What does resilience signify? An evaluation of concepts and directions for future research

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Throughout the life course, individuals are confronted with adversities that challenge their ability to live the life they imagined. Adversities that are the most prominently studied and shown to bring about the most serious consequences for adjustment across the adult lifespan include job loss, disease and disability onset, and spousal and child bereavement. However, not all individuals show sustained declines to adversity; some are able to bounce back. The resilience literature is built on the premise that individuals are able to bounce back, or adapt to adversity. The past 15-20 years have seen an abundance of resilience research examining resilience to diverse types of adversity across the adult life-span. The overarching goal of this paper is to evaluate psychological concepts of resilience in adulthood and old age and recommend avenues for future research. To do so, I first evaluate and discuss definitions of resilience and their overlap across literatures with an emphasis on sociological approaches to studying adversity across the adult lifespan. Second, I discuss promising conceptual and methodological approaches to advance the resilience literature in adulthood and old age. Conceptual approaches to furthering the resilience literature include incorporating an anticipation component into the definition of resilience. Methodological approaches to furthering the resilience literature include prospective longitudinal designs that incorporate quantitative and qualitative approaches, multidimensional assessments, and the need to examine repeated adversities or multiple adversities that transpire in relatively close proximity to one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-331
Number of pages9
JournalGerontology
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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