Towards a Higher-Order Model of Resilience

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Resilience theory often conceptualizes resilience as a higher-order construct that draws upon other constructs which individuals use to adapt when facing adverse circumstances. However, current research on resilience often reduces it to a single construct. The single construct approach poses the risk of missing the effects that the underlying resilience components may have on the adverse event or behavior under study. To address this discrepancy, the current study developed and tested a higher-order model of resilience with underlying components from a trait resilience perspective. Two samples were gathered from Mechanical Turk (n = 500) and undergraduate college students (n = 720) who completed measures of 8 constructs theorized to underlie resilience, and a previously validated measure of resilience. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, results suggested six constructs (purpose in life, self-esteem, life satisfaction, cognitive flexibility, proactive coping, and social support) comprise a higher-order model of resilience. Invariance testing showed acceptable model fit across the two samples, across genders, and across ethnicities, offering evidence of generalizability for the higher-order model. We found evidence for validity by correlating the higher-order factor in our sample with the already validated resilience measure. These findings provide support for a higher-order model of resilience with at least six underlying components. Future research could determine if the six components used to identify resilience have different effects based on the context within which they are studied, and other future studies should consider validating the higher-order model using additional underlying constructs and samples.

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Social Indicators Research