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SpringerBriefs in Psychology

For further volumes:

Salvatore R. Maddi


Turning Stressful Circumstances into Resilient Growth

Salvatore R. Maddi Department of Psychology and Social Behaviour University of California Irvine, CA USA

ISSN 2192-8363 ISBN 978-94-007-5221-4 DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-5222-1

Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg New York London

ISSN 2192-8371


ISBN 978-94-007-5222-1


Library of Congress Control Number: 2012946181

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This book is dedicated to Deborah M. Khoshaba, my beloved wife and esteemed colleague, without whom things would be very hard for me


My parents were poor immigrants from Sicily, who came to the United States for freedom and opportunity shortly after World War I. They worked at odd jobs, and had four children. As their only son, I was regarded by them as the hope of the family. They encouraged me to try hard to get an education, and to find some career that was honorable. In contrast to the other children of immigrants in my classes, I immersed myself in learning and growing thereby. So, my teachers also saw me as the hope of my family, and supported my efforts, encouraging me to continue schooling. With the help of scholarships, I completed my BA and MA at Brooklyn College, in New York, and my Ph.D. at Harvard, in Cambridge. Step- by-step, I found myself pursuing an academic career, first at the University of Chicago, and then at the University of California, Irvine.






































Chapter 1

The Importance of Resiliency in Daily Living

Abstract Life is by its nature a changing, and therefore stressful, phenomenon. One source of stress is the ongoing developmental process that starts with birth, and continues until death. The other source of stress is megatrends imposed by cir- cumstances beyond our control, especially in our changing times. Together, these ongoing stresses need to be turned to advantage by what we learn in dealing with, rather than denying and avoiding them. Fully engaging in this resilient process is facilitated by personality hardiness.

Keywords  Developmental stresses  •  Stressful megatrends  •  Future-oriented  decisions  •  Resiliency  •  Personality hardiness

Lately, there has been increasing emphasis on resilience under stressful circum- stances, along with the attempt to understand why some people are more resil- ient than others (e.g., Bonanno 2004; Maddi 1998, 2005). Most of the resiliency emphasis has been on not losing one’s performance and health, despite the stresses. There has also been some attention paid to the phenomenon of not just surviving, but also thriving under stress. A particular example of this is personality hardiness, which has emerged as a pattern of learned attitudes and skills that helps in turn- ing stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities that do not only merely maintain, but also enhance performance and health (cf., Maddi 2002, 2005). This book follows along this path. The first step in this process, which is covered in this chapter, is to consider the inherently stressful nature of living.

The Naturally Stressful Nature of the Personal Development Process

Due to their continually changing, unpredictable, and demanding processes, the developmental stages are an ongoing stressful phenomenon for us all (Frankl 1963; Maddi 2004; May et al. 1958). The developmental process begins with our being pushed out of our mother’s womb, and forced to begin breathing and



The Importance of Resiliency in Daily Living 

functioning for ourselves, in the cold, bright, noisy environment we had never anticipated. This experience was called the “birth trauma” by Rank (1929). In this developmental period, the baby tries to understand and interact with other people and the environment, without getting hurt, despite being mystified. But, you fail frequently, as you crawl around and bang into things, feel too cold or warm, get hungry without knowing what to do about it, and experience being overwhelmed or alone. You try to figure out what the adults around you mean by the sounds they keep making. When you have to urinate and defecate, you just do it, but then the adults around you seem to do all sorts of things in response, without your know- ing what is going on. But, one thing becomes reasonably sure—those around you sometimes stop you from doing what you want, or is simply normal. And, if these experiences make you cry, or express anger, you may be silenced or chastened by others. Although it does not really make sense to you, you end up having to do what others want, and avoiding what they do not want. No sooner do you make some progress in dealing with this early pattern of trauma, than you have to leave what had hopefully (through what you have learned) become your safe-house, in order to go to school. You have no idea what going to school means, and you cry when your mother leaves you off at Kindergarten. Then, somehow, you have to interact with other children, who do not have your interests at heart, and a teacher, who imposes rules and regulations on you, and a curriculum, which requires that you keep learning new things all the time. And, even if you are fortunate enough to find some friends, interact coop- eratively with teachers, and get at least reasonably good grades, as soon as you feel you have learned something, the situation changes again. Even if your family continues to live in the same place, you will go from grade to grade, and school to school, changing teachers, friends, and curricula in the process. These stressful schooling experiences continue through high school and col- lege, and become even harder to deal with, as you are increasingly separated from your parents and the safe-house into which you were born. Before you realize it, you have reached the age wherein you are expected to begin considering what

your adult life will be like. Do you fit in with others and institutions, or not? Do you have contributions to make, or is it more important to be a follower? You must seriously begin considering what kind of career, new family, and role in society

you will have. Shall you just have sex with anyone who seems attractive or pow-

erful, or should you be using all your resources (including sex) to find the right

person to marry? Should you just take whatever job is available to you, or strug-

gle to find and prepare for the career that best expresses your skills, values, and preferences? By this time, you are also more responsible for your own consumer behavior. What brands of clothing, cars, food, beverages, and equipment should you buy, and how much should you spend on these things? Should you just fit into  society, or determine the role that is best for you and others? And, how should you feel about the reactions of your parents to all this? Needless to say, the period of education in early adulthood is undoubtedly stressful. Nor, as time goes on, does the period of middle adulthood become less stress- ful. You have to compete for a job that seems like a good one to you. If you get it,

The Naturally Stressful Nature of the Personal Development Process


then you have to learn how to perform in it, and get evaluated all the time by your supervisors. Even if your performance seems adequate to them, you are constantly evaluating whether it is the right job for you. Are you bored, or overwhelmed? And, you are constantly trying to meet people with whom you can be friends or loved ones. Needless to say, this is a competitive activity. Then, if you marry some- one and start a family, before you know it, you are struggling to help your children and spouse with their own stressful circumstances. How can you be a good parent and spouse, and still keep trying to find your own place in life? And, is it the right marriage for you—are you bored, overwhelmed, or unattracted? If there are dif- ficulties in your marriage, should you divorce, just have affairs, or is there some more constructive alternative? And, if you have not married, how can you face all the issues of adulthood alone? Moving on to the period of later adulthood is hardly less stressful. One thing you are increasingly faced with is retirement from work. Although this may seem positive, especially if you have hated your job, retirement is generally a stressful circumstance in that you are faced with losing what you have established, and won- dering what to do now. In this regard, retirement is a sign of approaching the end of life. Also, the members of your family of origin, and your peers in general, may begin showing signs of deteriorating health, or actually dying, to say nothing about the health problems you may be having. Understandably, you begin looking back on your life, wondering if it was a sufficient expression of your wishes, values, and capabilities. You increasingly wonder what you should do with yourself, whether there really is an afterlife, and whether your struggle in life was all worth it. All in all, each of the periods of development is fraught with stressful circum- stances. Even if many of them are dealt with constructively, it is nonetheless true that life is, by its developmental nature, fraught with problems and changes that can have an undermining effect on performance, motivation, and health, if not handled well.

We Live in the Centuries of Change

As if the ongoing stressfulness of the natural developmental process were not enough, the period of time and the society in which we live may well impose megatrends on us that add additional stresses. At the present time, there are sev- eral megatrends that increase the stressfulness of everyday living, beyond what is generated by the ongoing developmental pressures mentioned before. Indeed, the twentieth and twenty-first centuries may well be remembered as the centuries of change. One ongoing megatrend is the breathtakingly fast technological advance that began years ago, but is still continuing. A major effect of this has been the devel- opment of computers, progressing through the Internet, and the new telecommu- nications industry. Also, there has been a general streamlining of the processes whereby goods and solutions are reached. While the upside of this megatrend has



The Importance of Resiliency in Daily Living 

been much greater ability to communicate, solve problems, reach goals, and bring about new areas of functioning, the downside is the difficulty for many people of participating in, much less contributing to this technological advance. There are fewer and fewer jobs involving assembly line working, and the new jobs that get created require increasing amounts of computer and conceptual and technologi- cal knowledge. A current example of this is that the old way of buying and selling stocks, which had involved being present and interacting with others at the Wall Street  location,  has  fallen  to  30  %,  and  been  replaced  with  computer  automated  processes instead. In general, the megatrend of rapid technological advance has put continual stressful pressures on people to try to learn more in order to be quali- fied for jobs that are becoming fewer and more advanced. Another ongoing megatrend of our time is globalization. Its upside is our grow- ing knowledge of, and interaction with people all around the world. But, the down- side of globalization to societies, communities, and individuals is the threat to their values of right and wrong, and to their stability and security. Terrorism is one expression of this sense of threat, as some societies and their members feel that the only way to protect themselves from imposition from more powerful societies is to undermine them in unidentifiable ways, rather than on the traditional battlefield. And, less powerful members of the powerful societies may also be undermined, as globalization encourages businesses to outsource jobs to other countries where pay is lower. For that matter, even relatively powerful members of the powerful socie- ties may experience increasing levels of stress. For example, I did counseling sev- eral years ago with an American venture capitalist who was increasingly stressed and anxious at having to do more and more business with people in other countries, whose values and aims he did not know, and whom he would never even meet. In our time, another downside of rapid technological advance and emerging globalization is the megatrend of mounting, worldwide competition. The days are over when we could carry on work within our own country and its economy. Now, there is worldwide competition for the best products and employees at the best prices. The upside of this is that many foreign countries are participating further in our economy, not only by buying our products, but also by contributing techno- logical advances to our production system. Ireland, India, and China, for example, have improved their economies significantly in recent years by having their young workers become expert in writing computer software programs and selling them to us at competitive prices. The downside of all this is that some of our companies (and their workers) are floundering, as they cannot lower their prices and salaries enough to be whole. And, all this is happening in the democratic United States at  just the time when the pressure for equal opportunities for women and minorities in the workplace mounts. The upside of this is less discrimination in the job mar- ket. But, the downside is decreased job security. An additional factor increasing job insecurity is our aging population. As people live longer, they are retiring from work at later ages than before, which, along with the other factors mentioned, is making it harder for younger people to find the jobs they want. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which have been ongoing for many years, are another example of megatrends affecting us all. Certainly, the military personnel

We Live in the Centuries of Change


who are fighting abroad, and their families left behind here, are experiencing sig- nificant stresses everyday. But, the war-related economic drain, terroristic retali- ations, general uncertainty, and worldwide questions as to whether the United States is a friend or enemy, are increasing the stress for all of us. Another megatrend being experienced now on a worldwide basis is the eco- nomic downturn, not only due to the expenses of wars, but also due to the deterio- ration of the job and real estate markets. Crucial companies in the United States  have actually received government subsidies, but there are still an increasing num- ber of job losses and company foreclosures going on. This has led to less money being spent by consumers, and the resulting further slowdown of businesses. Our economy is in the worst state since the great depression, and needless to say, this has imposed many serious stressful circumstances on us. There are certainly significantly stressful megatrends in our times. This does not mean, however, that other times have been less stressful. After all, the devel- opmental pressures are always part of the human process of growing up. And, history shows that other periods of history than our own have also been fraught with stressful megatrends, though their particular content may have been different. There have always been wars, natural disasters, and political and social turmoil.

