Jorie Pollak Himmel is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee

Roger L. Peterson, PhD, ABPP, Committee Chair
Lorraine Mangione, PhD, Committee Member
Joy von Steiger, PhD, Committee Member


resilience, emerging adulthood, undergraduates, college students, developmental psychology, higher education; transition to college

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Transitioning to college can be hard for many adolescents and emerging adults. The field of psychology has long asked the question, “What helps a person cope with transition and with stress in general?” Research has shown that resilience plays a key role. In recent years there has been a growing interest among psychologists in the concept of resilience, and most importantly in the cultivation of it as both a trait and a learnable skill. Despite this interest in the development and cultivation of resilience, resilience research to date has neglected to explore the ways in which emerging adults understand resilience and use it in coping with the monumental task of transitioning to college and into adulthood. This research aimed to gain a clearer understanding of what knowledge base the undergraduate students at a medium sized liberal arts college have about the concept of resilience and how to develop and employ resilience fostering behaviors. Several research questions were presented: What do resilience rates look like in a healthy college population? What do college students understand about resilience and about resilience fostering behaviors? Do students who report more understanding about resilience concepts and behaviors report higher resiliency in themselves? This research begins answering these questions by asking students about their current understanding of resilience as a concept, as well as their self-reported resilience behaviors. A measure was designed and utilized to evaluate conceptual understanding of resilience. My hypothesis was that students who describe having a greater understanding of resilience will also report higher scores on the resilience measures, as well as on several measures of constructs that have been shown to support resilience, such as optimism and self-mastery. Results from 157 participants include demographic data, multiple regression and correlation findings for quantitative measures, and qualitative data regarding resilience development and promotion. Findings indicate that conceptual understanding is not a key predictor in resilience, however, optimism may play a central role in predicting resilience. Qualitative measures indicate that participating students have a high degree of interest in further resilience oriented education and training.


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