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Am Psychol. 2011 Jan;66(1):43-51. doi: 10.1037/a0021419.

Social resilience: the value of social fitness with an application to the military.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, IL 60637-1515, USA.


Resilience has been regarded narrowly as a quintessential individual property by most investigators. Social resilience, however, is inherently a multilevel construct, revealed by capacities of individuals, but also groups, to foster, engage in, and sustain positive social relationships and to endure and recover from stressors and social isolation. Emergent levels of organization, ranging from dyads, families, and groups to cities, civilizations, and international alliances have long been apparent in human existence, but identifying the features of individuals, relationships, and group structures and norms that promote social resilience-and determining effective interventions to build social resilience-represent some of the most important challenges facing the military as well as contemporary behavioral science. We identify nine personal resources that foster social resilience, and we describe an educational, computer-based program that builds on these resources in an effort to improve the social resilience among troops in the U.S. Army. Data from this program should provide valuable evidence regarding the challenge of building social resilience.

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