The Ongoing Need for Thriving Under Stress

Life is by its nature a stressful phenomenon, due to the combination of ongoing pressures fueled by developmental requirements and additionally imposed meg- atrends. And, the initial effect of increased stress appears to be increased strain, which is the body’s arousal reaction to the perceived threat. Selye’s (1976) award- winning research with laboratory animals has shown that when imposed stresses are strong and uncontrollable, the continuing strain reaction depletes bodily resources, resulting in various kinds of bodily breakdown. People who believe that they are entitled to easy comfort and security tend to  deal with stresses by denying them as they constitute threats to their sense of what life should be all about. You try to “look the other way,” and if you are unsuccess- ful in this, you minimize the change implications of what is happening. Helpful in this denial is the process of avoiding potentially challenging stresses, by immers- ing  yourself  in  activities  that  are  habitual  and  fun.  So,  instead  of  directly  con- sidering the implications of the stresses, you engage in excessive, but enjoyable activities. These activities may include overspending on unneeded products, gam- bling, sexual promiscuity, and excessive television watching. Whichever pattern you sink into, the overall aim is to distract yourself from those mounting stresses involving developmental pressures and disruptive megatrends. What you want is happiness, no matter what is going on. Unfortunately, this is a pattern of behavior that interferes with you being able to find meaning and fulfillment in your life. Another stress-response pattern on the part of people who believe they are enti- tled to easy comfort and security is to conclude that they have been victimized,



The Importance of Resiliency in Daily Living 

and should therefore strike back at those who are victimizing them. The first step is exaggeration, in which you see the pressures as something imposed on you by enemies, rather than a natural expression of the stressful nature of living. This approach leads to looking for enemies, and reacting with angry, even violent behavior toward them. The major difficulty with engaging in denial and avoidance, and feeling vic- timized and striking back, is that these approaches stultify learning, growth, and fulfillment in living. In order to keep developing, you must treat stressful circum- stances as an opportunity to learn and grow in wisdom, rather than a destructive imposition on you. This is what the existentialists (e.g., Frankl 1963; Kierkegaard 1954; Maddi 2004; May et al. 1958) call choosing for the future (which involves learning and changing), instead of the past (which involves insisting on holding on to what is already known). Choosing the future involves a continual process of changing one’s own beliefs and behaviors, as the result of taking ongoing stressful changes seriously, as what life is all about. In order to proceed in this difficult process, you need existential courage, or what Tillich (1952) called “the courage to be.” The following chapters of this book concern the conceptualization, research, and practice concerning personality har- diness, which is the pattern of attitudes and strategies that constitute the existen- tial courage and motivation to do the hard work of turning stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities (Maddi 2002).


Bonanno, G. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: How we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events. American Psychologist, 51, 72–82. Frankl, V. E. (1963). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy (L. Lasch, Trans.). New York: Washington Square Press. Kierkegaard, S. (1954). Fear and trembling and the sickness unto death. New York: Doubleday. Maddi,   S.   R.   (1998).   Creating   meaning   through   making   decisions.   In   P.   T.   P.   Wong   &   P.   S.   Fry   (Eds.), The human quest for meaning (pp. 3–26). Mahwah: Erlbaum.

Maddi, S. R. (2002). The story of hardiness: Twenty years of theorizing, research, and practice. 

Consulting Psychology Journal, 54, 173–185. Maddi,  S.  R.  (2004).  Hardiness:  An  operationalization  of  existential  courage.  Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 44, 279–298. Maddi, S. R. (2005). On hardiness and other pathways to resilience. American Psychologist, 60,


May,  R.,  Angel,  E.,  &  Ellenberger,  H.  F.  (1958).  Existence: A new dimension in psychiatry and psychology. New York: Basic Books. Rank, O. (1929). The trauma of birth. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich. Selye, H. (1976). The stress of life (2nd Ed.). New York: Lippencott. Tillich,   P.   (1952).   The courage to be .   New   Haven,   CT:  Yale   University   Press.

Chapter 2

Personal Hardiness as the Basis for Resilience

Abstract Together, the hardiness attitudes and strategies facilitate resilience under stress. The hardy attitudes are the 3Cs of commitment, control, and challenge. No matter how bad things get, challenge helps you realize that life is naturally stress- ful, commitment helps you stay involved with what is going on around you, and control helps you try to turn it to your advantage. This courage helps you engage in the hardy strategies of problem-solving coping, socially-supportive interactions, and beneficial self-care. Our 12-year longitudinal study at Illinois Bell Telephone showed that the higher were managers in personality hardiness; the better was their performance, and health after the disruptive deregulation of the telephone industry they experienced. These findings led to the Hardiness Model.

Keywords  Hardy attitudes  •  Hardy strategies  •  Resilience  •  Enhanced  performance  •  Enhanced health  •  Problem-solving coping  •  Socially- supportive interactions  •  Beneficial self-care  •  Illinois Bell Telephone  study  •  Stress  •  Strain  •  Hardiness model

Early in my career, I was studying the personality characteristics that increase the  likelihood of creativity in one’s performance. What I was finding is that the more people are interested in novelty and increases in stimulation, the greater the like- lihood that they will show creativity (originality) in their performance (Maddi 1969). At one point, a student on my research team brought me an article she had found in Family Circle Magazine, which emphasized the importance of avoiding stressful circumstances, as they can kill you. The article emphasized that the major way of avoiding stress was to keep stability, and avoid changes. I was shocked at this conclusion, as it implied that, from what my research was showing, creative people are trying to commit suicide. In mulling over this contradiction between what I, and others were finding, I began to think that there are probably individual differences in people’s reac- tions  to  stressful  circumstances  that  are  worth  studying.  Perhaps  people  who  are  more intrigued by ongoing changes are more likely than others to turn the resulting stresses to advantage by what they learn. And, as they grow from what they learn, the stresses are resolved, and therefore less likely to undermine performance and health.



Personal Hardiness as the Basis for Resilience 

Hardiness as the Pathway to Resilience

Before long, the conceptualization of personality hardiness began to emerge (Kobasa 1979; Maddi and Kobasa 1984). Basically, hardiness was considered the specifics of what existentialists call existential courage (Maddi 2004). In par- ticular, hardiness emerged as a pattern of attitudes and strategies that together facilitate turning stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities. In particular, there are the three Cs of hardiness attitudes (Maddi 1994, 2002).

If you are strong in the C of challenge, you accept that life is by its nature stress- ful, and see those stressful changes as an opportunity to grow in wisdom and capa- bility by what you learn through trying to turn them to your advantage. In this, you think that you can learn from failures as well as successes. You do not think you are entitled to easy comfort and security. Instead, you feel that fulfillment can only be gained by having turned the stresses into growth opportunities. Another C of hardy attitudes is commitment, which involves the belief that no matter how bad things get, it is important to stay involved with whatever is happening, rather than sink into detachment and alienation. And the third C of hardiness is control, which leads you to believe that no matter how bad things get, you need to keep trying to turn the stresses from potential disasters into growth opportunities. It seems like a waste of time to let yourself sink into powerlessness and passivity. To truly express existential courage, a person must possess all 3Cs of commit- ment, control, and challenge. American psychology is currently preoccupied with the importance of the control attitude, and I have encountered the opinion from others that it is this attitude that fully defines hardiness. But, imagine people high in control though simultaneously low in commitment and challenge. Such people  would want to determine outcomes but would not want to waste time and effort learning from experience or feeling involved with people, and events. In that, these people would be riddled with impatience, irritability, isolation, and bitter suffering whenever control efforts fail. What we see in this is something close to the Type A behavior pattern (e.g., Friedman and Rosenman 1974), with all its physical, mental,

and social vulnerabilities. Such people would be egotistical, and vulnerable to see-

ing themselves as better than the others, and having nothing more to learn. There is surprisingly little to call hardiness in this orientation. Now, imagine people high in commitment, but simultaneously low in control and challenge. Such people would be completely enmeshed with, and defined by  the people, things, and events around them, never thinking to have an influence through, or to reflect on their experience of their interactions. They would have little or no individuality, and their sense of meaning would be completely given by the social interactions and institutions in which they would lose themselves. Such people would be extremely vulnerable whenever any changes were imposed  on them. There is certainly little to call hardiness here. Finally, imagine people who, though high in challenge, are simultaneously low in control and commitment. Such people would be preoccupied with novelty, 

Hardiness as the Pathway to Resilience


caring little for the others, things, and events around them and not imagining they could have a real influence on anything. They might appear to be learning con- stantly, but this would be trivial in comparison with their investment in the thrill of novelty per se. They would resemble adventurers (Maddi 1970) and could be expected to engage in games of chance and risky activities for the excitement that they bring. Once again, there is little of hardiness in this. I could continue by showing you how any two of the 3Cs, without the third, is still shy of hardiness. However, I hope this is not necessary and that the point is clear that it is the combination of strength in all 3Cs that constitutes hardiness. People  who  are  simultaneously  strong  in  all  of  the  3Cs  tend  to  (1)  see  life  as  a  continually changing phenomenon that provokes them to learn and change (chal- lenge), (2) think that through this developmental process, they can work on the changes in a fashion that turns them into fulfilling experiences (control), and (3) share this effort and learning in a supportive way with the significant others and institutions in their lives (commitment). Thus, conceptually, all three Cs of hardy attitudes need to be strong, in order to provide the existential courage and motivation to do the hard work of turning stresses to advantage. That hard work involves hardy coping, hardy social inter- action, and hardy self-care (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004; Maddi 2002). Coping that is hardy involves clear identification of stressful circumstances, analysis of what can be done to resolve them by turning them to growth advantage, and car- rying out the steps that result from this identification and analysis. The opposite of hardy, problem-solving coping is denial and avoidance, by trying not to notice stressful circumstances, and distracting oneself through excessive activities, such as overspending, gambling, and substance addiction. Hardy social interaction involves giving and getting social support from the significant others in one’s life. The opposite of hardy social interaction is feeling victimized and acting on this to punish the supposed victimizers, and overprotect one’s supposed allies. Hardy self-care involves protecting one’s bodily functioning by engaging in relaxation procedures, eating in a balanced and moderate way, and keeping a moderate level of physical activity. The opposite of hardy self-care involves no effort to moderate bodily arousal, indulgence in eating overly sweet and fatty foods, and becoming a “couch potato.” Hardiness has been put forward as the pathway to resilience under stress (Bonanno 2004; Maddi 2005). Resilience is often considered the phenomenon of  maintaining your performance and health, despite the occurrence of stressful cir- cumstances. I emphasize that resilience should also be considered to involve not only this survival, but thriving as well, in the sense that stressful circumstances can also enhance performance and health, through what you learn and then use. Thus, I expect that the combination of strong hardiness attitudes and strategies will result in the best possible living in our turbulent times. Also, we believe that hardiness can be learned. It is best, needless to say, if that learning takes place early in your life, through the nature of your interactions with your parents and other mentors (Khoshaba and Maddi 1999; Maddi 2002). But, hardiness can be learned at any time in life through our hardiness training program



Personal Hardiness as the Basis for Resilience 

(Khoshaba and Maddi 2004; Maddi 1987, 2002). What is especially important in learning hardiness is that the parent or mentor support you in practicing problem- solving coping, supportive social interaction, and beneficial self-care, and also show you how to use the experiential feedback resulting from these hardy strate- gies to enhance the hardy attitudes. Thus, when you function on your own, you will have not only the knowledge of how to do problem solving, socially-support- ive interactions, and beneficial self-care, but also the courage and motivation to carry out this needed hard work.

