Featured Topic: Resilience

Sarah Krivan 


Resilience is defined as a form of psychological capital that affects people’s perceptions and behavior patterns by affording them greater tolerance of negative emotions and a stronger perception of control over their environment (Wang, Lu, et al., 2019). On an everyday basis, resilience influences how you react to setbacks. Because it’s not just a fixed personality trait, it is possible to actively work on increasing your resilience.

Of relevance to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Son et al. (2019) examined the psychological well-being and workplace functioning of hospital workers dealing with the 2015 Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak. These authors found that high risk appraisal and emotional disruption decreased psychological resilience, whereas coping ability increased psychological resilience. Further, they noted the need to tailor strategies to increase resilience across different groups: Lowering perceived risk was found to be most beneficial for increasing the resilience of healthcare workers, whereas strengthening coping ability and relieving the intensity of negative emotions experienced were the most effective strategies for promoting resilience among non-healthcare workers. Looking at negative life events—a category into which a worldwide pandemic certainly fits—Li et al. (2020) examined the mediating and moderating effects of emotional resilience in the relationship between these events and mood states. These authors concluded that resilience could act as a buffer against the adverse effects of negative life events on emotional health.

Cowden and Meyer-Weitz (2016) described the opposing opinions in the literature regarding whether resilience is an outcome or a process, and determined that the former definition appears to be more common. So how do we achieve the outcome of first developing and then maintaining resilience? Focusing on the adolescent stage, Wang, Hu, et al. (2017) stated that having strong bonds with parents or caregivers gives a good foundation for developing resilience. These authors also reported on a favorable effect of positive emotions on ego resilience, and cited a study in which this effect was sustained at 1 month after initial assessment. Moving on to adulthood, Cowden and Meyer-Weitz (2016) recommended focusing on self-reflection and (in particular) self-insight to achieve resilience. From a clinical treatment perspective, Laan et al. (2012) examined individual difference in adult crying and ultimately suggested that therapists’ ability to evaluate and understand crying in the context of attachment theory will assist them with developing ways to promote clients’ resilience and coping skills.

Interested in finding out more about ways to boost resilience, whether for yourself or for others? Sign up for a personal subscription to SBP to gain access to the papers we’ve published on this topic, along with over 3,500 others spanning the fields of social, behavioral, and developmental psychology.

Articles below are available freely for the month of March 2021.

Psychological resilience and work alienation affect perceived overqualification and job crafting – Zhe Wang, Hongxu Lu, and Xiaoxuan Wang, 2019, 47(2), e7552.

Hospital workers’ psychological resilience after the 2015 Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak – Heejung Son, Wang Jun Lee, Hyun Soo Kim, Kkot Sil Lee, and Myoungsoon You, 2019, 47(2), e7228.

Negative life events and mood states: Emotional resilience as mediator and moderator – Zhizhuan Li, Jianxiang Zha, Pengcheng Zhang, Chenyu Shangguan, Xia Wang, Jiamei Lu, and Min Zhang, 2020, 48(5), e8843.

Self-reflection and self-insight predict resilience and stress in competitive tennis – Richard Gregory Cowden and Anna Meyer-Weitz, 2016, 44(7), 1133–1150.

Positive academic emotions and psychological resilience among rural-to-urban migrant adolescents in China – Daoyang Wang, Mingming Hu, and Xin Yin, 2017, 45(10), 1665–1674.

Individual differences in adult crying: The role of attachment styles – Anja J. Laan, Marcel A. L. M. van Assen, and Ad J. J. M. Vingerhoets, 2012, 40(3), 453–472.