The resilience paradox

European Journal of Psychotraumatology - Journal Article

Decades of research have consistently shown that the most common outcome following potential trauma is a stable trajectory of healthy functioning, or resilience. However, attempts to predict resilience reveal a paradox: the correlates of resilient outcomes are generally so modest that it is not possible accurately identify who will be resilient to potential trauma and who not. Commonly used resilience questionnaires essentially ignore this paradox by including only a few presumably key predictors. However, these questionnaires show virtually no predictive utility. The opposite approach, capturing as many predictors as possible using multivariate modelling or machine learning, also fails to fully address the paradox. A closer examination of small effects reveals two primary reasons for these predictive failures: situational variability and the cost-benefit tradeoffs inherent in all behavioural responses. Together, these considerations indicate that behavioural adjustment to traumatic stress is an ongoing process that necessitates flexible self-regulation. To that end, recent research and theory on flexible self-regulation in the context of resilience are discussed and next steps are considered.

Extra: Edition: 20210630

G. A. Bonanno
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