The Bright Side of the Dark Side: Associations Between Personality and Mental Toughness Among Beginning Teachers.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Central government and schools spend around £700 million year-on-year recruiting and training teachers, yet only 80% of NQTs enter the profession, and high attrition among beginning teachers is a prominent topic among policymakers. Although the government has made renewed commitment to providing high-quality support for beginning teachers, financial incentives and workload are the dominant focus, and individual differences in personality which may contribute to decision-making have been overlooked. This cross-sectional quantitative research examines relationships between adaptive and maladaptive aspects of personality and mental toughness among beginning teachers in England. The main aim is to advance understanding of why some beginning teachers thrive whilst others drop out. The study goes beyond most of the extant research by examining personality and mental toughness within the same framework, and by investigating personality at both factor and facet level. The dataset was collected via an online survey comprising HEXACO-60, the Short Dark Triad, and the 10-item Mental Toughness Questionnaire. The final sample was 130 participants, comprising 46 men and 84 women, with 76% aged 21 to 30. Mental toughness was found to correlate significantly and positively with extraversion, conscientiousness, and narcissism, as hypothesised. However, mediation analysis indicated that the relationship between narcissism and mental toughness operated entirely through the social-self-esteem facet of extraversion, providing some explanation for the brighter side of narcissism. Most notably, the results indicated that the joint manifestation of social self-esteem and mental toughness may be an underlying motivational mechanism which is central to the ability of beginning teachers to cope with the demands of the school day. The research makes an original contribution of knowledge within the fields of personality and educational psychology, and has important implications for training and retaining effective beginning teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTEAN
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • personality, extraversion, conscientiousness, narcissism, Dark Triad, mental toughness, trainee teachers, preservice teachers, beginning teachers, NQTs, ITE, motivation, teacher effectiveness, attrition, cybernetics


Dive into the research topics of 'The Bright Side of the Dark Side: Associations Between Personality and Mental Toughness Among Beginning Teachers.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this