Resilience was first introduced as a descriptive ecological term by Holling (1973). The term resilience was used by Werner E in his work in the 1970s and 1980s on how despite unfavorable developmental conditions how the adolescent and adults had healthy growth.
Psychological resilience is the ability to cope with the stressors or life events emotionally or mentally and to recover or bounce back quickly from the crises and adapt to adversity or uncertainty. Being resilient does not mean that the person does not have any emotional disturbances or stressors in life.
As age progresses, there is a reduction in physical strength and a greater possibility of a decline in mental health. So, remarkably resilience is associated with older adults, but many studies have shown that older adults have greater resilience than other age groups.
Resilience cannot be defined in one way because it is a dynamic construct that changes in the absence of any functional impairment or any psychopathology. So many operational definitions of resilience by many authors are in existence. In one study by Fleming on a review of literature on resilience, he tells that definition of resilience was mostly concerned with individuals. Now resilience looks at from the whole community perspective. The commonly used definition of resilience is a positive adaptation despite adversity (Luthar, 2006) who said that resilience is a construct with 2 dimensions – positive adaptation and adversity, which was accepted by others (Masten, 2001; Yates et al., 2003; Sroufe et al., 2005). Rutter defined resilience as relative resistance to psychosocial risk experiences (Rutter, 1999; 2000). From Hunter’s (1999) point of view resilience is a continuum of two poles – less optimum resilience and optimum resilience (Fleming & Ledogar, 2008). Herrman et al (2011) defined resilience as a positive adaptation that helps people to maintain their mental health even when they face challenges or adversity in life.
Masten explained how resilience in childhood has emerged and suffered patiently but also reported how few of the maladaptive people turned into resilience during their adulthood after having issues during childhood (Masten & Tellegen, 2012). Resilience is also defined as the ability to bounce back from adversity, frustration, and misfortune and is essential for an effective leader (Ledesma, 2014).
Resilience is defined as ‘‘the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress – an interdisciplinary perspective of resilience, according to The American Psychological Association (2014). Resilience as a stable trajectory of healthy functioning after a highly adverse event (Bonanno et al., 2004; Bonanno et al., 2011); resilience as the capacity of a dynamic system to adapt successfully to disturbances that threaten the viability, function, and development of that system (Masten, 2014); Panter-Brick & Leckman (2013) said that resilience is a process to harness resources to sustain well-being. Rachel Yehuda defines resilience as a conscious effort to move forward in an insightful and integrated positive manner as a result of lessons learned from an adverse experience (Southwick, et al., 2014).
There are studies comparing resilience in young and old adults. A study by Gooding (2012) reports that older adults have high resilience compare to younger adults in psychological domains like emotional regulation and problem-solving scales. It also supports the findings that ill health does not have any effect on resilience, but hopelessness is a strong indicator of low resilience (Gooding, Hurst, Johnson, & Tarrier, 2012).
In a study conducted on elder people with a history of chronic disease described that the people with higher resilience had a successful past experiences like their faith, work-life, family socialization which contributes to their resilience. They also found personal factors like independence, family bounding, self-respect, hope, faith, and contentment which help them to overcome their pain and suffering due to chronic disease (Hassani, et al., 2017).
Jeste (2013) conducted his study on self-rated successful aging in older adults which reports that physical health is not necessary for successful aging. Study shows that both resilience and optimism have greater endurance and less physical morbidity. This cross-sectional study also talks about the association between resilience and depression which affect successful aging (Jeste et al., 2013). One study showed low levels of resilience in patients who attempted suicide than those who did not attempt suicide (Fletcher & Sarkar, 2013)
Under other conditions, Stephanie (2016) in his literature review study described the association of mental factors like positive emotions, coping styles, optimism, and hopefulness, social support with higher resilience. Many studies in his review have also indicated that physical, social, and mental characteristics are important for maintaining higher resilience. Based on his findings, they suggest that resilience interventions can be designed to enhance the older adults (MacLeod, et al., 2016). Self-care behavior affects the quality of life and resilience as personal characteristics leverage the mental and physical quality of life in older people with diabetes (Choowattanapakorn, Karuna, & Konghan, 2016)
Gerino (2017) discussed the mediating effect of resilience and mental health of elderly people with their loneliness and both physical and mental quality of life. The study revealed that people with high levels of loneliness have trouble facing the adversities of life and these people will have low levels of resilience and are more prone to mental illness which in turn reduces the quality of life both mentally and physically (Gerino, Rollè, Sechi, & Brustia, 2017).
In a distinct cross-sectional study describes the role of resilience in enhancing older adults’ self-rated health among older adults and also reduces the effects of adverse childhood experiences (Lau, et al., 2018). Other qualitative study reports that apart from psychological and social resources, two other factors of resilience – resignation, and generativity helps in aging successfully despite the low socio-economic position of older adults (Kok, et al., 2018).
Studies on resilience and quality of life:
Many studies describe the mediating role of resilience with the quality of life. Fang and his colleagues (2015) studied life stress and health-related quality of life in older people with HIV/AIDS and demonstrated how resilience mediates between the two variables. This study reported that higher resilience lowers the negative effect of life stress and greater the well being or health-related quality of life (Fang et al., 2015). Another cross-sectional survey study also supports the role of psychological resilience as a mediating factor in geriatric depression. It reveals how resilience mediates the effect of social support on quality of life in depression. The study also states that among two patterns of resilience, emotional regulation resilience has a higher effect on quality of life than problem-solving resilience in older adults with depression (Li, Theng, & Foo, 2015).
