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9 - The socioemotional basis of resilience in later life

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2010

Prem S. Fry
Affiliation:
Trinity Western University, British Columbia
Corey L. M. Keyes
Affiliation:
Emory University, Atlanta
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Summary

Abstract

Resilience has numerous meanings in prior research, but generally refers to a pattern of functioning indicative of positive adaptation in the context of significant risk or adversity. Underlying this broad definition are two specific conditions: (a) exposure to significant risks; and (b) evidence of positive adaptation despite serious threats to development. In this chapter, we examine the relevance of positive emotions and social connection as basic building blocks of resilience in later life. We put forth a dynamic conception of resilience to illuminate, theoretically and empirically, how some individuals are able to maintain, recover, or improve their health and well-being in the face of life challenges. We then summarize select parts of ongoing studies to illustrate how our formulation of resilience guides our program of empirical research on positive emotions. We conclude with a brief consideration of future research directions to advance understanding of later life resilience.

The socioemotional basis of resilience in later life

The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

(Kennedy, 1968)

What do we know about human well-being?

Type
Chapter
Information
New Frontiers in Resilient Aging
Life-Strengths and Well-Being in Late Life
, pp. 239 - 257
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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