Psychological resilience: state of knowledge and future research agendas

Working and discussion papers
October 2015

This report investigates new insights in contemporary psychological resilience research.

The paper draws on peer reviewed studies and articles examining how psychological resilience is built through protective mechanisms, evolves as a dynamic psychosocial process, and can be facilitated through positive adaptation. 

It aims to summarise the extent of the evidence, framed around the following questions:

  • How has the concept of resilience been defined and applied by leading academic researchers in the field of psychology in recent years?
  • What protective mechanisms are important in promoting wellbeing and protecting against risk in individuals?
  • What are the most important lifecycle factors contributing to an individual’s resilience in the long term?
  • How can resilience in individuals be measured? What are the primary tools and frameworks that are being used?
  • How can an individual’s resilience be strengthened through interventions?
  • What is the future of psychological resilience research and practice?

It highlights how experiences of coping with traumatic shocks and stresses vary according to age, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status, and how future lines of research can illuminate biological, psychosocial, and lifecycle factors and skills that can support resilience a priori to a shock.