Stability of resilience in times of the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal Ment Health. 2023 Feb;17(1):55-66. doi: 10.1002/pmh.1560. Epub 2022 Jul 29.


There is disagreement among researchers regarding the conceptualization of resilience as a dynamic state or stable trait. Aiming to shed light on the state-versus-trait debate, we explored the stability and construct validity of four of the most frequently utilized state or trait resilience scales in a longitudinal assessment. Additionally, we examined the predictive validity of these scales. Our study was conducted before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, which served as collectively experienced adversity. Correlations among the resilience scales and among resilience scales and Big Five personality traits were strong. All except one scale showed high test-retest correlations. Experience of an additional critical life event during the pandemic led to an increase in resilience. Other than in cross-sectional studies, associations between resilience and psychological distress were weak, because personality and baseline psychological distress were controlled for. Nevertheless, next to personality, resilience explained additional variance in distress change. Our results show relatively high stability of resilience overall. Yet, they also confirm dynamic resilience features, suggesting that resilience change occurs with significant adversity, leading to improved adaptation. To gauge the true association between resilience and mental health, baseline levels of these variables as well as personality traits should be considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Personality
  • Resilience, Psychological*