Resilience in Adulthood : How Does the Social Environment Facilitate Adjustment and Growth Following Adversity? Public Deposited


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  • This study contributes to our understanding of positive adult development by examining resilience processes in adulthood. Resilience is often considered to be an individual-level trait. However, the child development literature has consistently shown that support from parents and caring others is a critical component of resilience. Less is known about how adults navigate and negotiate their social environments following adversity in ways that promote adjustment and growth. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with men (n = 14) and women (n = 36), ages 56 - 91 years (M = 71.71; SD = 8.8) who described a challenging life event and subsequent thoughts and actions. Retrospective accounts included events from childhood, early adulthood, midlife, and later life. Constructivist grounded theory informed the analysis. Results suggested that patterns of disruption to a person’s sense of global meaning were related to social transactions, some of which supported adjustment (recovery), and others that facilitated growth through finding meaning that included introspection, self-knowledge, and compassion. The importance of a person's transactional relationship with their social environments in the development of wisdom is discussed.
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