The effects of the resistance resources of personality hardiness, exercise, and social support, taken singly and in combination, on concurrent and prospective levels, and probability of illness were studied. In 1980, 85 male business executives identified as high in stressful events were tested for the three resistance resources. Predicting their illness scores in 1980 formed the concurrent aspect of the study. For the prospective aspect, illness scores in 1981 were available on 70 of the subjects. With regard to resistance resources, when there are none, one, two or three, the level and probability of both concurrent and prospective illness drop in a regular and marked fashion. These results highlight the importance of multiple resistance resources. Estimates of relative effectiveness indicate that hardiness is the most important of the resistance resources studied.
Recently, a shift has occurred in research on the relationship between stressful events and illness symptoms toward identifying moderating variables. The list of moderators, called resistance resources by Antonovsky , is growing. Now that research has suggested the importance of various individual resistance resources, it is time to consider their joint effects on the stress-illness relationship. The present study makes a start on this endeavor. The three resistance resources considered here are personality hardiness , exercise , and social support . All three have received considerable attention lately.
Introduced by Kobasa , hardiness is considered a personality style consisting of the interrelated orientations of commitment (vs alienation), control (vs powerlessness), and challenge (vs threat). Persons high in commitment find it easy to involve themselves actively in whatever they are doing, being generally curious about and interested in activities, things and people . Persons high in control believe and act as if they can influence the events taking place around them through what they imagine, say and do . Challenge involves the expectation that life will change and that the changes will be a stimulus to personal development.
These various beliefs and tendencies are considered very useful in coping with stressful events . Optimistic cognitive appraisals are likely, in which the events will tend to be perceived as natural changes, meaningful and interesting despite their stressfulness. In that sense, the stressful events will be held in perspective.