Psychological resilience: a review and critique of definitions, concepts, and theory

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Fletcher, D ; Sarkar, M (2013)

The purpose of this paper is to review and critique the variety of definitions, concepts and theories of psychological resilience. To this end, the narrative is divided into three main sections.\ud The first considers how resilience has been defined in the psychology research literature. Despite the construct being operationalized in a variety of ways, most definitions are based around two core concepts: adversity and positive adaptation. A substantial body of evidence suggests that resilience is required in response to different adversities, ranging from ongoing daily hassles to major life events, and that positive adaptation must be conceptually appropriate to the adversity examined in terms of the domains assessed and the stringency of criteria used.\ud The second section examines the conceptualization of resilience as either a trait or process, and explores how it is distinct from a number of related terms. Resilience is conceptualized as the interactive influence of psychological characteristics within the context of the stress process.\ud The final section reviews the theories of resilience and critically examines one theory in particular that is commonly cited in the resilience literature. Future theories in this area should take into account the multiple demands individuals encounter, the meta-cognitive and -emotive processes that affect the resilience-stress relationship, and the conceptual distinction between resilience and coping.\ud The review concludes with implications for policy, practice, and research including the need to carefully manage individuals' immediate environment, and to develop the protective and promotive factors that individuals can proactively utilize to build resilience.
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