SUCCESS Materials – English

Resilience – Theoretical Background – Introduction

Introducing Resilience

A variety of diverse definitions of the construct of resilience have been postulated within the field of psychological research. The original derivation of the term comes from the Latin word “resilio”, which means bounce back or rebound from adversity. Over time, this definition has been built upon and expanded within the psychological literature in an effort to completely encapsulate the nuanced nature of the construct. In a review of the broad literature pertaining to the construct of resilience, Meredith et al. (2011) determined that the definitions of resilience presented in the research tended to diverge on whether they emphasized (i) an individual’s basic abilities, (ii) the ability to adapt to adversity, (iii) the documentation of demonstrable positive alterations made in the aftermath of challenges or setbacks.

Though, some questions remain around whether resilience is manifested in the form of adaptation within adversity or growth in the aftermath of adversity, Fikretoglu and McCreary (2012) indicate that the majority of definitions underline the need for a resilient individual to exhibit signs of positive adjustment in the aftermath of adversity, thereby leading Britt, Sinclair and McFadden (2013) to classify resilience as the “demonstration of positive adaptation in the face of significant adversity”.

However, the confinement of resilience to representing those attitudinal and behavioural responses which occur in the face of significant adversity neglects to account for the concept of everyday resilience, which Masten (2001) described quite eloquently as “ordinary magic”. Everyday resilience pertains to those constructive responses and coping strategies exhibited by individuals whilst managing the day to day stressors which have the potential to impose a disruptive influence upon our daily routines (Richardson, 2002). Garcia-Dia et al. (2013) stressed that resilience also allows the individual to move beyond the aim of mere survival within adversity and facilitates individuals in thriving, even in the midst of difficulties and challenges.