Resilience Portfolios and Poly-Strengths: Identifying Protective Factors Associated with Thriving After Adversity
American Psychological Association
Psychology of Violence
Objective: Interest in protective factors for adversity has burgeoned, but the set of examined protective factors remains limited and most studies have focused on a single or narrow set of adversities. Using the resilience portfolio model as a conceptual framework, this study seeks to identify promising protective factors for individuals exposed to violence and other adversities. We include strengths drawn from the positive psychology literature in addition to established protective factors. We also explore the utility of the concept of poly-strengths, or the number of different types of protective factors an individual has. Method: Participants were 2,565 adolescents and adults from a rural, low-income community in southern Appalachia (64% female). Three kinds of adversity were assessed (victimization, stressful life events, financial strain) along with 23 protective factors representing 3 broader domains that are the focus of the resilience portfolio model: self-regulation, interpersonal strengths, and meaning-making. Results: The combination of strengths and adversities accounted for 42% of the variance in trauma symptoms, 50% of the variance in posttraumatic growth, and 58% of the variance in subjective well-being. Strengths associated with thriving included purpose, optimism, religious involvement, emotional regulation, emotional awareness, psychological endurance, compassion, generativity, and community support. Poly-strengths was uniquely associated with well-being after controlling for other protective factors. Conclusions: Expanding the range of studied protective factors and considering poly-strengths hold considerable promise to better understand resilience. A more strengths-based approach to prevention and intervention could improve outcomes in individuals who have experienced adversity.