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In consideration with the above study, Mosqueiro reports that the higher intrinsic religiosity showed higher resilience and greater quality of life in older adults who are diagnosed with severe depression with suicide risk and are treated as in-patients. It also assumes that psychological resilience may mediate the effects of higher intrinsic religiosity in these depression patients (Mosqueiro, Da Rocha, & Fleck, 2015).
In a more recent pilot study conducted on older adults with chronic disease, it explored the association between resilience and four psychological outcomes. The study recorded that resilience was inversely related to psychological distress caused by chronic illness in older people and enhances the positive relationship with quality of life, life satisfaction, and happiness (Tecson et al., 2019).
Dispositional Positive Emotions
Positive psychology as defined by Martin Seligman defined is a scientific study of optimal functioning of humans that aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive”. George E. Vaillant, Harvard psychiatrist, views positive psychology as a way to encourage patients to focus on positive emotions and build strengths. Sheldon & King (2001) defined it as the study of strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities, and organizations to grow. Whereas Gable & Haidt (2005) defined positive psychology is also defined as a scientific study of human flourishing and an approach to function optimally.
The field of positive psychology is booming, which helps to enhance human well-being. So the effect of positive emotions has to be discovered and applied in psychological research and practical settings. Positive emotion is considered as any feeling where there the person does not go through any discomfort or pain and also lacks negativity.
The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions proposed by Frederickson (2000) suggests that one’s awareness is broadened due to positive emotions and build skills and resources based on their behavioral range. Later in 2009, Frederickson identified the ten most common positive emotions like joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. In her study it was also we need a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions to have a good life.
Dispositional Factors are also known as internal factors like an individual’s temperament, personality traits, and genetics, which determine a person’s behavior and actions. These factors come from within the person and they do not have much control over it.
Despite the fact that emotions are generally defined as states than traits, many previous research studies explored emotions as dispositional approach or trait and the outcome had substantial differences in individuals (Dixson, Anderson, & Keltner, 2018).
Researches done in the field of personality also focus on dispositions en route global positive and negative mood. After reviewing much literature on positive emotions, seven positive emotion constructs were identified which enhanced opportunities response. The article explored the relationship between seven dispositional positive emotions and Big Five Factors and adult attachment style. It was found that extraversion was significantly identified with all dispositional positive emotions, which indicates that the reward-seeking is the core of positive emotion. So the seven dispositional positive emotions are joy, contentment, pride, love, compassion, amusement, and awe (Shiota, Keltner, & John, 2006).
Few studies talk about positive emotions, resilience, and quality of life. A prospective study was done on students aged above 18 years and supported the previous researches about the enticing outcomes that positive emotions create. It explains how positive emotions fund resources during the challenging situations which in turn foresee growth in psychological resource – ego resilience. This boost in ego resilience is regarded for positive emotions and inflation of global life satisfaction (Cohn, et al., 2009). Depending upon the different personality traits of individuals their reaction to the situation varies. Based on this concept a study was conducted on burn patients. The study explained the role of dispositional optimism which acts as a protective factor and helps individuals to view challenges in life positively and bounce back in stressful situations. The individuals with dispositional optimism will acquire high subjective well-being. And when an individual can deal with their life challenges it indicates that they have high psychological resilience. The study indicated that psychological resilience partially mediates the relationship between dispositional optimism and well-being (He, 2013).
Studies have also shown the effects of positive emotions in mitigating enduring negative emotions of cardiovascular effects and how resilience mediates the cognitive appraisals of fear on it (Tugade & Fredrickson, 2004). Manne attributed that the positive emotions or positive reappraisals of female gynecological cancer people act as a mediating factor between resilience and their quality of life. Cancer patients can perceive their experiences as less threatening by generating more positive thoughts as resilience is associated with more cognitive flexibility (Manne et al., 2015).
There are very few studies on older people relating to their positive emotions, resilience, and quality of life. Glenn, et al., in their cross-sectional study on Mexican American older adults, analyzed how high positive emotions are associated with lower blood pressure who are not on medications for hypertension and specifically prominently related to diastolic blood pressure on older adults who were on medications for hypertension. This study results links relation of positive emotions with low blood pressure was consistent with other literature studies on psychological well-being and cardiac health-related outcomes. And based on Folkman (2000), positive emotions helps in building resilience by building up coping abilities during stressful life events (Ostir, et al., 2006). Further study on the effect of dispositional optimism and aging in older adults was conducted in community-dwelling individuals. In most of the sample population, chronic illness was common. This cross-sectional study reports that dispositional optimism is positively associated with discreet behavior in the presence of chronic illness and also with the physical health status of older adults. But there was only a partial mediation effect between optimism disposition and healthy aging with their health behaviors like alcohol, smoking, and physical activity (Steptoe, Wright, Kunz-Ebrecht, & Iliffe, 2006).
Some studies talk about the effect of optimism on well-being in older adults. This study explains the role of meaning in life in enhancing the well-being of older adults how meaning in life plays a partial mediating role between optimism and subjective well-being. When the optimism is higher people tend to face stressful and challenging life events more effectively and will have greater psychological benefits. Higher optimism attitude about the future will help the older adults to have a greater meaning in their life (Ju, Shin, Kim, Hyun, & Park, 2013)
In 2014 a study was conducted to explore the relation between appreciating positive experiences and psychological well-being in elderly who have high as well as low levels of resilience. The study reported that older adults who have a high ability to enjoy positive life experiences, they showed a greater level of life satisfaction even with older adults with low levels of resilience. It concluded that even if the people have experienced less positive experiences, they still have good psychological well-being because of savoring (Smith & Hollinger-Smith, 2014).
As we reviewed the literature studies, there were studies about dispositional optimism and subjective well-being in older adults. But no studies which talks about dispositional positive emotions and its relation with quality of life and resilience in older adults. Hence to cover this gap there is a need for the current study.