Dr John Perry

Dr John Perry is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Limerick. Previously, John has held lecturing positions at several UK universities and most recently, was Head of Psychology at Mary Immaculate College in Ireland. John's primary research interests are in mental toughness, stress, and coping, all of which have direct implication for practitioners. He has contributed to many publications and delivered conference talks all over the globe. As a practitioner, John has significant experience working with sports teams and individuals, including professional football, golf, and GAA as well as with organisations in the world of work. For several years, John has been a core member of the team which has continued the development of the mental toughness concept and has been central to the work carried out to establish the reliability and validity of the concept and the mental toughness questionnaires. He has been a key figure in the development of the 8 factor iteration of the 4Cs model. This brings an important insight as to how resilience and positivity relate to each other and how this, in turn, helps to explain and understand ideas such as trust, curiosity, vulnerability, etc. John is also Product Development Director for AQR International and a member of the Global Advisory Board for Mental Toughness Research and development. John has authored the textbook 'Sport Psychology: A Complete Introduction'. John has co-authored 'Developing Mental Toughness: Strategies to Improve Performance, Resilience and Wellbeing in Individuals and Organizations'. He holds a MSc in Sports & Exercise Sciences from the University of Wales, Cardiff, and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Hull.

Mental Toughness: Placing resilience in context to create a "lens" shedding new insights on key issues in people development

Mental Toughness is a concept long understood to be important in people and organisation development.

It is a personality trait which describes how we respond mentally to stress, pressure, opportunity and challenge. Linked to meta-cognition, it explains in part how we think when events occur around us. In turn this helps us to understand why we behave the way we do.

With a provenance stretching back to Plato’s Fortitude and the Stoics, recent research carried by Dr Perry, Doug Strycharczyk and Professor Clough identified 8 factors which combine to create a picture of mental toughness and mental sensitivity.

These factors are closely related to

Resilience – our ability to recover from an adverse situation and

Positivity – our approach to life – seeing threat or opportunity in situations.

This allows us to consider resilience in a wider context than just a survival strategy. The interplay with positivity explains how we can do more – how we can prosper, first explored by Suzanne Kobasa in her work on Hardiness.

This granularity, the multidimensionality of Mental Toughness, is important and very useful to the practitioner and the researcher alike.

Firstly, there are many approaches exploring this area. The mental toughness concept has a capability to explain approaches such as mindset, grit, resilience, attitude, positive psychology, etc in one overarching concept.

Secondly, and very important from the practitioner’s and the leader’s perspective, the framework appears to work well as a “lens” through which other ideas, important for good practice in people can be understood – and how these play out to resilience and mental toughness.

The eight factors can examine issues such as leadership, teamworking, trust, psychological safety, curiosity, innovation, etc in a way that sheds new light and understanding on each and from more than one perspective. Doing so in a way that enables the connections between those issues to be understood too.

Usefully, a by-product of the research was the development of a psychometric measure – the MTPlus – which brings a capability for diagnosis and for evaluation to an aspect of personality otherwise very difficult to assess reliably.

The mental toughness concept is an “enabler” bring a capability to understand the complexity of human behaviour in an accessible way.

Attendees will:

Learn what mental toughness

Participate in an exercise which illustrates its application

Be able to discuss with those already using the concept the potential applications of the concept and the associated measure


Dr John Perry