How people handle rejection says a lot about them. Some experts even believe a little rejection can boost character and personal development in the long run. A recent study published in Symbolic Interaction has used people who were rejected by American Idol to better understand another benefit — perseverance.

"Season after season, countless numbers of people have repeatedly auditioned for American Idol,” said study author Junhow Wei, a sociologist from the University of Pennsylvania, in a statement. “Speaking with these contestants provides us with insights into how the meaning of perseverance shapes our thoughts and behaviors in America today.”

Wei and his colleagues recruited 43 American Idol contestants in order to understand how they accepted rejection after being cut from the nationally televised competition. Researchers observed each contestant's audition tape and conducted in-depth interviews that gauged how they felt about being rejected.

In spite of being rejected and the statistically low chances of success, American Idol contestants were surprisingly able to accept their loss, and even planned on returning for another audition. They attributed their perseverance to interactions with producers and peers that convinced them they were talented and had opportunity to excel in the future.

In a similar study out of Stanford University, researchers were able to identify the exact region of the brain responsible for anticipating a challenge and having the motivation to overcome it, even in the face of failure. By delivering an electrical charge to the anterior midcingulate cortex of two epilepsy patients, the researchers were able to induce an increased heart rate and physical sensations in their chest and back that were accompanied by expectations of a challenge and the determination to complete it.

Another study examining perseverance suggests that people who are able to handle rejection without giving up feel they have better control of a situation compared to people who accept defeat and quit. For example, when two students fail a test, the one who believes it’s their fault for not studying is more likely to try again compared to the student who blames the failure on a teacher or parent.

We all deal with rejection from time to time, whether it’s from a job we wanted or a love interest. Relationship experts will tell you that getting over a breakup has nothing to do with your former love interest, and everything to do with your ability to forget painful memories. People with a fixed mindset tend to harbor negative feelings that linger after a breakup while other people with a growth-oriented mindset see failure and rejection as “a springboard for growth.”

Source: Wei J, et al. I’m the Next American Idol”: Cooling Out, Accounts, and Perseverance at Reality Talent Show Auditions. Symbolic Interaction. 2016.