The Longitudinal Study of Stress at Illinois Bell Telephone

As indicated earlier, the magazine article my student brought me in 1974, which emphasized avoiding stress because it can kill you, did not make sense to me, especially as my ongoing research was showing how it is specifically people who

are oriented toward change who are likely to be creative. This contradiction led me to feel provoked to consider the importance of studying whether there are individ- ual differences in whether stressful circumstances undermine or enhance perfor- mance and health, and if so, whether the individual differences concern hardiness.

So, I convinced my research team that we needed to do research on such indi-

vidual differences in a sample of people undergoing substantial stresses. At the time, I was a psychology consultant for Illinois Bell Telephone (IBT), which was headquartered in Chicago. Then, the telephone industry was a federally-regulated monopoly, as our government believed that reliable, inexpensive telephone service was in the national interest. In this, IBT was a subsidiary of the parent company, American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), and none of these companies needed to be competitive, or worry about their bottom lines. At the time, the Executive Vice President of IBT was Carl Horn, with whom I  had become friendly through my consulting work for his company. We had both talked about how the monopoly status of AT&T and its subsidiaries probably would be drawing to a close in the near future, as our federal government was beginning to believe that more business competition was necessary in order to hasten the development of the telecommunications industry, and insure that the United  States  would  be  at  the  center  of  that  development. Although  “the  writing  was on the wall,” neither he nor I could predict how many months or years might pass before the deregulation would occur. But, there was no uncertainty that the deregulation would be a colossally stressful disruption for the company and its employees. I shared with Carl Horn the importance of my team doing research on the dif- ferent sorts of performance and health reactions people might have when they experience stressful circumstances. In this, I emphasized the excessive nature of the Family Circle article on the importance of avoiding stresses, and asked whether he would permit us to study IBT employees before, during, and after the impending federal deregulation of the telephone monopoly. He not only agreed

The Longitudinal Study of Stress at Illinois Bell Telephone


to endorse this study, but also offered to pay some of its expenses. In addition, I had financial grant support from the National Institute of Health. So, we rushed to  develop and carry out our natural experiment at IBT. By 1975, we were ready to begin data collection. Carl Horn sent a request to the supervisors, managers, and decision-makers at IBT, introducing our data col- lection procedures, encouraging them to volunteer to participate in the study, and promised them anonymity. But, he did not elaborate what the study was about. The resulting sample was 259 employees, who we tested comprehensively and regularly over the years of the study. Administered were many existing question- naires, covering personality characteristics, social interaction patterns, and signs of stress, strain, motivation, and beliefs. In this regard, we included each year the set of test items we had composed to cover the 3Cs of hardiness. Over the years, sub- samples were also interviewed, covering many of the same areas, and also empha- sizing early developmental experiences. In addition to these psychological data, we also had available to us the perfor- mance data, such as job evaluations, promotions, and demotions that was ordinar- ily compiled by IBT. We also had available our participant’s medical information, as it was IBT’s procedure to give each of its supervisors, managers, and decision- makers a free yearly physical examination on their birthday, and free treatment if, and when, they became ill. We continued to collect the yearly data mentioned above, as we waited for the anticipated federal deregulation of the telephone industry. That deregulation hap- pened in 1981 (6 years into our research program), and is still regarded as one of the major business upheavals in history. A sign of this at IBT was that it went from roughly 26,000 employees in 1981, to just over 14,000 in 1982. Nearly 50 % of the employees were terminated in the downsizing required in order for the company to become more economically competitive in the new market conditions. And, the work roles of those employees who remained were continually reorganized, in the attempt to get the company to be successfully competitive. There were also many subjective signs of this upheaval. For example, early in 1983, we asked a manager in our sample what the deregulation was like for him. He indicated that he had 10 different supervisors in 12 months. He said, “they were in and out the door, and didn’t know what they were doing. And, I don’t know what I am doing either.” We continued to collect performance and health data for 6 years after the deregulation upheaval, in this study that has come to be regarded as a classical natural experiment (Maddi and Kobasa 1984). What we found is that, following the deregulation, two-thirds of the employees in our sample fell apart, showing various  breakdown  symptoms.  Physically,  there  were  heart  attacks,  strokes,  kid- ney  failures,  cancers,  and  suicides.  Psychologically,  there  was  depression,  anxi- ety, excessive spending, divorces, and dependency on alcohol, drugs, and other addictive experiences. But, the other third of the sample were resilient by not only surviving, but also thriving. If they stayed at IBT, they tended to rise to the top of the heap in the reorganization. If they left IBT, they either used their experi- ence to start their own companies in the new competitive industry, or joined other startup companies and rose to the top of the heap there. If anything, they showed



Personal Hardiness as the Basis for Resilience 

more excitement, enthusiasm, motivation, and fulfillment than they had before the upheaval. They showed many signs that the upheaval and reorganization necessi- ties led them to grow and develop. These findings clearly supported my position that there are individual differences in the reaction of people to stressful circum- stances. Whereas some people are undermined, others are enhanced in their per- formance and health. Another major consideration in this research was to see whether there were psychological factors existing before the deregulation that could have influ- enced the difference between the two-thirds of the sample that were undermined by the upheaval, and the one-third that survived and thrived. Needless to say, the major emphasis of this study was the attitudes and strategies that I came to call hardiness. Concerning the hardy attitudes, we composed various questionnaire items for commitment,  control,  or  challenge.  Examples  are,  for  commitment:  “Most  days  life  is  interesting  and  exciting  for  me”,  for  control:  “People’s  misfortunes  result  from the mistakes they make”, and for challenge: “I easily start in on unexpected new tasks”. Considering the relevant data for the 15 composed items for each of the attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge showed adequate reliability both in terms of internal consistency and stability. Further, each of the 3Cs showed moderate positive correlations with the other two, as was expected, in order to consider them together as the attitudes of hardiness. Although measurement of hardy attitudes has improved greatly in the years since the IBT study, that study made a good start. At the attitudinal level, we also included a measure of Type A personality, an

approach that was emphasized at the time (Friedman and Rosenman 1974). People 

high in Type A personality are driven, impatient, and competitive, unsatisfied with themselves, and experience great time pressure. At the hardy strategy level, we included two measures from a well-known cop- ing test (Folkman and Lazarus 1980). One measure involved items showing an attempt  to  resolve  work  stresses  by  working  on  transforming  them.  Examples  of  the items included: “I knew what had to be done, so I doubled my efforts and tried harder to make things work” and “I came up with a couple of different solutions to the problem.” The other coping measure, which seemed the opposite of hardiness, involved engaging in denial and avoidance coping of work stresses. Examples of  the items included: “Tried to forget the whole thing,” and “Daydreamed or imag- ined a better place than the one I was in.” Also included concerning hardy strategies was a measure of interacting with others in a socially-supportive way (Moos et al. 1974). Sample items include, for  family interactions: “We say anything we want to around home,” and “There is plenty of time and attention for everyone in our family.” For work interactions, sample  items  are:  “Superiors  really  stand  up  for  their  people,”  and  “People  take  a personal interest in each other.” In measuring hardy health practices, interview data was used concerning dieting, smoking, alcohol intake, drug use, relaxation, and physical exercise.

The Longitudinal Study of Stress at Illinois Bell Telephone


Throughout the study, we also included measures of both stress and strain symp- toms (Maddi and Kobasa 1984). The stress measure included such items as “Recently,  I’ve  had  a  career  or  job  change”,  and  “Recently,  I  have  experienced  an  illness  in  a  family member or friend.” The strain measure included such items as “Often, I have general aches and pains”, and “I’ve been having troubling dreams lately.” Finally, a measure of constitutional strengths and weaknesses was included, with the kind of interview data often used by physicians. The participants were asked to report on the number of major illnesses presumed to have some heredi- tary basis that their natural parents suffered. In this, we assumed that parents who had few of these illnesses had passed on stronger physical constitutions to their children (who, of course, constituted our sample). As to results, we found, as expected, that the hardy attitudes were positively related to the hardy strategy of problem-solving coping, and negatively related to avoidance coping. Further, the hardy attitudes were positively related to the hardy strategy of socially-supportive interactions, and unrelated to Type A social behavior. The hardy attitudes were also positively related to the hardy strategy of beneficial self-care. These findings emerged in the data before the upheaval, and continued on after the upheaval. Indeed, the pattern of hardy attitudes and strate- gies was predominant in the managers who survived and thrived after the deregu- lation, whereas the opposite pattern characterized those who fell apart. As to effects on bodily reactions to stressful circumstances, we found that prior to the deregulation, the intensity of stress and strain reactions of managers was lower in those with hardy attitudes and strategies, than in those low in hardiness (Kobasa et al. 1981, 1982a, b). This pattern continued after the deregulation, even though the amount of stress and strain understandably increased in most managers. In one study (Kobasa et al. 1986), hardy attitudes, social support, and physical exer- cise were compared in their health effectiveness after the deregulation. Among man- agers who were all above the sample median in stresses, the total hardy attitudes was roughly twice as effective in decreasing risk of illness than were social support and physical exercise. Of particular interest was the synergistic beneficial effect of these three stress-buffering variables: Managers with two stress buffers did some- what better than those with only one, but those with all three buffers did remarkably better than those with only two. We also found no relationship between hardiness measures and constitutional strength, either before or after the deregulation.

Hardiness Helps Turn Stresses into Growth Opportunities

All in all, the pattern of results in the IBT study supported the conceptualization of hardiness as a pattern of attitudes and skills that facilitates or even enhances performance and health under great stress. The results also showed that hardy managers expected stress, and saw it as an opportunity to do what they could to transform it and thereby grow in fulfillment. A particularly noteworthy example in a manager whose questionnaire results showed high hardiness both before and



Personal Hardiness as the Basis for Resilience 

Fig. 2.1 The  Hardiness  Model  for 

Fig. 2.1

The  Hardiness  Model  for  performance  and  Health  Enhancement,  ©  Copyright  1986–


after the upheaval involved his answer to the question (asked of him before the upheaval), “What is it like to be a manager in this company?” He responded, “To be an accepted manager in this company you have to have a bell-shaped head.” When asked what that meant, he pointed to a several-volume work on his book- shelf that was published by the parent company, AT&T. Then he said, “When a problem arises, you do not think it through on your own. Instead, you go to the index of these books by Ma Bell, and you are directed to the part of the books you need to read, which reading tells you exactly what to do. That is what I mean by needing to have a bell-shaped head.” Interestingly enough, this manager was among those who felt much more ener- getic after the upheaval, immersed himself in using his talent to figure out what needed to be done in the chaotic environment, experienced few signs of perfor- mance and health breakdowns, and rose to the top of his reorganizing company. Figure 2.1 diagrams the general pattern of results of the IBT project, and is quite consistent with the additional research findings in subsequent studies over the next 25 years. The bad news depicted in this Hardiness Model is the sinister line near the top. The first box considers the total of your stressful circumstances, which circumstances may be either acute or chronic. Acute stresses involve dis- ruptive changes, such as unexpected automobile accidents, or job losses. Chronic stresses involve a continuing mismatch between what you want and what you get. For example, you may see yourself as a loving person, but are unable to find someone on whom to lavish that. Or, as in the IBT manager exampled above, you may see yourself as a capable and resilient person, but have to just fit in to be con- sidered doing your job well.

