The Two Faces of Persistence: How Harmonious and Obsessive Passion Shape Goal Pursuit

Robert J. Vallerand, Tanya Chichekian, Jérémie Verner-Filion, Jocelyn J. Bélanger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Persistence is generally viewed a unitary construct measuring the extent to which people pursue a goal often in the face of adversity. Here, we propose two different forms of persistence, rigid and flexible, that take origins in different determinants and lead to different activity and life outcomes. Based on the Dualistic Model of Passion (Vallerand, 2015), we propose two types of persistence—flexible and rigid—that are specific to the activity that one is passionate about. Flexible persistence takes origins in harmonious passion for an activity and entails pursuing activity goals with an open and broad focus that allows one to attend to other life goals. It enables people to pursue the desired activity goals while experiencing positive activity outcomes and attaining other life outcomes. Conversely, rigid persistence takes roots primarily in obsessive passion and entails pursuing activity goals with a narrower focus that facilitates reaching some activity goals and outcomes, but not outcomes outside of the activity in one’s life. Results from six studies involving over 3,000 participants from different populations using correlational, prospective, and experimental research designs provide support for this new perspective on persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-192
Number of pages18
JournalMotivation Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • flexible persistence
  • harmonious passion
  • obsessive passion
  • rigid persistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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