Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Hardiness

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What is it and how can it help?

Overview[edit | edit source]

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Definition[edit | edit source]

Hardiness is a personality trait or attribute that is important in determining the effectiveness of[grammar?] which a person can withstand stress and times of hardship (Maddi & Khoshaba, 1994). Alternatively, Maddi (2007) stated that "hardiness is a pattern of attitudes and skills that provides the courage and strategies to turn stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities instead".

Key Concepts[edit | edit source]

Hardiness has also been categorized into three separate but equally important mechanisms (Kobasa & Maddi, 1982). These three mechanisms are commitment, control, and challenge.

  • Commitment is the concept of self-improvement. The dedication that someone with high levels of hardiness has to finding flaws in their life, attitude or actions and their ability to actively work on improving them. Commitment can also apply to being active in other people's lives around you. The opposite to commitment is alienation, the act of not engaging or interacting with people.[factual?]
  • Control is the amount in which [awkward expression?] someone allows their life experiences and past knowledge to guide them throughout current difficult situations. Someone with high levels of hardiness would see past experiences and use them to better control their outcomes of their actions and deal with stress. Control is seen as amount of responsibility and liability that one undertakes when viewing their life, choices and future. The antithesis of control is powerlessness. Powerlessness is the belief that no matter what you do something else has already determined the outcome. The concept of "fate" could be seen as something that someone who feels powerless could use to not take responsibility for their decisions.[factual?]
  • Challenge is the mindset that change is inevitable and that we must adapt to changing circumstances. This part of hardiness predicts that people who plan for change will be better suited when it does inevitably arrive. The opponent of challenge is security. Security is a protected and safe way of living where change is avoided and stressed about. People who require security and a routine allergic to change would have less, and develop less, hardiness.[factual?]

These are some popular proposed factors that make up hardiness but Duckworth (2007) proposed that hardy and gritty people have four traits in common with one another; interest, practice, purpose and hope.

  • Interest means that the hardiest people have something that they are passionate about that they are able to do for pleasure alone. This could be anything that truly allows one to be happy and enjoy immensely such as a sport, art or music.
  • Practice is the action of taking that interest and constantly trying to improve even if they are already at a high level. This is a commitment to oneself to work on their passion daily.
  • Purpose is the realization that helping others is just as important as helping yourself. Your passion and work is important but it cannot be as important as possible without it benefiting the people around you; your family, friends, the community or even the world.
  • Hope is the ability that people have to endure through hardships. When life is hard the people with hope will rise above adversity and become better people because of it, whereas people without hope have a higher chance of crumbling.

Quiz[edit | edit source]

1 Cooperation is one of the three C's of hardiness proposed by Maddi (1982).


2 'Interest', as proposed by Duckworth means that you are interested in becoming more hardy.


What Develops Hardiness?[edit | edit source]

Hardiness, like most other psychological personality traits, is believed to be shaped at an early age (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2010). In order to possess a higher level of hardiness childhood is where it would most effectively be developed. Southwick et al., (2016) stated that during these crucial developmental years supportive and caring parental figure(s) are key to someone having hardiness in later life. Their report goes on to say that a childhood filled with stress and little or no support can lead to heightened negative reactions to stress later in life.

Psychological Benefits of Hardiness[edit | edit source]

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Social Support and Coping[edit | edit source]

Maddi et al., (2006) found that hardiness was positively correlated with both effective coping strategies as well as the propensity to seek out and use social support. Social support could include family and friends as well as government programs and counselors. This was mirrored by the negative relationship that hardiness was found to have with depression and anger issues[factual?]. This was all[say what?] found when comparing high levels of hardiness to a high level of religiousness; [awkward expression?] comparing two forms of ways in which people work through struggle.

Academic Success[edit | edit source]

Hardiness has been seen to be a significant indicator of both success in performance and retention in terms of academics (Maddi, et al., 2012). This [what?] study was done using a military college with hardiness being an important factor due to the difficult workload and physical needs of the environment (Kelly, Matthews & Bartone, 2014)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder[edit | edit source]

Hardiness can help in preventing the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Pitts et al., 2016). PTSD is a mental disorder that occurs mainly after someone experiences an extremely traumatic and terrifying event. The attributes of seeing change as a useful challenge instead of a daunting task mean that recovery and continued progress are not seen as hard and are more attainable (Bonanno, 2004 & Maddi, 2006). This can be seen when lower levels of hardiness correlated positively with prominence of PTSD in the military. The opposite was found for high levels of hardiness. This means that high levels of hardiness stopped some veterans from receiving PTSD. This can also be applied to people who are not necessarily military personnel. Car accidents, witnessing crimes and being attacked can all lead to PTSD but hardiness training could negate the disorder[factual?].

