Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Mitchell G. Rothstein


Resiliency is often considered an attribute that can assist an individual in overcoming adversity. The predominant theme in the literature is that resiliency is positively related to achieving positive outcomes after a challenging experience. For example, stemming from Luthans and colleagues’ work on Psychological Capital (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007), resiliency has been positively linked to psychological well-being, job satisfaction, and job performance. However, scant research is available on the processes behind resiliency and the mechanisms that promote well-being in the face of adversity. Therefore, the two studies comprising this dissertation aimed to address focal research questions around a) why is resiliency necessary? and b) how does resiliency progress over time?

Study 1 drew upon and integrated Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985) into the resiliency process to offer an understanding of why resiliency may be necessary. It was proposed that individuals that have faced an adverse event would experience a substantial decrease in the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs comprising SDT. Moreover, only those individuals that experienced a decrease in SDT need satisfaction would demonstrate the need for resiliency. Using latent transition analysis, Study 1 demonstrated that only those individuals who experienced a substantial decrease in SDT need satisfaction demonstrated a relation with resiliency. Whereas consistent levels of SDT need satisfaction over time were not related to resiliency.

Study 2 focused on exploring the trajectory of resiliency, as it unfolded over time in response to the common, yet adverse, workplace experience of being fired. Study 2 revealed a non-linear trajectory characterized by decreasing resiliency levels between the first and second assessments, and then increasing levels between the second and third assessments. Results also suggested that the resiliency components could help account for significant proportions of variance in the two important outcomes examined: psychological well-being and job search self-efficacy.

Together, the findings from Studies 1 and 2 provided additional evidence of validity for the King and Rothstein (2010) model of resiliency, and its associated measure, the Workplace Resiliency Inventory (McLarnon & Rothstein, 2013). Additional implications for practice and directions for future research are also discussed.