Hardiness Helps Turn Stresses into Growth Opportunities


The model also shows that stressful events that are not resolved have the effect of increasing bodily strain, or arousal. This arousal is what Cannon (1929) called the “fight or flight” response. Before there was civilization, whenever humans would encounter the stress of other animals bigger and stronger than them, what was evolu- tionarily important was the mobilization of energy that facilitated either fighting back or running away. Arousal hormones and glucose would be pumped into the blood stream, so that the mind and muscles would have the energy needed to make quick decisions and carry them out. Now that we live in more civilized times, the stresses we encounter tend not to involve bigger and stronger animals. Nonetheless, the effect of our current stressful circumstances is the same on the bodily arousal. But, even with this bodily arousal, we are unlikely to fight or run away. If we do not resolve the stresses by problem-solving, the arousal persists as what we now call strain. Further, the hardiness model shows that when strain becomes too high and too prolonged, bodily and psychological resources are depleted, and breakdowns occur.  This  has  been  shown  in  Selye’s  (1976) award-winning research. These breakdowns can be physical, such as the so-called “wear and tear” diseases of the circulatory and digestive systems. Breakdowns can also be psychosocial and emotional, such as failing to meet deadlines, disregarding significant others, and depression and anxiety disorders. The last piece of bad news depicted in the hardi- ness model is the box at the top of the figure, which proposes that, when strain- related breakdowns occur, they may do so along the lines of our constitutional weaknesses. The good news involves the four boxes at the bottom of the model, which together conceptualize how stress and strain can be kept within manageable limits, so that the likelihood of breakdowns is minimized and, indeed, performance and health may even be enhanced. The box at the left summarizes the hardy attitudes of interrelated commitment, control, and challenge. Together, these attitudes con- stitute the existential courage and motivation needed to do the hard work of trans- forming the stressful circumstances from potentials for breakdowns into growth opportunities instead. These courageous attitudes stimulate hardy (problem-solv- ing) coping, rather than regressive (denial and avoidance) coping. The hardy atti- tudes also stimulate socially-supportive (rather than competitive) interactions with significant others. The combination of hardy attitudes, hardy coping, and hardy social interactions facilitates turning stressful circumstances to developmental advantage. In this, one has the courage and strategies that permit (1) clear evaluation of the stressful cir- cumstances, (2) a consequently emerging sense of what can be done to learn from them and increase in capability thereby, and (3) persistence in carrying out what has been learned. As shown in the diagram, this process will reduce the stressful circumstances, and in that way, decrease strain, and the likelihood of breakdowns. The hardiness model also shows that hardy attitudes can facilitate the strategy of beneficial (rather than undermining) self-care. This helpful self-care involves keeping bodily arousal at an optimal level, so that there is enough energy to carry out the hard work of hardy coping and socially-supportive interactions, but not so much energy that the careful, ongoing work involved in this coping and social



Personal Hardiness as the Basis for Resilience 

interaction is impossible. When your arousal level is getting too high, beneficial self-care involves relaxation exercises, nutrition that moderates sweet and fatty foods, and physical exercise that helps in using up the excess energy. As the dia- gram shows, hardy attitudes helps with hardy self-care, and this decreases bodily arousal level. But, beneficial self-care, by itself, does little to reduce the stressful- ness of the circumstances provoking excessive bodily arousal. Only hardy coping and social interactions can decrease the stressfulness of the circumstances, through turning them to advantage by what is learned. But, it should not be concluded from what I have been saying that the best out- come is to avoid any stress and strain, and thereby feel comfortable. After all, as I have said before, life is by its nature stressful. So, it is not possible to avoid stress  all together, and still be living well. The aim of hardiness attitudes and strategies is to recognize stresses, learn from them, and thereby move one’s living toward wis- dom and fulfillment. And, this is an ongoing process, not one that once achieved, indicates that nothing further is required. Indeed, if it were possible to resolve pre- sent and future stresses completely, one’s resulting life would not be comfortable and stable. You would get so bored that soon you would begin engaging in exces- sive attempts to find stimulation, such as over spending, gambling, abusing alco- hol and other stimulating substances, sexual promiscuity, and even aggressiveness and law-breaking. After all, the cortex of the human brain evolved in a fashion that facilitates learning and growing. This remarkable cortex therefore requires stimulation in order to keep functioning. The psychological research on the effects of stimulus deprivation shows this. When research participants were deprived of stimulation for a long time, they actually began hallucinating (such as seeing one’s head separated from one’s body and floating around the room), and often quit par- ticipating in the study, even though that meant not getting the substantial money payments promised (cf., Fiske 1961). It certainly seems as if our human brains need constant stimulation, even if that stimulation is stressful, as that then pro- vokes transforming the stress into new learning and wisdom. It seems clear that it is not the best answer to deny and avoid stressful circumstances, just because pay- ing attention to, and learning from them, can be a consuming process.


Bonanno,  G.  (2004).  Loss,  trauma,  and  human  resilience:  How  we  underestimated  the  human  capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events. American Psychologist, 51, 72–82. Cannon, W.B. (1929). Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear, and rage. New York: Appleton. Fiske,  D.  W.  (1961).  Effects  of  monotonous  and  restricted  stimulation.  In  D.W.  Fiske,  &  S.  R.  Maddi (Eds.), Functions of varied experience. Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press.

Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1980). An analysis of coping in a middle-aged community sam-

ple. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 21, 219–239. Friedman, M., & Rosenman, R. H. (1974). Type A behavior and your heart. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Khoshaba, D. M., & Maddi, S. R. (1999). Early experiences in hardiness development. Consult



Khoshaba, D. M., & Maddi, S. R. (2004). HardiTraining: managing stressful change (5th ed.). Irvine: Hardiness Institute. Kobasa,  S.  C.  (1979).  Stressful  life  events,  personality  and  health:  An  inquiry  into  hardiness.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1–11.

Kobasa, S. C., Maddi, S. R., & Courington, S. (1981). Personality and constitution as mediators 

of the stress-illness relationship. J Health Soc Behav, 22, 368–378.

Kobasa, S. C, Maddi, S. R., &  Kahn, S. (1982a). Hardiness and health: a prospective study. J

Pers Soc Psychol 42:168–177.

Kobasa, S. C., Maddi, S. R., & Puccetti, M. (1982b). Personality and exercise as buffers in the 

stress-illness relationship. J Behav Med, 4, 391–404.

Kobasa, S. C., Maddi, S. R., Puccetti, M., & Zola, M. A. (1986). Relative effectiveness of hardi-

ness, exercise, and social support as resources against illness. J Psychosom Res, 29, 525–533. Maddi,  S.  R.  (1969).  The  pursuit  of  consistency  and  variety.  In  R.  Abelson,  E.  Aronson,  W.  McGuire,   T.   Newcomb,   M.   Rosenberg,   and   P.   Tannenbaum   (Eds.),   Theories of cognitive con - sistency: A sourcebook. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally. Maddi, S. R. (1970). The search for meaning. In M. Page (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motiva- tion. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Maddi,   S.   R.   (1987).   Hardiness   training   at   Illinois   Bell   Telephone.   In   J.   P.   Opatz   (Ed.),   Health promotion evaluation (pp. 101–115). Stevens Point, WI: National Wellness Institute.

Maddi, S. R. (1994). The Hardiness Enhancing Lifestyle Program (HELP) for improving physi-

cal,  mental,  and  social  wellness.  In  C.  Hopper  (Ed.),  Wellness lecture series. Oakland:

University of California/HealthNet.

Maddi, S. R. (2002). The story of hardiness: twenty years of theorizing, research, and practice. 

Consult Psychol J 54:173–185.

Maddi,  S.  R.  (2004).  Hardiness:  An  operationalization  of  existential  courage.  J Humanist Psychol, 44, 279–298. Maddi, S. R. (2005). On hardiness and other pathways to resilience. Am Psychol, 60, 261–262.

executive: health under stress. Homewood:

Dow Jones-Irwin. Moos,   R.   H.,   Insel,   P.   M.,   &   Humphrey,   B.   (1974).   Family, work and group environment scales manual. Palo Alta, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. Selye, H. (1976). The stress of life (2nd Ed.). New York: Lippencott.

Maddi,  S.  R.,  &  Kobasa,  S.  C.  (1984).  The hardy

Chapter 3

Thirty Years of Hardiness Validational Research and Practice

Abstract The measure of the hardy attitudes has gone through several improvements, and is now an 18 item scale called the Personal Views Survey III-R. Research has shown that the test is a valid indicator of commitment, con- trol, and challenge, which together constitute the hardy attitudes. This test is a positive predictor of various indices of performance and health, and a negative predictor of strain and denial and avoidance, in working adults and college stu- dents. The hardy attitudes test has also been shown to be a positive predictor of the hardy strategies of problem-solving coping, socially-supportive interac- tions, and beneficial self-care. These hardy strategies have also been shown to be positive predictors of performance and health. Also, the hardy attitudes are better predictors of performance and health than are optimism, religiosity, and well-being. Research has also shown that hardiness can be learned, especially through parental encouragement and assistance of their young.

Keywords  Hardiness validational research  •  Performance  •  Health  •  Anxiety  •  Depression  •  Creativity  •  Conduct  •  Strain  •  Military personnel  •  Firefighters  •  Athletes  •  Nurses  •  Working adults  •  College students

In the years since the IBT study, the hardiness approach has been considerably elaborated and is now an established part of psychology. Important in this devel- opment has been an active interplay between theory, research, and practice. Hundreds of studies have been done around the world, and the hardy attitudes measure  has  been  translated  into  18  foreign  languages.  What  follows  is  a  brief  account of what has taken place in hardiness theorizing, and researching.

Hardiness Emerges as a Distinctive Pattern of Attitudes and Strategies

The hardy attitudes questionnaire that had been used in the IBT longitudinal study included 55 relevant items. The test had shown adequate internal consistency reli- ability for the commitment, control, and challenge subscales. And, of course, there

S. R. Maddi, Hardiness, SpringerBriefs in Psychology,

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-5222-1_3, © The Author(s) 2013




Thirty Years of Hardiness Validational Research and Practice

was evidence of validity in the test’s positive relationships with subjective measures of problem-solving coping, socially-supportive interactions, and beneficial self-care. In addition, the hardy attitudes measure showed negative relationships with not only subjective, but also objective measures of illness symptoms and performance

difficulties (e.g., Maddi and Kobasa 1984).

Studies beyond IBT showed similar patterns of results with such samples as

bus drivers (Bartone 1989), lawyers (Kobasa et al. 1982), and nurses (Keane et al. 