A short video on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Depression[edit | edit source]

Sinha & Singh (2009) recorded the depression levels and hardiness levels of 320 people of various ages[where?]. The subjects were categorized into low hardiness, medium hardiness and high hardiness. As the hardiness went up the likelihood that depression would occur went down. As is common knowledge in science, correlation does not equal causation. This being said more research into this area would be interesting and could blossom into new methods of counselling for depression.

Summary[edit | edit source]

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Psychological Benefits to hardiness[edit | edit source]

  • Social support and coping mechanisms
  • Academic Success
  • Mitigates the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Decreased likelihood of depression

Physical Benefits to Psychological Hardiness[edit | edit source]

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Physical Health[edit | edit source]

Bartone, Valdes & Sandvik (2016) studied 338 people involved in a security program [where?] and assessed their physical health. The Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol and cardiovascular condition of the participants were checked. More "good" cholesterol, less body fat and greater heart health were all found to be significantly linked to high levels of hardiness. That is, that the participants with high levels of hardiness showed less signs of physical deterioration and poor health[grammar?].

This drastic difference would most likely be due to the fact that stress raises things like cortisol production in the body as well changes the way that the body processes blood, leading to health problems (Cooper & Marshall, 2013).

Stress Mitigation[edit | edit source]

Roth et al., (1989) tested 373 university students [where?]. Hardiness, along with levels of fitness were negatively and significantly correlated with levels of illness. That is, the more hardy a person is or the more that they exercised the less likely they were to become ill. The researchers theorised that hardiness in and of itself may not be enough to stop or prevent illness. However, the fact that hardiness is a good indicator of how well, or how poorly, some people are affected by life's stressors could be a contributing factor. Strong amounts of hardiness mitigate the negative things that people experience; this keeps their stress within healthy limits and lessens the physical illness associated with heightened stress.

Prominent Studies and Theories[edit | edit source]

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Maddi's Personality Theory (1989)[edit | edit source]

People, even as early as the 1980's, were finding it harder to find meaning in life and becoming more and more secluded[factual?]. Maddi saw these things as the result of technological, social and cultural changes in the wake of an ever-growing globalist movement. Maddi then expanded on this by proposing two main personality types in which to categorize people.

  • Premorbid personality – Premorbid personality is the personality type that is most likely going to conform to social norms, have little input into their own roles and very much just do what is expected of them. They have limited imagination as well as limited understanding of who they are or meaningful self-analysis. They can be happy living this way but have a higher chance of being depressed, bored and unhappy with their life than their counterparts.[factual?]
  • Ideal Identity - The ideal identity is the opposite of the premorbid personality in that it garners a deeper understanding of itself. Someone with this personality is more creative, questions more and makes their own decisions based on what they want and less on what the people around them want from them. They are also more adaptive to changing situations and circumstances and can find more enjoyment in learning. This engagement in their own life, along with the idea that they can influence their future and are in charge of their own life, means that they are less likely to experience the negative side effects of the premorbid personality type.[factual?]

Illinois Bell Telephone Company (1987)[edit | edit source]

Maddi (1987) studied the psychological well-being of 430 employees of the Illinois Bell Telephone Company. Around 6 years into the study the company had to let go of almost half of its staff. The researchers realized that they had an extremely fortuitous opportunity presented to them. Despite the obvious negativity of half a company being laid off there was now room for them to research the decline (or incline) of the remaining staff members in terms of mental and physical health in relation to stress. Maddi and his team were then able to measure the stress that inevitably affected the remaining employees given their increased work obligations. Within the study group approximately two thirds reported declines in mental, physical or emotional health due to the stress of their new workload. Divorces, obesity, substance abuse and depression were significantly higher than before the lay offs occurred. This was in stark contrast to the other third of employees that reported that they had improved or maintained their health. This led Maddi to believe that the group that displayed decreased levels of heath[spelling?] lacked a high enough level of hardiness since they had not adapted to their new roles and saw them as nuisances rather than an opportunity for growth.

This is the core of hardiness. The idea that change is seen as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. Those that[grammar?] see it as simply a learning experience are able to move forward and improve, whereas those that don't can see a decline in their health[grammar?]. Maddi had proposed and theorised that low levels of hardiness would be detrimental to some [missing something?] the remaining employees. The significant rise in negative health situations made it clear that hardiness plays a very important part in our well-being and should be looked at as an area to improve.

