Scientists establish a causal relationship between failure and future success! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
For decades we have been using this – What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – as a sort of motivational tool to get our spirits up. However, scientists have now established this scientifically.
Scientists at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management have established a causal relationship between failure and future success, proving German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s adage that “what does not kill me makes me stronger.”
For the study, researchers used advanced analytics to assess the relationship between professional failure and success for young scientists. They found, in contrast to their initial expectations, that failure early in one’s career leads to greater success in the long term for those who try again.
The findings provide a counter-narrative to the Matthew Effect, which posits a “rich get richer” theory that success begets more success.
Researchers analyzed records of scientists who, early in their careers, applied for R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) between 1990 and 2005. They utilized the NIH’s evaluation scores to separate individuals into two groups: (1) the “near-misses” whose scores were just below the threshold that received funding and (2) the “just-made-its” whose scores were just above that threshold.
Researchers then considered how many papers each group published, on average, over the next 10 years and how many of those papers turned out to be hits, as determined by the number of citations those papers received.
Analysis revealed that individuals in the near-miss group received less funding, but published just as many papers, and more hit papers, than individuals in the just-made-it group.
The researchers found that individuals in the near-miss funding group were 6.1% more likely to publish a hit paper over the next 10 years compared to scientists in the just-made-it group.