Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Oct;91(4):730-49. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.91.4.730.


In 3 studies, the authors investigated the functional role of psychological resilience and positive emotions in the stress process. Studies 1a and 1b explored naturally occurring daily stressors. Study 2 examined data from a sample of recently bereaved widows. Across studies, multilevel random coefficient modeling analyses revealed that the occurrence of daily positive emotions serves to moderate stress reactivity and mediate stress recovery. Findings also indicated that differences in psychological resilience accounted for meaningful variation in daily emotional responses to stress. Higher levels of trait resilience predicted a weaker association between positive and negative emotions, particularly on days characterized by heightened stress. Finally, findings indicated that over time, the experience of positive emotions functions to assist high-resilient individuals in their ability to recover effectively from daily stress. Implications for research into protective factors that serve to inhibit the scope, severity, and diffusion of daily stressors in later adulthood are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Affect*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*