About Us


Research examining the importance of mental toughness across a broad range of contexts including sport, exercise, health and education. The focus is on both theoretical understanding and application of knowledge to enable people to learn how to cope with setbacks and adversity.

What are we Doing?

We are investigating the role of mental toughness, primarily (but not exclusively) in sport and exercise settings.  Our research aims to provide an understanding of how and why mentally tough individuals are able to withstand pressure and adversity, and to develop models and interventions to enhance mental toughness.

Why is it important?

The ability to effectively deal with stress is important in regards to achieving optimal performance across a range of disciplines but it’s equally important in relation to psychological health.  Mental toughness is a vital resistance resource that can help buffer the potential negative effects of stress and has been shown to be related to effective coping and psychological wellbeing in various different domains (e.g., sport, exercise, education, business). At a time when the importance of mental health is becoming increasingly recognised, it is vital to understand how mental toughness can help people to fulfil potential and remain healthy when faced with the challenges of modern life.

How are we different?

By using a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, MTOUGH researchers have been studying elite athletes to understand how the components of mental toughness enable optimal functioning in high pressured situations. Using a positive psychological approach the team are focused upon understanding the mechanisms that underlie mental toughness and developing interventions to enable others to deal with challenges more effectively. Our approach is about developing personal resources that are useful across the spectrum of life domains.  

The Mental Toughness Research Group (MTOUGH) includes British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited Sport and Exercise Psychologists and is primarily focused upon research that aims to facilitate more effective applied practice and theoretical understanding of mental toughness across sport settings and beyond.

The group, based in the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Lincoln, comprises of a small number of committed researchers who specialise in qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method research designs. Members of the group regularly publish their work in peer-reviewed journals and present work at national and international conferences.

Mental toughness in a sports team discussionOur current research is focused in the following areas:

  • Brain regions associated with mental toughness using fMRI
  • Cognitive mechanisms that underpin mental toughness
  • The relationships between mental toughness, achievement and dropout in University students
  • The relationship between mental toughness and flow in sports participants
  • The role of mental toughness in exercise adherence
  • The development of mental toughness in professional sports people.

Lifting a weightWe are also developing interventions aimed at enhancing mental toughness.

Members of MTOUGH are proficient with qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method approaches to research projects. The philosophy of the group is generally not to be limited to one research approach, rather to fit the method and research design to best answer the specific question.