Stressful life events, personality, and health: an inquiry into hardiness

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1979 Jan;37(1):1-11. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.37.1.1.


Personality was studied as a conditioner of the effects of stressful life events on illness onset. Two groups of middle and upper level executives had comparably high degrees of stressful life events in the previous 3 years, as measured by the Holmes and Rahe Schedule of Recent Life Events. One group (n = 86) suffered high stress without falling ill, whereas the other (n = 75) reported becoming sick after their encounter with stressful life events. Illness was measured by the Wyler, Masuda, and Holmes Seriousness of Illness Survey. Discriminant function analysis, run on half of the subjects in each group and cross-validated on the remaining cases, supported the prediction that high stress/low illness executives show, by comparison with high stress/high illness executives, more hardiness, that is, have a stronger commitment to self, an attitude of vigorousness toward the environment, a sense of meaningfulness, and an internal locus of control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Life Change Events*
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Personality*
  • Social Alienation
  • Social Dominance