The Measurement and Role of Ecological Resilience Systems Theory Across Domain-Specific Outcomes: The Domain-Specific Resilient Systems Scales

Assessment. 2019 Dec;26(8):1444-1461. doi: 10.1177/1073191117738045. Epub 2017 Oct 30.


Research suggests that trait resilience may be best understood within an ecological resilient systems theory, comprising engineering, ecological, and adaptive capacity resilience. However, there is no evidence as to how this theory translates to specific life domains. Data from two samples (the United States, n = 1,278; the United Kingdom, n = 211) facilitated five studies that introduce the Domain-Specific Resilient Systems Scales for assessing ecological resilient systems theory within work, health, marriage, friendships, and education. The Domain-Specific Resilient Systems Scales are found to predict unique variance in job satisfaction, lower job burnout, quality-of-life following illness, marriage commitment, and educational engagement, while controlling for factors including sex, age, personality, cognitive ability, and trait resilience. The findings also suggest a distinction between the three resilience dimensions in terms of the types of systems to which they contribute. Engineering resilience may contribute most to life domains where an established system needs to be maintained, for example, one's health. Ecological resilience may contribute most to life domains where the system needs sustainability in terms of present and future goal orientation, for example, one's work. Adaptive Capacity may contribute most to life domains where the system needs to be retained, preventing it from reaching a crisis state, for example, work burnout.

Keywords: education; friendship; health; marriage; measurement; resilience; work.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ecology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Psychological Tests / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Systems Theory
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Young Adult