The foundations of resilience: what are the critical resources for bouncing back from stress

Document Type

Book Chapter


Published in: S. Prince-Embury, D. H. Saklofske (Eds.), Resilience in children, adolescents, and adults: Translating research into practice. New York, NY US: Springer Science + Business Media, 2013.


The purpose of this chapter was to examine the relationship between potential resources for resilience and resilience itself. The Brief Resilience Scale [Smith et al. (International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 15:194–200, 2008)] was used to assess resilience as the ability to bounce back or recover from stress. Several potential resilience resources were assessed based on a model of resilience that involves the three stages of confronting a stressor, orienting to a positive outcome, and actively coping with the stressor. The personal and social resources assessed included active coping, mindfulness, mood clarity, optimism, purpose in life, spirituality, positive relations with others, and social support. The demographic characteristics assessed included age, gender, education, and income. The participants were 844 adults who were part of six samples: (1) general college students (n =259), (2) healthy adult women (n = 51), (3) women with fibromyalgia (n = 32), (4) cardiac patients (n = 228), (5) first-generation college students (n = 150), and (6) urban firefighters (n = 123). The results were consistent with the temporal stage model in that the personal resources targeted at each stage were related to resilience. With all samples combined, mindfulness, mood clarity, purpose in life, optimism, and active coping were related to greater resilience in both correlation and multiple regression analyses. Even when the samples were analyzed separately, these variables were consistently related to greater resilience with optimism and mood clarity having the strongest relationships with resilience. Optimism and purpose in life had very strong relationships with resilience in cardiac patients and women with fibromyalgia purpose, respectively. Age and male gender were also related to greater resilience in the multiple regression analyses of the combined samples. A revised theoretical model for understanding the foundations of resilience based on the findings is presented and implications for future research and clinical work are discussed.