Kobasa, Maddi & Kahn (1982)[edit | edit source]

Kobasa and partners conducted one of the largest hardiness based experiments to date. 259 male business managers [where?] were subject to a multitude of tests to determine their belief in regards to their ability to determine outcomes in life, their schedule and the severity of illness suffered within the past few years. Kobasa and the others found that the managers that perceived life events and outcomes as more malleable, a component of hardiness, were less likely to experience illness as a result of stress.

One drawback to this study was the fact that all the participants were male. Better comparisons and deeper conclusions could have been made if the researchers had used women as well as men. This would have gone toward filling a gap that is currently around hardiness research.

Nordmo[spelling?] et al., (2017)[edit | edit source]

Nordomo et al., (2017) found that, in terms of insomnia and the symptoms of diminished sleep, hardiness is an important factor in severity. 281 sailors on a 4 month mission were measured in terms of their hardiness levels and split into two groups, high levels of hardiness and low levels of hardiness. Both during and after the mission the crews reported levels of insomnia were recorded. By the end it was made clear that there was significantly less levels of insomnia [missing something?] experienced by the group high in hardiness when compared to their less hardy counterparts.

There have been many similar experiments into hardiness and its effects on soldiers and military personnel. Research into the mitigation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms using hardiness as well as lower levels of insomnia has led to many researchers to suggest that hardiness training be provided for armed forces personnel in order to protect their mental health (Dolan & Adle 2006; Skomorovsky & Sudom, 2011).

Something to think about[edit | edit source]

Hardiness, in regards to psychology, is a predominantly mental personality charactersitc[spelling?]. However, as seen in the above experiemnts[spelling?], mental hardiness can in fact help with physical health and strength. Physical illnesses, stress related illness as well as things like insomnia can all be diminished significantly by psychological hardiness[factual?]. The phenomenon of the mind being connected to the body and its processes is called psychophysiology!

How to Increase Hardiness[edit | edit source]

Increasing ones[grammar?] hardiness has been shown through research to increase resistance to physical, emotional and psychological illness and impairment[factual?]. In order to improve hardiness several research projects have conducted programs aimed at fostering growth in this area. Judkins & Ingram (2002) and Hasel et al., (2011) conducted experiments on nurses and university students respectively. In order to improve hardiness the experimenters ran their participants through carefully planned programs. The focus of these programs was self-belief, role playing stressful situations as well as pushing forward the idea of an internal locus of control (Rotter, 1954). An Internal Locus of Control is the idea that you are in control of the situation (and more broadly, your life) and you do not have to simply allow stressful events to take place, but that you can take control and grow from the experience.

Gender and Hardiness[edit | edit source]

Gender and its relationship to hardiness has been and[spelling?] area of contention in the field for quite some time (Shepperd & Kashani, 1991). Although there have been quite a few studies into the area, there is no prevailing consensus about the extent of which gender predicts hardiness or how hardiness effects men when compared to women.

Men and women react to stress differently

For example, Shepperd & Kashani (1991) tested 150 teenager's levels of hardiness and their mental health. Half the study were female and the other male. The pair found that levels of stress, and in turn commitment and control, did have an effect on the health of the young men. Those boys with less stress recorded less psychological disorders or problems than their highly stressed counterparts. Men were also found to score lower in the commitment category to women but experienced less overall stress. This was an interesting finding. However, in the same study there was no relationship between stress, hardiness and health in the females of the group. This was a similar result to Caldwell, Pearson & Chin (1987). They found that 'control' (Maddi, 1987) plays a part in determining the amount that men may fall ill due to stress. Strangely enough this was not replicated in the female subjects in this study either.

Related Factors[edit | edit source]

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Resilience[edit | edit source]

Psychological resilience is the ability to restore oneself[spelling?] to normal and move forward after change or hardship. For example, some people may take years to move past the death of a loved one whereas as some may come to terms with it within months,[factual?]

Grit[edit | edit source]

Grit is very similar to hardiness as they are both personality traits. Hardiness is the ability to see change, adapt and use that change to learn and grow. Grit is the sheer will that some possess to keep pushing toward a goal no matter the setbacks and obstacles (Duckworth, 2007)

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Hardiness is a fascinating yet understudied personality trait. Often lumped in with similar concepts like resilience and grit, hardiness is seemingly more important than many people think. This is in regards to emotional, psychological and physical health as well as performance in areas such as academia and sport[grammar?]. This area of psychology is important in learning about the driving factors in human behavior[vague]. Some more study into gender hardiness differences as well as the physical benefits of high levels of hardiness would be helpful.

