Resilience to Major Life Stressors Is Not as Common as Thought

Frank Infurna, Suniya Luthar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


We attempted to replicate findings that “most people are resilient” following three events: spousal loss, divorce, and unemployment. We applied growth mixture models to the same longitudinal data set that has previously been used to assert that resilience is ubiquitous. When using identical model specifications, as in prior studies, we found that resilient trajectories were most common, but the number of trajectories identified was different. When we relaxed two assumptions used in prior studies—that (a) all classes have similar variability in levels of postadversity adjustment and (b) there is no variability in changes within classes—we found that a resilience class was least common. Methodologically, our results show how findings on trajectories of change following major life stressors can vary substantially, depending on statistical model specifications. Conceptually, the results underscore the errors inherent in any categorical statements about “rates of resilience” among individuals confronted with major life stressors. Pragmatically, they underscore the dangers in recommending against prophylactic interventions (on the basis of one method of analyzing longitudinal data) for individuals who have experienced major life stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-194
Number of pages20
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • adulthood and old age
  • growth mixture modeling
  • life satisfaction
  • rates of resilience
  • replication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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