Character Skills & Skill Formation

Assessing the Role and Impact of Non-Cognitive Skills

American public policy currently focuses principally on cognitive test scores or ‘smarts.’ Life success depends on more than cognitive skills. Non-cognitive characteristics–including physical and mental health, as well as perseverance, attentiveness, motivation, self-confidence, and other socio-emotional qualities–are also essential. Non-cognitive abilities also have a large impact on earnings, employment, labor force experience, college attendance, teenage pregnancy, participation in risky activities, compliance with health protocols, and participation in crime. Promoting non-cognitive abilities is an essential part of a successful intervention. Research is still needed on what measurements accurately capture them.