1985).  In  these  and  other  samples,  hardy  attitudes,  as  measured  by  the  Personal  Views Survey (PVS) showed positive relationships with the hardy strategies, and  negative relationships with reported strain, illness symptoms, and performance problems. But, in some studies using undergraduate samples, one of the three Cs,  challenge, was sometimes not related to the other two, commitment and control

(e.g., Funk and Houston 1987). This led to a revision of the hardiness measure to 

30 items (the PVS II) that were worded in a manner relevant not only to working 

adults, but college students as well. In this revision, internal consistency reliability was improved, and the challenge subscale showed regular positive relationships with  the  commitment  and  control  subscales  (Maddi  1997).  Since  then,  two 

 additional  revisions  (the  PVS  III,  and  the  PVS  III-R)  have  taken  place,  with  the  aim of shortening the test and improving its reliability and validity. The present

edition (PVS III-R) is only 18 items, is psychometrically improved, and has a wide 

range of applicability. The general pattern with regard to these recent revisions of

the hardiness measure is that of a positive correlation between all of the 3Cs, and 

each  of  them  and  the  total  hardy  attitudes  score  (Maddi  1994, 1997;  Maddi  and 

Khoshaba 2001). Consistent with this are the findings of the factor analytic study 

of Sinclair and Tetrick (2000), which shows that the 3Cs are first-order, positively-

correlated factors, that lead to the total hardy attitudes as a second-order factor. Early on, the validity of the hardy attitudes measure was further questioned by the  alternative  interpretation  (e.g.,  Funk  1992; Funk and Houston 1987; Hull et al. 1987) that hardy attitudes might be nothing more than the opposite of  negative  affectivity, or neuroticism. That the PVS II could not be explained away like this is

indicated by a study (Maddi and Khoshaba 1994) in which hardy attitudes and an 

accepted measure of negative affectivity were entered into regression analyses as independent variables in the attempt to predict the clinical scales of the Minnesota  Multiphasic  Personality  Inventory  (MMPI)  as  dependent  variables.  With  the  effects of negative affectivity controlled, hardiness was still a pervasive negative predictor  of  MMPI  clinical  scale  scores.  Further  undermining  the  negative     affectivity  criticism  is  a  study  that  used  an  objective  measure  of  strain  (Maddi  1999),  showing  hardiness  to  be  higher  among  employees  whose  nurse-measured  blood pressure was in the normal range than it was among those with high blood pressure. The  study  by  Maddi  and  Khoshaba  (1994)  went  further  in  countering  the  assertion that hardiness is just the opposite of negative affectivity or neuroti- cism. The study investigated the relationship between hardy attitudes and the five-factor model. Those findings showed that, although the hardy attitudes meas- ure is negatively related to the neuroticism scale of the NEO-FFI measure of the 

Hardiness Emerges as a Distinctive Pattern of Attitudes and Strategies


five-factor model of personality, it is also positively related with all four of the

other  factors (i.e., extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to 

 experience). Thus, recent hardy attitudes measures are more than negative affectiv-

ity. Interestingly enough, all of the five factors together only accounted for 25 % of 

the variance of hardiness, suggesting that the latter is not merely a combination of the five factors as a depiction of personality. So hardiness theorizing and measure- ment appears to have something to contribute to psychology. An experiential sampling study furthers the view that the hardy attitudes meas-

ure is a valid expression of participants’ experiences (Maddi 1999). In this study, 

working adults who had already completed the PVS III were subsequently paged at  random  10  times  a  day  for  3  days.  When  they  were  paged,  their  task  was  to  complete a short questionnaire about what they were doing, and how that was going for them. The results indicated a positive relationship between PVS III scores  and  personal  descriptions  that  showed  (1)  involvement  with  others  and  ongoing  activities  (commitment),  (2)  a  sense  that  their  ongoing  experiences  had 

been  chosen,  and  influenced  by  them  (control),  and  (3)  that  there  was  a  positive  process of learning going on in these activities (challenge). In further studies, the expected positive correlations have been found between the  hardy  attitudes  measure  and  standard  measures  of  (1)  the  hardy  strategies  of  problem-solving  (rather  than  denial  and  avoidance)  coping  (e.g.,  Maddi  1999; Maddi  and  Hightower  1999;  Maddi  et  al.  2006),  (2)  socially-supportive  (rather  than  competitive  or  overprotective)  interactions  with  others  (e.g.,  Maddi  and  Kobasa,  1984;  Maddi  et  al.  2006),  and  (3)  beneficial  (rather  than  undermining) 

self-care (e.g., Allred and Smith 1989; Contrada 1989; Khoshaba and Maddi 2004;

Maddi et al. 1996; Weibe and McCallum 1986). These findings support the theo-

rizing that considers hardiness to be a pattern of attitudes and strategies that can influence performance and health.

Hardiness Improves Health Under Stress

There are also accumulated findings indicating that hardiness renders self con-

fidence and resiliency to people experiencing stressful changes. In this regard, a number of studies show that hardy attitudes have a buffering effect on both strain

and illness symptoms. One such study involved the impact of a military air disas-

ter on the health of assistance workers (Bartone et al. 1989). The higher the hardy 

attitudes of the assistance workers, the less were their signs of strain and illnesses. Also,  Harvey  (2005)  studied  undergraduates  who  were  told  that  they  would  have to give a difficult talk in one of their courses. The higher their hardiness

 levels (which had been measured before the talk was imposed on them), the more  effectively and gracefully they responded to the stressful requirement, and the less did they show signs of strain measured physiologically. With similar results, 

Kobasa et al. (1982) studied the illness symptoms of a subsample of IBT managers 

from the year before, to the year after the deregulation. Understandably, this great



Thirty Years of Hardiness Validational Research and Practice

upheaval increased the overall level of illness symptoms. But, the managers high in hardiness showed a much lower increase than did those low in hardiness. There  is  also  a  study  by  Kuo  and  Tsai  (1986)  in  which  hardy  attitudes  were  measured  in  a  Chinese  sample  of  people  about  to  emigrate  to  the  United  States.  They found that, the higher the hardy attitudes levels prior to emigration, the lower the signs of stress, strain, and illnesses in the first few years in the new country. One  possible  alternative  explanation  to  the  greater  tolerance  of  stress  and  strain provided by strong hardy attitudes is that these attitudes simply encourage denial and avoidance. But, there are findings showing a negative relationship

between hardy attitudes and defensive repression (Maddi et al. 2006). Repression 

in this study was measured through a standard, accepted approach involving a combination of a high score on socially-desirable responding and a low score on anxiety  (Jamner  and  Schwartz  1986;  Myers  and  Steed  1999).  Our  findings  are  consistent with the conceptualization of hardiness as a way of recognizing and working with stress and strain, rather than denying and avoiding them.

Hardiness Improves Performance and Conduct Under Stress

Consistent  with  the  IBT  results  are  those  of  many  subsequent  studies  showing  that hardy attitudes are not only positively associated with hardy strategies, but

with enhanced performance as well. For example, Maddi and Hess (1992) meas-

ured hardy attitudes in high school, varsity basketball players from a number of schools during the summer, before the regular sports season began. Then, they obtained from the team coaches performance data throughout the ensuing season on these players. The performance data involved seven characteristics, such as number of points scored, assists, and foul-outs. The results showed that hardiness was positively related to positive measures of performance, and negatively related to measures of poor performance. The only performance measure not related to hardiness was number of free throws scored. Interestingly enough, free throws are routinely practiced every day by varsity players, and take place during the only moments of calm in a basketball game. So, it appears that hardiness helped these varsity players address the ongoing stresses of the games, and enhanced their ensuing behavior. Another sports study involved women who were competing to become mem- bers  of  the  1994  U.S.  Olympic  synchronized  swimming  team  (Lancer  2000).  These female athletes had completed the PVS III at the beginning of the struggle to become members of the U.S. team. Once the competition was over, it became  clear that those who made the team had higher levels of hardiness than those who failed. Then, in the Olympics competition, the U.S. synchronized swimming team  and the team from another country tied for first place, and a playoff was necessary to determine the winner. The U.S. team lost the playoff, and the two of its swim- mers with the poorest performance were the ones with the lowest hardiness scores.

Hardiness Improves Performance and Conduct Under Stress


There have also been a number of studies showing a positive relationship between hardiness and performance of military personnel in ongoing stressful

circumstances. For example, Bartone (1999) studied U.S. Army members in vari-

ous stressful circumstances, such as peace-keeping and combat missions abroad. Using various dependent variables and prospective designs, he has found consid- erable evidence that the lower hardy attitudes were, when measured prior to the missions, the greater was the likelihood that life-threatening stresses and culture shock of military engagement abroad would lead to such mental breakdowns as depression and post-traumatic stress disorders. There have been similar findings in studies concerning the experience of non life-threatening, non military culture shock  for American  employees  on  work  missions  abroad  (Atella  1989),  and  for 

immigrants to the U.S. (Kuo and Tsai 1986).

Similar results have also been reported on people undergoing the intentionally

stressful training of military personnel. Westman (1990) studied men and women 

in officer training school for the Israeli military. She measured hardiness levels before the participants entered training, and determined their observations and per- formance throughout the training. The higher the hardiness, the greater was the tendency to perceive the training as stressful, but to graduate successfully. After all, officer training school is intended to be stressful, in order to separate the resil- ient from the vulnerable. If one’s ability to see a problem clearly is impeded by complacency or defensiveness, how can one cope with it effectively enough to find

a solution? Along those lines, Florian et al. (1995) found that hardiness positively 

predicts  mental  health  at  the  end  of  a  4-month  combat  training  program  for  the  Israeli military. By path analysis, they showed that mediating factors included an increase in problem-solving coping and support-seeking interaction strategies. These findings are quite consistent with hardiness theorizing. Also consistent with these findings on hardiness as a force in performing well during  stressful  training  is  a  study  by  Bartone  and  Snook  (1999).  In  a  group  of  cadets at U.S. Military Academy, it was found that the best predictor of leadership  behavior  over  the  4-year  training  program  was  hardiness,  measured  early  in  the  training process. Further, it has been found that hardiness, measured in firefighter cadets before their four-and-a-half-month, strenuous training began, predicted who  would  stay  in  the  program,  and  perform  well  (Maddi  et  al.  2007). A  simi- lar pattern of results is emerging in studies of male and female undergraduates. Lifton  et  al.  (2000)  have  found  that  among  high-risk  undergraduates,  hardiness  measured just after their arrival on campus was a positive predictor of retention over  the  4-year  program.  Further,  it  has  been  shown  that  there  is  a  positive  cor- relation  between hardiness  and  grade-point-average  in  undergraduates  (Maddi et  al. 2009). There are also findings showing a positive relationship between hardiness and creativity  (Maddi  et  al.  2006).  In  this,  creativity  was  measured  by  the  Unusual  Uses test, which provides participants with a list of everyday objects, and asks them to indicate four ways in which each object can be used. Then, the usages are compared for frequency across the entire sample. This showed that the higher the hardiness, the more infrequent are the proposed usages.



Thirty Years of Hardiness Validational Research and Practice

There is also one study about hardiness and conduct (Maddi et al. 1996). This 

study concerned alcohol and drug use among recent high school graduates. The results showed that, although almost all the participants indicated that they had tried alcohol and drugs, there was a negative relationship between hardiness and continued use of these debilitating substances. Although these results were based on self-report data, the findings were also confirmed by concurrent urine tests. Additional conduct studies are currently under way.