References[edit | edit source]

Bartone, P. T., Valdes, J. J., & Sandvik, A. (2016). Psychological hardiness predicts cardiovascular health. Psychology, health & medicine, 21(6), 743-749.

Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events?. American psychologist, 59(1), 20.

Caldwell, R. A., Pearson, J. L., & Chin, R. J. (1987). Stress-moderating effects: Social support in the context of gender and locus of control. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 13(1), 5-17.

Cooper, C. L., & Marshall, J. (2013). Occupational sources of stress: A review of the literature relating to coronary heart disease and mental ill health. In From Stress to Wellbeing Volume 1 (pp. 3-23). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Dolan, C. A., & Adler, A. B. (2006). Military hardiness as a buffer of psychological health on return from deployment. Military Medicine, 171(2), 93.

Duckworth, A.L.; Peterson, C.; Matthews, M.D.; Kelly, D.R. (2007). "Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 92 (6): 1087–1101.

Hasel, K. M., Abdolhoseini, A., & Ganji, P. (2011). Hardiness training and perceived stress among college students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 30, 1354-1358.

Judkins, S. K., & Ingram, M. (2002). Decreasing stress among nurse managers: A long-term solution. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 33(6), 259-264.

Kelly, D. R., Matthews, M. D., & Bartone, P. T. (2014). Grit and hardiness as predictors of performance among West Point cadets. Military Psychology, 26(4), 327.

Kobasa, S. C., Maddi, S. R., & Kahn, S. (1982). Hardiness and health: A prospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42(1), 168-177.

Maddi, S. R., & Kobasa, S. C. (1984). hardy executive. Dow Jones-Irwin.

Maddi, S. R. (1987). Hardiness training at Illinois Bell Telephone. In J. P. Opatz (Ed.), Health promotion evaluation, pp. 101-1115. Stevens Point, WI: National Wellness Institute.

Maddi, S. R., Brow, M., Khoshaba, D. M., & Vaitkus, M. (2006). Relationship of hardiness and religiousness to depression and anger. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 58(3), 148.

Maddi, S. R. (2007). Relevance of hardiness assessment and training to the military context. Military Psychology, 19(1), 61. Maddi, S. R. (2007). Relevance of hardiness assessment and training to the military context. Military Psychology, 19(1), 61.

Maddi, S. R., Matthews, M. D., Kelly, D. R., Villarreal, B., & White, M. (2012). The role of hardiness and grit in predicting performance and retention of USMA cadets. Military Psychology, 24(1), 19.

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child . Early experiences can alter gene expression and affect long‐term development. Working paper no. 10, 2010.

Nordmo, M., Hystad, S. W., Sanden, S., & Johnsen, B. H. (2017). The effect of hardiness on symptoms of insomnia during a naval mission. International Maritime Health, 68(3), 147-152.

Pitts, B. L., Safer, M. A., Russell, D. W., & Castro-Chapman, P. L. (2016). Effects of hardiness and years of military service on posttraumatic stress symptoms in U.S. Army medics. Military Psychology, 28(4), 278-284.

Roth, D. L., Wiebe, D. J., Fillingim, R. B., & Shay, K. A. (1989). Life events, fitness, hardiness, and health: A simultaneous analysis of proposed stress-resistance effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(1), 136.

Rotter, J. B. (1954). Social Learning and Clinical Psychology. Prentice-Hall.

Shepperd, J. A., & Kashani, J. H. (1991). The relationship of hardiness, gender, and stress to health outcomes in adolescents. Journal of personality, 59(4), 747-768.

Sinha, V., & Singh, R. N. (2009). Immunological role of hardiness on depression. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 31(1), 39.

Skomorovsky, A., & Sudom, K. A. (2011). Psychological Well-Being of Canadian forces officer candidates: The unique roles of hardiness and personality. Military Medicine, 176(4), 389-396.

Southwick, S. M., Sippel, L., Krystal, J., Charney, D., Mayes, L., & Pietrzak, R. (2016). Why are some individuals more resilient than others: The role of social support. World Psychiatry, 15(1), 77-79.

Roth, D. L., Wiebe, D. J., Fillingim, R. B., & Shay, K. A. (1989). Life events, fitness, hardiness, and health: A simultaneous analysis of proposed stress-resistance effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(1), 136.