve things to tough unyielding deadlines. Whereas an individual at the other end will need to be free from those kind of demands to achieve their goals.

4. Confidence

Individuals who are high in confidence have the self-belief to successfully complete tasks, which may be considered too difficult by individuals with similar abilities but with lower confidence. Less confident individuals are also likely to be less persistent and may make more errors.

For example, individuals at one end of the scale will be able to take setbacks (externally and self generated) in their stride. They keep their heads when things go wrong and it may even strengthen their resolve to do something. At the other end individuals will be unsettled by setbacks and will feel undermined by these. Their heads are said to "drop".

4.1 Confidence (Abilities) - Individuals scoring highly on this scale are more likely to believe that they are a truly worthwhile person. They are less dependent on external validation and tend to be more optimistic about life in general.

4.2 Confidence (Interpersonal) - Individuals scoring highly on this scale tend to be more assertive. They are less likely to be intimidated in social settings and are more likely to push themselves forward in groups. They are also better able to cope with difficult or awkward people.

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MTQ48 Reports

Once the questionnaire is completed the software generates 4 different reports, which all contain detailed explanations and instructions for their application.

For the individual:

Candidate Development Report provides clear feedback, as above, plus development suggestions and actions to improve performance on each scale.

Sample Report

For the Coach/Manager:

Assessment Report designed for recruitment, gives clear feedback on four scales and at least five questions on each scale to enable managers to probe specific scores more effectively.

Sample Report

Coaching Report gives clear feedback on 4 scales plus suggested coaching & development actions designed to compliment the development report and assist the manager/coach in guiding the individual more effectively.

Sample Report

For the Organisation:

Organisational Development Report - This analyses scores on each scale for selected groups to identify trends and patterns

Sample Report

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Applications & Context

This tool is particularly applicable for managers at all levels and for staff who are consistently working in a potentially stressful environment. This includes people exposed to change and challenge.

There are three major areas where this innovative measure will add considerable value. Firstly, in organisational development, where the organisation and one's peers/managers become aware of the potential causes of stress and pressure they are more able to plan and to act to minimise their impact.

It is also invaluable in coaching/development and in personal counselling - either to help people identify and cope with problems or to show people how they can be more effective in key areas.

The challenge lies in identifying what might be the causes of stress and pressure for each individual and to help the individual to become aware of these. Awareness leads to understanding, which, in turn, can lead to positive action - and improved performance.

Finally as a tool in Recruitment and Selection - enabling better fit with a critical area for good job performance. It is now widely used in Assessment and Development Centres.

For case studies on these and other applications please see our download page.

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Widening Applications - in the Social, Health and Education Sectors

MTQ48 was published in 2002 and was originally developed for application in the occupational sector and the sports sector (where lay its origins). There are clear applications in the workplace - stress management, developing peak performance, career guidance, etc.

Since that time a number of projects have emerged which have taken the Mental Toughness model into new areas and new applications.

It is now clear that the Mental Toughness Model, the questionnaire and the developmental material has applications much wider than originally envisaged and takes us into the following sectors:


Very strong evidence has emerged that, for instance:

  • Mental toughness is positively correlated with educational attainment levels
  • Mental Toughness is associated with performance and behaviour in the classroom.
  • Career aspirations are closely related to Mental Toughness
  • Mental Toughness is related to reported bullying. The higher the level of mental toughness, the less likely that bullying is reported.
  • Another hypothesis currently being examined is that student performance is associated with the Mental Toughness of the teacher/tutor and/or parents.
  • In Further Education, Mental Toughness is closely related to drop out levels. MTQ48 is very good at predicting which students are at risk

Much of this is currently being explored worldwide in a series of major projects. Without fail the original study results are being confirmed


Evidence is emerging that, for instance:

  • Mental Toughness is directly associated with diet - the more mentally tough you are the more likely you are to eat a better diet.
  • Mental Toughness is directly associated with physical fitness - the more mentally tough you are the more likely you are to maintain a healthy discipline
  • The more mentally tough you are, the quicker you will recover from trauma/illness/surgery - all things being equal.

Major projects to explore these areas are planned for 2008.


Evidence is emerging that for instance: Mental Toughness is associated with anti-social behaviour - and this might apply to the mental toughness of the individual, their parents or guardians and even case workers where these are involved.

The more mentally tough you are, the less likely you are to be affected by bullying The hypothesis now being tested is - "does developing mental toughness improve matters in these areas?" The prognosis appears to be good

What does seems to be emerging is that Mental Toughness does help us to understand a key aspect of human behaviour - how we deal with the world around us - particularly where there are stressors, challenges and pressures. This has applications wherever this is a factor.

Given that the model is a positive one - we can understand Mental Toughness; we can measure it and we can do something about it - this suggests that we are developing a model and supporting tools to help a lot of people in a lot of areas.

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Using MTQ48

MTQ48 can be used in 2 formats, these are:

On-line Administration

MTQ48 is now available in a fully on-line format. This enables clients to set up and complete MTQ48 assessments on-line. All reports can also be generated and downloaded from the website

This means that MTQ48 administration can be handled remotely and reports can be emailed anywhere in the world.

Paper & Pencil

A hard copy version of the questionnaire is completed and then data is entered into the software using the on-screen facility. This enables the questionnaire to be completed:

  • By several people at one time
  • At remote locations where a PC is not available or
  • Data can be entered at another time
  • There is also an electronic version of the questionnaire available if required.
  • General Information

The questionnaire takes about 7 minutes to complete (although it is not timed). Data can then be processed within minutes and reports generated instantly. It is possible to complete the whole cycle in 10 minutes.

All reports, are produced in PDF format which can be easily emailed or stored for future reference MTQ48 is available in a wide range of languages

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Features and benefits of MTQ48

  • One of the world's first measures of mental toughness
  • Reliable and Valid
  • Generates 4 different reports
  • Efficient - takes less than 7 minutes
  • Extremely cost effective
  • Available in on-line, and paper and pencil format
  • Uses everyday language
  • No Licence fee, cost effective.
  • Well supported.
  • Can operate instrument after only 1 day's accredited user training.
  • Developed by leading psychometricians.

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Mental Toughness Development Programmes

Designed specifically to help people develop Mental Toughness; the programme has been developed in conjunction with Dr Peter Clough from the University of Hull. The concept creates an understanding of what stressors are and how people and groups can best deal with them.
It has applications in performance development, behaviour modification, building confidence and stress management.

The programme can be in a variety of formats (See training and consultancy). Delivery as a group workshop or on a one-to-one coaching basis. Both formats are supported by a comprehensive workbook, which contains the entire programme content as well as descriptions of tools and techniques.

Broadly the content will include:

  • Understanding mental toughness
  • Putting stressors and challenges into context
  • Tools and techniques for managing stressors and challenges
  • Tools and techniques for coping with stressors and challenges
  • Understanding fatigue and its role in managing pressure
  • Team toughness - the role of teams in managing stressors and challenges
  • Creating plans that work for developing Mental Toughness

The programme takes a particularly proactive and applied approach to development. It makes use of:

  • MTQ48
  • A personality measure
  • Two fatigue questionnaires (state and trait)
  • Biofeedback equipment and techniques, including GSRII units (Galvanic Skin Response)

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Contact Us

Lynne or Paul Whitaker
Mob: 021 442 420
Ph: 07 576 6442
Fax: 07 576 6442
Email: info@mentaltoughness.co.nz

Number One In Team Building Programmes ~ NumberOneResource.co.nz

Content used with thanks to AQR, UK - the main developer and distributor of MTQ48