The Relative Effectiveness of Hardiness and Other Individual Characteristics

Some additional studies have compared the relative effects of hardy attitudes and other personality factors in determining coping strategies and performance. This beginning emphasis on the role of various individual difference characteristics on performance and health is very important. An early effort of this sort compared the relative effectiveness of hardy atti- tudes  and  optimism  on  problem-solving  and  avoidance  coping  (Maddi  and  Hightower 1999). In the first study, male and female undergraduates were admin- istered measures of the personality characteristics of hardy attitudes and optimism, and of both problem-solving and avoidance coping efforts. The second study fol- lowed the same pattern, but used different coping measures. In these two studies, the stressful circumstances were the ongoing pressures of college life. To increase the experienced stresses, the third study involved a sample of females who had been referred by their physicians to a local hospital where their breast lumps would be tested to see if they were cancerous. In the third study, hardy attitudes and optimism were measured before the hospital appointment at which it would be determined whether or not the lumps involved cancer. In regression analyses, hardy attitudes and optimism were used as independent variables, in the attempt to predict the coping variables as dependent variables. The approach taken in all three studies automatically purifies the independent variables of their effects on each other. The results of these three studies were sim- ilar, showing that hardy attitudes was positively related to problem-solving cop- ing, and negatively related to avoidance coping. Optimism had little or no effect in  the analyses. This is clearly consistent with our theorizing about hardy attitudes as existential courage, and suggests that there may be an element of complacency in optimism that interferes with dealing with stressful circumstances. Another comparative study involved U.S. Army officers at or above the rank of Colonel, who were spending a year of additional training, as they were regarded as  leaders  in  their  organization  (Maddi  et  al.  2006). They  completed  questionnaires  concerning hardy attitudes, religiosity, and signs of depression and anger. Here, too, regression analyses were run, with hardiness and religiosity as the independ- ent variables, and measures of depression and anger as the dependent variables. As expected, the hardy attitudes showed a pattern of negative relationships with

The Relative Effectiveness of Hardiness and Other Individual Characteristics


measures of both depression and anger, whereas religiosity had little role in these dependent variables. But, with one of the measures of anger used, there was a

significant  interaction  between  hardiness  and  religiosity.  When  the  interaction  effect was graphed, it showed that when hardiness was high, it rather then religi- osity decreased anger. But, when hardiness was low, religiosity was associated with lower anger. The results of this study are also consistent with our theorizing that hardy attitudes amount to the existential courage needed to deal directly with stresses. The findings also suggest that religiosity may not be as directly relevant to dealing effectively with stressful circumstances as is hardiness. Also  relevant  are  three  studies  done  on  undergraduate  students  (Maddi  and 

Khoshaba 2001). In each of these studies hardiness and one conceptually relevant vari-

able were measured, and compared through regression analyses in their relative effec-

tiveness in predicting subsequent grade point average (GPA). In all three studies, both  hardiness and the other personality variable showed significant positive correlations

with GPA. But, the regression analyses changed the picture. In the first study, hardi-

ness showed a stronger relationship to GPA than did Satisfaction with Life. This seems  another expression that hardiness avoids the complacency of happiness measures, such as optimism and satisfaction with life. In the second and third studies, hardiness retained  a  positive  relationship  with  GPA,  but  the  other  variables  did not. The  other  variables in these two studies concerned standard measures of academic attitudes. Taken together, these three studies suggest that it is hardiness, rather than specific aca- demic attitudes or general happiness that has an influence on college performance.

Another relevant study (Maddi and Matthews et al. 2011) utilizing a cohort of 

1254  cadets  at  the  U.S.  Military Academy.  In  this  study,  the  personality  charac- teristics of hardiness, grit, and emotional intelligence were measured before the training began, was evaluated as to their relative effect on the various performance measures used in that institution at the end of the first year of training. Needless  to say, the best predictor of these performance measures was cadet performance in  high school  (which  had been  used  as  a  criterion for  selecting applicants to  be 

cadets). The only personality characteristic that made an additional difference on  performance was hardiness, which positively predicted the grades at the end of the first year of training. Also, both hardiness and grit were positive predictors of retention during this first year of training.

Where Does Hardiness Come From?

In the research covered thus far, it appears that hardiness attitudes positively influence performance and conduct. This positive influence may well involve the moderating effect of problem-solving coping, socially-supportive interactions, and beneficial self-care on accurately perceiving stresses, managing strain, and attempting to transform the stresses to advantage by what is learned. But, where does this important hardiness come from? Is it inherited, or learned? And,  if  it  is  learned,  how  does  this  happen?  Our  relevant  theorizing  emphasizes 



Thirty Years of Hardiness Validational Research and Practice

that  hardiness  is  learned  (Maddi  and  Kobasa  1984).  In  particular,  a  sense  of  commitment to people and circumstances develops if the youngster’s parents are generally loving and supportive, approving their child’s interactions with them and others with encouragement and acceptance. Further, a sense of control, in the con- tinuing efforts to fulfill goals, is encouraged when the parents make sure that the tasks their child experiences are just a bit more difficult than what they can easily perform. In contrast, if the tasks are too easy, there will be no resulting sense of accomplishment or mastery. If the tasks are too hard, the child is likely to fail and feel powerless. And, to develop a sense of challenge, the child needs to be helped by parents to see ongoing changes as important, and a positive influence to learn, and make the best of things. In this, the environment gets seen as full of require- ments to grow and develop, and help others in this process. All together, these

three areas of positive experience build the 3Cs of hardiness, as the child develops.

Thus far, there has not been much directly relevant research on this conceptual- ization. But, there is one study involving a sample of managers at IBT, who were

interviewed concerning their early life experiences (Khoshaba and Maddi, 1999). 

The managers included in this study were selected for interviews on the basis of whether they had been shown to be regularly high or regularly low in hardiness, measured by the PVS II questionnaire. The high hardiness managers, in contrast to those who were low, described their early lives as replete with stressful changes, such as moving from place to place, frequently meeting new people, and having their parents change jobs. Their parents helped them to see these changes as just what happens, and to work together in resolving the disruptions in a manner that involved moving forward in family life. In all this, the managers, who were of course quite young at the time, were viewed by their parents as the hope of the family. The youngsters were encouraged, respected, and supported whenever they tried to help the family not only survive, but also thrive. As you can see, these results are consistent with what would be expected in the conceptualization  of  how  hardiness  is  learned.  Needless  to  say,  the  weakness  of  this study is that it involved retrospective interviews about early life, on the part of managers who were already high or low in hardiness. Further studies are needed in order to reach a firm conclusion that hardiness is a learned process. Fortunately, as will be covered in the next chapter, there are now emerging studies showing that hardiness training in adulthood can increase hardiness levels and improve subse- quent performance.


Allred,  K.  D.,  &  Smith,  T.  W.  (1989).  The  hardy  personality:  Cognitive  and  physiological  responses to evaluative threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 257–266.

Atella, M. (1989). Crossing boundaries: Effectiveness and health among western managers living 

in China. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago. Bartone,   P.   T.   (1989).   Predictors   of   stress-related   illness   in   city   bus   drivers.   Journal of Occupational Medicine, 31, 857–863.



Bartone,   P.   T.   (1999).   Hardiness   protects   against   war-related   stress   in   army   reserve   forces.   Consulting Psychology Journal, 51, 72–82. Bartone,   P.   T.,   &   Snook,   S.   A.   (1999).   Cognitive   and   personality   factors   predict   leader   develop -

ment in U.S. Army cadets. Paper presented at 35th International Applied Military Psychology 

Symposium, May, Florence, Italy. Bartone,   P.   T.,   Ursano,   R.   J.,   Wright,   K.M.,   &   Ingraham,   L.   H.   (1989).   The   impact   of   a   military   air disaster on the health of assistance workers: A prospective study. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177, 317–328.

Contrada, R. J. (1989). Type A behavior, personality hardiness, and cardiovascular responses to 

stress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 895–903.

Florian, V., Milkulincer, M., & Taubman, O. (1995). Does hardiness contribute to mental health 

during a stressful real life situation? The roles of appraisal and coping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 687–695. Funk, S. C. (1992). Hardiness: A review of theory and research. Health Psychology, 11, 335–345. Funk,  S.  C.,  &  Houston,  B.  K.  (1987).  A  critical  analysis  of  the  hardiness  scale.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 572–578. Harvey,  R.  H  (2005).  Hardiness  at  work:  Psychophysiological indicators of everyday courage under stress. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Irvine.

Hull, J. G., Van Treuren, R. R., & Virnelli, S. (1987). Hardiness and health: A critique and alter-

native approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 518–530. Jamner,  L.  D.,  &  Schwartz,  G.  E.  (1986).  Self-deception  predicts  self-report  and  endurance  of  pain. Psychosomatic Medicine, 48, 211–223. Keane, A., Ducette, J., & Adler, D. (1985). Stress in ICU and non-ICU nurses. Nursing Research, 

34, 231–236.

Khoshaba,  D.  M.,  &  Maddi,  S.  R.  (1999).  Early  experiences  in  hardiness  development.  Consulting Psychology Journal, 51, 106–116. Khoshaba, D. M., & Maddi, S. R. (2004). HardiTraining: Managing stressful change (5th ed.).  Irvine: Hardiness Institute. Kobasa,  S.  C.,  Maddi,  S.  R.,  &  Kahn,  S.  (1982).  Hardiness  and  health:  A  prospective  study.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 168–177. Kuo,  W.  H.,  &  Tsai,  Y.  (1986).  Social  networking,  hardiness,  and  immigrants’  mental  health.  Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 27, 133–149. Lancer, K. (2000). Hardiness and Olympic women’s synchronized swim team. Paper presented at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Lifton,  D.  E.,  Seay,  S.,  &  Bushke, A.  (2000).  Can  student  “hardiness”  serve  as  an  indicator  of  likely persistence to graduation? Baseline results from a longitudinal study. Academic Exchange Quarterly, Winter, 73–81.

Maddi, S. R. (1994). The Hardiness Enhancing Lifestyle Program (HELP) for improving physi-

cal,  mental,  and  social  wellness.  In  C.  Hopper  (Ed.),  Wellness lecture series.  Oakland:  University of California/HealthNet.

Maddi, S. R. (1997). Personal views survey II: a measure of dispositional hardiness. In C. P. Zalaquett 

& R. J. Woods (Eds.), Evaluating stress: A book of resources. New York: University Press.

Maddi,  S.  R.  (1999). The  personality  construct  of  hardiness,  I:  Effect  on  experiencing,  coping,  and strain. Consulting Psychology Journal, 51, 83–94.

Maddi, S. R., Brow, M., Khoshaba, D. M., & Vaitkus, M. (2006a). The relationship of hardiness 

religiosity in depression and anger. Consulting Psychology Journal, 58, 148–161.

Maddi, S. R., Harvey, R. H., Khoshaba, Fazel, M., & Resurreccion, N. (2009). Hardiness training 

facilitates performance in college. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 566–577.

Maddi, S. R., Harvey, R. H., Khoshaba, D. M., Lu, J. H., Persico, M., & Brow, M. (2006b). The 

personality construct of hardiness, III: Relationships with repression, innovativeness, authori-

tarianism, and performance. Journal of Personality, 74, 575–598.

Maddi, S. R., Harvey, R. H., Resurreccion, R., Giatras, C. D., & Raganold, S. (2007). Hardiness 

as a performance enhancer in firefighters. International Journal of Fire Service Leadership and Management, 1(2), 3–9.



Thirty Years of Hardiness Validational Research and Practice

Maddi, S. R., & Hess, M. (1992). Hardiness and success in basketball. International Journal of Sports Psychology, 23, 360–368.

Maddi, S. R., & Hightower, M. (1999). Hardiness and optimism as expressed in coping patterns. 

Consulting Psychology Journal, 51, 95–105. Maddi, S. R., & Khoshaba, D. M. (1994). Hardiness and mental health. Journal of Personality Assessment, 63, 265–274.

