Hardiness-the key to resilience

Hardiness-Resilience

This website provides essential information on psychological hardiness, and provides a collection of free articles by Dr. Paul Bartone and colleagues.

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You will find additional information about hardiness on this page.

Psychological hardiness is a constellation of personality qualities found to characterize people who remain healthy and continue to perform well under a range of stressful conditions (Kobasa, Maddi & Kahn, 1982; Bartone, 1999; Bartone, Roland, Picano & Williams, 2008).  The key facets of hardiness are commitment – an active engagement and involvement with the world, and a sense of meaning in life (versus isolation), control – a belief that through effort one can influence events and outcomes, and challenge – a receptivity to variety and change. 

The “hardiness” theoretical model was first proposed by Kobasa (1979) as a framework for understanding resilient stress response patterns in individuals and groups.  Conceptually, hardiness was seen as a personality trait or style that distinguishes people who remain healthy under stress from those who develop symptoms and health problems (Kobasa, 1979; Maddi & Kobasa, 1984).  Hardy persons have a strong sense of life and work commitment, a greater feeling of control, and are more open to change and challenges in life.  They tend to interpret stressful and painful experiences as a normal aspect of existence, part of life that is overall interesting and worthwhile (Kobasa & Maddi, 1977). 

Some history 

The concept of hardiness is theoretically grounded in the work of existential philosophers and psychologists (Kobasa & Maddi, 1977) such as Heidegger (1986), Frankl (1960), and Binswanger (1963).  It is a broad, generalized perspective that affects how one views the self, others, work, and even the physical world (in existential terms, umwelt, the “around” or physical world;  mitwelt, the “with” or social  world,  and eigenwelt, the world of the self).  People high in hardiness see life as meaningful and worthwhile, eThe concept of hardiness is theoretically grounded in the work of existential philosophers and psychologists (Kobasa & Maddi, 1977) such as Heidegger (1986), Frankl (1960), and Binswanger (1963).  It is a broad, generalized perspective that affects how one views the self, others, work, and even the physical world (in existential terms, umwelt, the “around” or physical world;  mitwelt, the “with” or social  world,  and eigenwelt, the world of the self).  People high in hardiness see life as meaningful and worthwhile, even though it is sometimes painful and disappointing.  The commitment facet of hardiness builds on the work of Antonovsky (1974), whose “sense of coherence” entails commitment and engagement with others, which lends resistance to the ill effects of stress. White’s (1959) ideas on self-awareness and striving for competence also influenced Kobasa’s understanding of commitment. Hardiness-commitment provides a sense of internal balance and confidence which is important for realistic assessment of stressful and threatening situations.  The control facet of hardiness derives primarily from Rotter’s concept of locus of control (Rotter, Seeman & Liverant, 1962), and Lefcourt (1973) on control beliefs.  Kobasa’s emphasis on control was also influenced by extensive experimental research showing that when subjects have control over aversive stimuli, the stress effects are substantially reduced (eg., Averill, 1973; Seligman, 1975).  In the hardiness model, challenge involves an appreciation for variety and change in the environment, and a motivation to learn and grow by trying new things. Primary theoretical influences on challenge are Fiske & Maddi (1961) on variety in experience, and Maddi (1967) on engagement vs. alienation.  Maddi  (1967) used the term "ideal identity" to describe the person who lives a vigorous and proactive life, with an abiding sense of meaning and purpose, and a belief in his own ability to influence things. This is contrasted with the “existential neurotic,” who shies away from change, seeking security and sameness in the environment.  Although Kobasa described hardiness in terms of these three personality traits (commitment, control and challenge), it is best considered as a general style, a wholistic pattern rather than individual, discrete traits. In Adler’s (1956) terms, hardiness would be a “worldview” or broad framework that people apply to interpret their entire experience.  It is a generalized style of functioning that includes cognitive, emotional and behavioral features, and characterizes people who stay healthy under stress in contrast to those who develop stress-related problems. ven though it is sometimes painful and disappointing.  The commitment facet of hardiness builds on the work of Antonovsky (1974), whose “sense of coherence” entails commitment and engagement with others, which lends resistance to the ill effects of stress. White’s (1959) ideas on self-awareness and striving for competence also influenced Kobasa’s understanding of commitment. Hardiness-commitment provides a sense of internal balance and confidence which is important for realistic assessment of stressful and threatening situations.  The control facet of hardiness derives primarily from Rotter’s concept of locus of control (Rotter, Seeman & Liverant, 1962), and Lefcourt (1973) on control beliefs.  Kobasa’s emphasis on control was also influenced by extensive experimental research showing that when subjects have control over aversive stimuli, the stress effects are substantially reduced (eg., Averill, 1973; Seligman, 1975).  In the hardiness model, challenge involves an appreciation for variety and change in the environment, and a motivation to learn and grow by trying new things. Primary theoretical influences on challenge are Fiske & Maddi (1961) on variety in experience, and Maddi (1967) on engagement vs. alienation.  Maddi  (1967) used the term "ideal identity" to describe the person who lives a vigorous and proactive life, with an abiding sense of meaning and purpose, and a belief in his own ability to influence things. This is contrasted with the “existential neurotic,” who shies away from change, seeking security and sameness in the environment.  Although Kobasa described hardiness in terms of these three personality traits (commitment, control and challenge), it is best considered as a general style, a wholistic pattern rather than individual, discrete traits. In Adler’s (1956) terms, hardiness would be a “worldview” or broad framework that people apply to interpret their entire experience.  It is a generalized style of functioning that includes cognitive, emotional and behavioral features, and characterizes people who stay healthy under stress in contrast to those who develop stress-related problems.

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