Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Jeff Ashby

Second Advisor

Ken Rice

Third Advisor

Laura Shannonhouse

Fourth Advisor

Catherine Perkins


Psychological resilience is concerned with adaptive functioning in the face of stress, adversity, or trauma (Davydov, Stewart, Ritchie, & Chaudieu, 2010; Windle, 2011). Trait level psychological resilience refers to characteristics that may predispose adaptive responses to stress, trauma, and adversity (e.g., Connor & Davidson, 2003). Despite work suggesting the benefits of trait resilience (e.g., Hu, Zhang, & Wang, 2015), there are multiple self-report measures in existence with no identified measurement standard (Windle et al., 2011). Given differing conceptualizations of trait resilience, physiological measurement of stress response represents a viable and objective approach to examine psychological resilience (Walker, Pfingst, Carnevali, Sgoifo, & Nalivaiko, 2017), with some work suggesting that those high in trait level resilience exhibit an adaptive and flexible physiological stress response to induced stressors (Lü, Wang, & You, 2016; Tugade & Fredrickson, 2004). However, findings have been mixed, in part due to the utilization of measures across studies that differ in their conceptualization of trait resilience. Further, research has not examined other variables with empirical and conceptual links to trait resilience within this context; such as self-compassion (e.g., Arch et al., 2014). The first chapter of this dissertation provides a review of the differing conceptualizations of psychological resilience and potential resilience enhancing interventions. The second chapter of this dissertation comprises a study that aimed to examine the relationship between four self-report measures of trait resilience and several cardiovascular indices of physiological stress response in order to determine which measure best captured an objective ability to adaptively respond to stress. Self-compassion was measured in order to examine the potential additive role of this variable. Despite the hypothesis that multiple measures of trait resilience would correlate significantly with an adaptive stress response and subsequently predict adaptive stress response in a simultaneous multiple regression model, results indicated non-significant relationships between all self-report measures and physiological indices. Subsequent analyses examining additional cardiovascular indices and curvilinear analyses were also non-significant. Implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

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