Maddi,  S.  R.,  &  Khoshaba,  D.  M.  (2001).  HardiSurvey III-R: Test development and internet instruction manual. Irvine: Hardiness Institute.

Maddi,  S.  R.,  &  Kobasa,  S.  C.  (1984).  The hardy executive: Health

Dow Jones-Irwin. Maddi,  S.  R.,  Matthews,  M.D.,  Kelly,  D.  R.,  Villarreal,  B.,  &  White,  M.  (2011).  The  role  of  hardiness  and  grit  in  predicting  performance  and  retention  in  USMA  cadets.  Military Psychology, submitted.

Maddi, S. R., Wadhwa, P., & Haier, R. J. (1996). Relationship of hardiness to alcohol and drug 

use in adolescents. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 22, 247–257. Myers,  L.,  &  Steed,  L.  (1999).  The  relationship  between  optimism,  dispositional  pessimism,  regressive coping, and trait anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 1261–1272. Sinclair,  R.  R.,  &  Tetrick,  L.  E.  (2000).  Implications  of  item  wording  for  hardiness  structure,  relation with neuroticism, and stress buffering. Journal of Research in Personality, 34, 1–25. Weibe,  D.  J.,  &  McCallum,  D.  M.  (1986).  Health  practices  and  hardiness  as  mediators  in  the  stress-illness relationship. Health Psychology, 5, 435–438.

Westman, M. (1990). The relationship between stress and performance: The moderating effect of 

under stress.  Homewood: 

hardiness. Human performance, 3, 141–155.

Chapter 4

Hardiness Assessment and Training

Abstract This chapter concerns hardiness assessment and training. With regard to assessments, the development over many years of an effective questionnaire measure is emphasized. Most of this work concerned the hardiness attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge, as measured by the Personal Views Survey III-R. This measure has also been included along with measures of hardy strate- gies of problem-solving coping, and socially supportive interactions, and is called the HardiSurvey III-R. Also covered is the initial form of HardiTraining, which has been expanded and improved over the years. The approach now emphasizes exercises in problem-solving coping, socially supportive interactions, effective self-care, and how the feedback obtained from these efforts deepen the hardi- ness attitudes. Research validation of the effectiveness of this training is included. Finally, reference is made to our Hardiness Train-the-Trainer program.

Keywords  Hardiness assessment  •  Hardiness training  •  Personal Views Survey  III-R  •  HardiSurvey III-R  •  Hardiness Train-the-Trainer program

There has now been more than 30 years of hardiness theorizing, researching, and practicing. In the facilitation of practice, the Hardiness Institute was formed more than 20 years ago. This company is licensed in California. By now, considerable progress has been made on measuring hardiness, and determining whether it can be effectively trained. This chapter will cover both topics.

The Development and Effectiveness of Hardiness Assessment

The measurement of hardy attitudes has improved over the years. The first meas- ure, the Personal Views Survey, involved 50 items, and was introduced in the IBT longitudinal study (Maddi and Kobasa 1984). Even before that study was com- pleted, the number of items used in measuring hardy attitudes had diminished to the 30 that most clearly showed the 3Cs of commitment, control, and challenge



Hardiness Assessment and Training

(Personal Views Survey, II). In working adults, the 3Cs measured by the Personal Views Survey II, were positively intercorrelated, as expected conceptually, and showed adequate reliability (as to internal consistency and stability). But, other studies (e.g., Funk 1992; Hull et al. 1987), mostly using college stu- dent samples, found that challenge was not always positively correlated with com- mitment and control. This problem led us to rewrite several of the items, so that they would be more relevant to college age samples, and that led to the Personal Views Survey III, which also showed adequate reliability. This version of the test showed consistent positive correlations of the 3Cs, and strong positive correla- tions of them with total hardiness scores (cf. Maddi 2002). Indeed, factor analysis results showed that the three Cs were consistent with interrelated first order factors that lead to a composite second order factor (Sinclair and Tetrick 2000). The latest version of the hardy attitudes test is the Personal Views Survey III-R. It is formed of the empirically best 18 of the 30 items of the previous version of the test (Maddi et al. 2006). In this test version, the 3cs show strong positive inter- correlations with each other, and with the total hardiness score. Internal consist- ency reliability is adequate for each of the 3cs, and for the total hardiness score. And, there is growing evidence of empirical validity. Each of the 3cs is measured by three positively and three negatively worded items. Examples of items are, for commitment, “I often wake up eager to take up life wherever it left off” (posi- tive indicator) and “It’s hard to imagine anyone getting excited about working” (negative indicator); for control, “When I make plans, I’m certain I can make them work”, (positive indicator) and “Most of what happens in life is just meant to be” (negative indicator); and for challenge, “Changes in routine provoke me to learn” (positive indicator) and “I am not equipped to handle unexpected problems of life” (negative indicator). In general, the major use of the Personal Views Survey is in research (e.g., Maddi 2002). But, there is also the HardiSurvey, III-R (copyrighted and trademarked by the Hardiness Institute), a 65 item questionnaire which includes, along with the just discussed measure of hardy attitudes, measures of hardy (problem-solving) cop- ing, and hardy (socially-supportive) interactions. Also included are measures of stress, strain, and regressive (avoidance) coping. Taken together, the scores on these various scales produce a comprehensive report of stress resilience and stress vulnerability, along with recommendations as to what needs to be done to strengthen resilience. In this regard, the extensive norms maintained by the Hardiness Institute, are used to evaluate the scores of individuals taking the test. The most resilient pattern involves relatively high scores on hardy attitudes, hardy coping, hardy interactions, and hardy self-care, especially if the stress and strain scores that reflect ongoing experiences are also high. The most vulnerable pattern includes low scores on one or more of the hardy attitudes, coping, interactions, and self-care, and relatively high scores on stress, strain, and regressive coping. Needless to say, there are also mixed patterns. The HardiSurvey III-R, which is typically used in consulting or counseling work (though it can also be taken by individuals interested in their own patterns), is available on line at www.Hardiness

The Development and Effectiveness of Hardiness Assessment


5 10



Regressive Coping





Work Support

Social Support

Vulnerability to

Change Factors

Personal Effectiveness

Overall Personal Effectiveness

Pe rc en til e Ran ks

15 20 25 30 35 40

45 50 55 60

65 70 75 80

85 90 95

e Ran ks 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
e Ran ks 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
e Ran ks 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
e Ran ks 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
e Ran ks 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
e Ran ks 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
e Ran ks 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
e Ran ks 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75

Fig. 4.1

Your personalized HardiSurveyIII-R™ score summary

As an example, Fig. 4.1 shows the graph from the report of a person who has completed the HardiSurvey III-R. As you can see from the percentile scores (which are based on our normative base), this person has stress, strain, and regres- sive coping scores that are higher than the norms. This indicates a stressful envi- ronment, which may sometimes be reacted to with denial and avoidance. But, the person’s hardy attitudes, hardy coping, and hardy work and family social support scores are considerably higher than the norms, indicating considerable involve- ment in turning stresses to developmental advantage. Understandably, this pat- tern leads to a stress effectiveness score that is very high as to the norms, and also much higher than the person’s own overall vulnerability score. All in all, the over- all score shows that this person is handling the stressful environment quite well, and growing and developing in the process.

The Initial Development of Hardiness Training

There is now also a well-delineated, and empirically validated procedure for train- ing hardiness (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004). This training effort began at Illinois Bell Telephone, in the years following the traumatic deregulation of the telephone industry (Maddi et al. 1998). As the upheaval further and further undermined the performance and health of managers, the decision-makers at the company came to us for help. They were so pleased with our valuable research efforts, but hoped that we could somehow participate in helping managers survive and thrive in the new, competitive business environment into which they had been thrust.



Hardiness Assessment and Training

We arranged a course schedule that involved 12 once-a-week meetings for doing hardiness training exercises that we put together through our ongoing con- ceptualization of what leads to resilience under stress (Maddi 1987). The course was made available to Illinois Bell Telephone managers on a voluntary basis. Each course was limited to 20 managers, so that they and the trainer would have a chance to interact. Our general conceptualization was to put the managers through exercises that involved hardy (problem-solving) coping, and to then have them use the feedback they obtained from carrying out these exercises to deepen their hardy attitudes. Thus, they were not only learning how to take steps to turn their stressful circumstances to their advantage, but also deepening their courage and motivation to do this hard work, when the encouragement of the trainer was no longer availa- ble to them. Specifically, we would present the exercises in class, and then instruct the course members to carry out the exercises in their own lives, during the week in between sessions. In each session, class members would share with each other and the trainer how things had gone for them during their week of trying the exer- cises out in their living.

The First Hardy Coping Step is Situational Reconstruction

In the first session, class members were introduced to each other and the trainer, and informed of the efforts they would be using throughout the course and there- after, in the attempt to turn stressful circumstances to their advantage. Their homework assignment in the following week was to make a list of the stressful circumstances they were currently experiencing, that they had not yet resolved. In the second session, they began to learn about the first mental step in hardy coping, which is called Situational Reconstruction (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004). This involves each of them selecting a stressful circumstance from their list, and thinking about it various ways. Specifically, they tried to imagine how the stressor could actually become worse, and also, how it could become better. Whatever would make it worse or better is up to them, as that involves their view of what makes sense in their lives. Once having determined what would make the stressor better or worse, they were encouraged to make up stories about how the better and worse versions would actually happen. Once having done this, they are asked to come up with what they could actually do that would decrease the likelihood of the stressor getting worse, and increase the likelihood of it getting better. If the trainee goes through these steps of Situational Reconstruction effectively, this is called the first scenario, which prepares him/her for constructing an Action Plan that can turn the stressor to advantage. In working on Situational Reconstruction, James provided a good example of this first scenario. Like all managers at Illinois Bell Telephone, he was over- whelmed by the disruptions and unpredictability produced by the federal deregu- lation of the telephone industry. But, this did not stop him from working through Situational Reconstruction. In this, James realized that things could be even worse

The First Hardy Coping Step is Situational Reconstruction


by his losing his job, and even better by his earning a central role in the newly- evolving company. He also realized that he could help his and the new company’s situation to improve by taking an active role in trying to figure out what is needed to be done in order for the organization to not only survive, but also to take a cen- tral role in the new telecommunications industry. He realized that, in order to do this, he would have to keep an open mind about possible developments, keep talk- ing to peers, and supervisors about this, and try to learn from this process. Soon, in this process, he was ready to come up with a specific Action Plan, and carry it out.

