Mentally Strong People Podcast


I enjoyed speaking with Amy Morin about my awkward childhood, how non-awkward people can better understand their awkward friends, why blushing is not a bad thing, and other topics. You can click below to hear the podcast episode, and you can find Amy's excellent trio of books and more Mentally Strong People podcast episodes at


Research Notes. For this interview, I wanted to revisit research about the association between awkwardness and perseverance. Amy is a leading expert about mentally strong people and one component of mental strength is perseverance.

In socially awkward people, their tendency to develop obsessive interests about something they love, whether it's chess, math, or Star Wars, means that they show tremendous perseverance while trying to understand or master a topic in the face of challenges. Their intense interests and willingness to persevere through setbacks can lead to extraordinary achievements. 

One of my favorite studies comes from Pedro Vital and colleagues who was interested in the children who exhibit extraordinary mastery of a task or what vital called "striking skill." They analyzed data from more than 6000 pairs of twins, and they found that the most important factor associated with developing striking skill was the perseverance associated with the children's passionate interest.

“Vital found that 17 percent of children were identified with a striking skill compared to older children, but the most interesting findings concerned which factors were most strongly associated with having a striking skill. Although 33 percent of the children identified as having a striking skill also had high IQ scores, the factor most strongly related to their skill was the children’s level of obsessive interests.”

Excerpt From: Awkward: The Science of Why We're Socially Awkward and Why That's Awesome



In these research notes, I'll share an insight or two I stumbled across while preparing for an interview. Because of time constraints, the spontaneous flow of conversation, or editing, the content from these research notes may not appear in the final product. But I hope some folks will find something interesting or useful in these notes.