Resilience Stories: Investigating Science-Based Strategies to Effectively Manage Stress and Adversity
Resilience is characterized by effective coping and the ability to adapt and recover from the negative consequences of stress on health and wellbeing (Bonanno, 2004; Masten, 2007; Skodol, 2010, Tugade, 2011). It is further defined as the ability to thrive despite personal and social stressors (Steinhardt & Dolbier, 2008). My program of research on resilience consists of two main areas. The first examines the components of resilience, including the acquisition of personal skills to achieve positive outcomes for mental health. In my empirical work, my students and I examine several markers of resilience, among them: self-compassion, gratitude, growth mindset, and flexible grit.
A Ford Scholar will assist in the second main area of my research, which examines applications of resilience research across several domains. Through empirical research and interviews, the Ford Scholar and I will focus our work on investigating how themes in positive psychology (e.g., mindfulness, gratitude, grit) are exemplified in the lives of individuals characterized by “optimal resilience.” My Ford Scholar will help to develop a webinar series that teaches resilience skills to individuals across a number of social domains (students, educators, organizational leaders, executive leaders). The overall aim is to teach evidence-based strategies to improve mental health and well-being through personal stories shared by a few “resilience experts” themselves.
- Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59(1), 20–28.
- Masten, A. S. (2007). Resilience in developing systems: Progress and promise as the fourth wave rises. Development and Psychopathology, 19(3), 921.
- Skodol, A. E. (2010). The resilient personality. In J. Reich, A. Zautra, & J. Hall (Eds.), Handbook of adult resilience: Concepts, methods, and applications (pp. 81–93). New York: Guilford.
- Steinhardt, M. Dolbier, C. (2008). Evaluation of a resilience intervention to enhance coping strategies and protective factors and decrease symptomatology. Journal of American College Health. 56(4), 445-453.
- Tugade, M. M. (2011). Positive emotions and coping: Examining dual-process models of resilience. In S. Folkman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of stress health coping (pp. 186–199). New York: Oxford University Press.
Anticipated Project Activities
The Ford Scholar will help to identify key individuals to interview about their “resilience stories.” In my research and professional activities, I have worked with a number of different groups who my Ford Scholar and I can contact. Possible groups include: undergraduate students coping with covid-related stress, NASA astronauts, military veterans, executive leaders, individuals successfully recovering from substance abuse, students from post-genocide Rwanda). The Ford Scholars will develop interview questions, conduct the interviews, and synthesize narratives from the “resilience stories” compiled during this project for presentation in the webinar series.
Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills
- Strong Research skills (data collection, data analysis, coding of responses)
- Excellent organization
- Ability to work independently
- Strong communication and interview skills
- Clear writing ability
- Some coursework in psychological science
Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student
The Ford Scholar will help to develop a webinar series that teaches resilience skills to individuals across a number of social domains (students, educators, organizational leaders, executive leaders). The overall aim is to teach evidence-based strategies to improve mental health and well-being from personal stories shared by a few “resilience experts” themselves. The student will gain professional development skills by conducting interviews with key individuals. The student scholar will also gain valuable public speaking and presentation skills through the opportunity to teach part of the webinar series. Finally, the student will help to develop post-session assessment questions to collect feedback about the webinar series.
Full remote: This project involves conducting interviews with individuals in several locations. For health and safety, we will work remotely.
Project Start Date
June 7, 2021
Project End Date
July 31, 2021