The Second Hardy Coping Step is Focusing

But, trainees sometimes cannot navigate the steps of Situational Reconstruction effectively. They get stuck, rather than come up with lots of good ideas of what can be done. One frequent reason for this is that delving into the stressful circum- stance arouses painful emotions that the trainee defends against. This defensive attempt to avoid the negative feelings may well have a stifling effect on imagina- tion. And, without your imagination working, you will get stuck, rather than come up with routes to solution of the problem. After all, routes to solution of stressors require that you have the courage to see the problem clearly, and figure out what needs to be done. So, when trainees get stuck doing Situational Reconstruction, they are encour- aged to try the second step in Hardy Coping, which is Focusing (Gendlin 1978; Khoshaba and Maddi 2004). This involves trying to see beyond your defensive protection efforts, realize your true emotional state, and take this insight into account in trying to come up with an Action Plan. In doing this, you direct your attention to the messages your body is sending you, when you consider the stress- ful circumstance. Examples of such messages are rapid heart beating, rumbling stomach, neck and shoulder aches, and muscle tension. In trying to make sense out of these bodily symptoms, you may well come up with a new way of thinking about the stressful circumstance, which we call an emotionally-based insight. If you get such an insight, you go back to trying Situational Reconstruction again, with the inclusion of the insights based on Focusing, and see if this gets you unstuck, so that you can now come up with an Action Plan. We call this the second scenario in hardy coping. Arthur’s efforts at hardy coping represent a good example of this sec- ond scenario. A Latino immigrant, he was so pleased when he became a man- ager at Illinois Bell. His increase in salary led him to buy his first home, where he believed he and his family would feel happy and secure. The house was on the edge of a park in the middle of Chicago, and he could afford it because the housing market was declining, as wealthy people were tending to move to the suburbs, to avoid the increasing influx of poor immigrants in the city. Imagine how he felt when he finished work and went home to the new house for the first time, and found a group of gang members hanging out on his front lawn. His



Hardiness Assessment and Training

enthusiasm changed to anger, as he rushed into the house to avoid the intruders and check on the well-being of his family. Needless to say, this experience with the gang members was his stressful cir- cumstance. When he tried to work on it with Situational Reconstruction, he kept getting stuck, as his anger got in the way of his thinking broadly and imagina- tively. He could not imagine how things could possibly get worse. And, the only way he could think of trying to make things better was by killing the gang mem- bers, which, of course, would also make things worse when he got arrested. He could not imagine various versions of the situation, and how some might lead to better solutions than others. The first scenario was not working. So, we encouraged him to try Focusing. Although it was difficult for him to lis- ten to the messages his body was giving him, he finally was able to focus enough so that he came up with an emotionally based insight. That insight was that, behind his anger, was tremendous fear. He had defended against the fear because he liked to see himself as a tough person, who had overcome disadvantages. When he took the insight about fear back to efforts with Situational Reconstruction, he realized that acting on his anger would make things worse, whereas taking his fear seri- ously could help him find some way of improving things for himself and his fam- ily, by helping the gang members assimilate into society, so that they too would be better off. This successful second scenario led him toward an Action Plan.

The Third Hardy Coping Step is Compensatory Self-Improvement

Sometimes, in attempting to resolve a stressful circumstance, trainees get stuck trying Situational Reconstruction, and get no emotionally based insight when they try Focusing. They are then permitted, through these unsuccessful efforts to cope, to conclude that the stressful circumstance they are experiencing is given (i.e., something they cannot change with their current capabilities). This leads them to the third scenario in hardy coping, which involves the technique of Compensatory Self-Improvement (Maddi 1987). In this, the trainee’s effort shifts to finding another stressful circumstance that in his/her view is related to the one that can- not be resolved, and work on that other circumstance instead. The overall view in this is that the best a person can ask is to be working on the stresses that can be resolved, and accepting the others that were not workable. This is what we call the third scenario, in the attempt to find a workable Action Plan. Evelyn’s efforts provide a good example of this third scenario. Her stressful cir- cumstance was that her husband had come home one day and announced that he thought he had fallen in love with another woman, and did not know what to do. He was not ready to separate from Evelyn, as he thought he also still loved her. But, the other woman was constantly on his mind. When she tried Situational Reconstruction, Evelyn concluded that things could be worse (if he left her), and better (if he came to love her more than the other woman), and her Action Plan involved doing everything

The Third Hardy Coping Step is Compensatory Self-Improvement


she could to make their lives together more intimate and satisfying. To try to get over their having drifted apart, she tried her best to make their lives together more close. She cooked wonderful meals, arranged for them to spend more time together doing things that could bring them closer. She kept this up for months, but by then, she was exhausted and what she had tried did not work. He still felt love for the other woman, and decided to separate from Evelyn, so that he could see whether the other woman was right for him. At that point, Evelyn felt she could do nothing more about the relationship, and engaged in Compensatory Self-Improvement instead. She chose to try to get over her phobia of skiing, which had existed her whole life. Whenever she got up on the slope, her heart would beat rapidly, she would shake, and have to back off. Indeed, her husband was an inveterate skier, and for years, he and she would go on skiing weekends. He would spend the day on the slopes, and she would be back in the hotel watching TV. In the evenings, when he and other skiers would be sharing their experiences on the slopes, she had nothing to say. So, Evelyn put together an Action Plan to overcome her phobia.

The Previous Steps Lead to Formulating and Carrying out an Action Plan

Whether the trainee is involved in the first, second, or third scenario of the mental work of hardy coping, he/she is led to using what has been learned to formulate an Action Plan which could help in resolving the stressful circumstance. Action Plans are comprised of an overall goal, and the instrumental steps that need to be taken to reach the goal (Maddi 1987). In addition, the order in which the instru- mental steps need to be taken should also be indicated. As the Action Plan is car- ried out, the trainee needs to use the feedback obtained in this process to deepen the hardy attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge (Maddi 1987). In this, when the support given by the trainer is over, the trainee’s deepened hardy atti- tudes will give the courage and motivation for him/her to continue to do the hard work of hardy coping. The three sources of feedback involved are seeing (1) how your efforts have helped, (2) how others have observed and supported your efforts, and (3) what the effect on resolving the stressor has been. What follows are sum- maries of how James, Arthur, and Evelyn carried out Action Plans, and deepened their hardy attitudes in the process. James’s Action Plan involved the goal of becoming considered a central person in the attempt of Illinois Bell Telephone to be a successful company in the new tel- ecommunications industry. One instrumental step toward this goal involved meet- ing with his supervisor, and indicating that he would try to take an active approach to help the company develop by becoming competitive. He started meeting with fellow managers, to discuss with them what could be done to turn the deregula- tion to their advantage. In addition, he searched for and read articles and books that were relevant. When he would come up with relevant ideas as to what should



Hardiness Assessment and Training

be done, he would share them with his fellow managers and supervisors, listening carefully to their feedback, and seeing where that led. Soon, the others saw him as someone to turn to, and as a stimulus to what is needed to be done. Before long, he became a decision-maker in the company. In that process, he used the feed- back he obtained from evaluating himself, and from what his fellow managers and supervisors thought of him and his ideas, as a basis for further building his hardy attitudes. Arthur’s Action Plan involved minimizing the conflict between the local gang members and him and his family. In this, the overall goal was to make it possible for him and his family to feel secure and fulfilled in their new home. As you know, Arthur had come to realize that this process would involve his helping the gang members to assimilate better with his family and those of other neighbors in the community. The instrumental steps leading to this involved Arthur meeting with other neighbors who were worried about the gang activities, and forming a com- munity organization, so that they could work together to implement solutions. One concrete step in this process was for the neighbors to contribute money, so that they could rent a local, empty store, and turn it over to the gang members as a meeting place. This got them off the streets and Arthur’s front lawn. Another concrete step involved some of the neighbors becoming mentors for the gang members, to help them understand how their lives would improve by engaging in more constructive interactions with members of the community. Also, involved here was trying to convince the gang members that staying in, and working hard at school would lead them to a better life. Once this approach continued long enough to convince the gang members that the neighbors not only cared about them, but knew how to help them, the entire neighborhood began to improve dramatically. The gang members and the neighbors began to believe in each other, and work to help each other. When last I heard from Arthur, he was being invited by other communities in the city to give talks on how he and his community organization had helped turn poor immigrants into constructive citizens. Needless to say, Arthur had lots of feedback on his efforts that deepened his hardy attitudes, and helped him to recog- nize that anger was not the solution to his stressful circumstance. The goal of Evelyn’s Action Plan was to overcome her skiing phobia. An instrumental step in the process involved her enrolling in a skiing class, and mak- ing sure that the teacher knew about her phobia. However difficult the class was for her, she kept going. At one point, she even felt embarrassed, as the teacher of the class, and the other class members, were young enough to be her children. But, as she persisted, she realized that the teacher and other students liked help- ing “mom” with her problem. They were so excited and supportive, whenever she made some progress. And, she began to realize through this progress, that she could actually do what she had never thought was possible. Not only was she actually able to ski, but the feedback this involved from the others and herself deepened her hardy attitudes. Indeed, she began to be able to ski with less fear, and even went on skiing weekends without her husband. Needless to say, he began to see her as more attractive, and she apologized to him for not having tried to overcome the phobia sooner.

The Effectiveness of the Initial Form of Hardiness Training


The Effectiveness of the Initial Form of Hardiness Training

A systematic research study (Maddi 1987) corroborated these individual signs. In

particular, a group of IBT managers who applied for and went through hardiness training following the industry upheaval were evaluated for their hardiness and for several signs of performance and health, both during and following the train-

ing. This experimental group was compared to a control group, which consisted

of demographically similar managers who had applied for the hardiness training,

but could not be trained immediately, and were put on a waiting list. The control group managers were tested in the same ways and at the same times as were those

in the experimental group.

The results of this study were quite consistent with conceptual expectations. From the beginning to the end of training, the experimental group showed a much

larger increase in hardiness attitudes and hardy coping than did the control group. Further, at the end of training, the experimental group showed less subjectively experienced stress and strain, and a greater degree of learning and fulfillment on the job, than did the control group. There were also some more objective measures used in this study, and the results of them supported the self-report indices already mentioned. In particular, the job evaluations of the managers after the training period was completed, were higher in the experimental group than were those of the control group. Important

in this is that the supervisors making the job evaluations did not know that the

experimental and control group managers were undergoing hardiness training or waiting for it. In addition, the medical evaluations of the managers in this study showed that, following the hardiness training period, the experimental group was in better shape than the control group. In particular, the experimental group showed fewer managers having high blood pressure levels following the training than was true of the control group. This study also involved retesting the participants 6 months after the end of har- diness training (which was still before the control group was actually offered the training). The differences in results between the experimental and control groups already mentioned continued through this 6 month period. Overall, it appears that the training of hardy coping and hardy attitudes was effective in this study.

The Further Development of the HardiTraining Program

Over the years since the Illinois Bell longitudinal study, the hardiness train- ing program has been expanded to include additional components. In particular, there is now also training for interacting with others in a socially supportive way, and engaging in beneficial self-care. My colleague, Deborah Khoshaba, has been



Hardiness Assessment and Training

instrumental in this development of a more complete training program (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004). The hardy social support component involves exercises that help the trainees determine which, if any, of their interactions with significant others are conflict- ful. The relationships that are conflictful are the subject matter of the training, which involves techniques for resolving the conflicts interactively, rather than let- ting them persist, or avoiding them. Important here is the practice of effective lis- tening, effective communicating, and using these activities to replace the conflict with a mutual pattern of giving and getting assistance and encouragement in liv- ing (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004). As in hardy coping, the trainee is taught how to use the feedback obtained from socially supportive interactions to deepen his/her hardy attitudes. Case study examples of this training component show that trainees can greatly transform conflictful relationships into ones that deepen their enjoy- ment of, and commitment to relationships with others. The beneficial self-care component (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004) involves exer- cises that help the trainee to recognize the importance of keeping bodily arousal levels from becoming either too high (which undermines coping efforts), or too low (which involves insufficient energy), and remaining physically healthy in that process. One component of beneficial self-care training involves using relaxation techniques (such as meditation, and deep breathing), when arousal gets too high. Another training component involves recognizing, but not giving into wishes to eat too sweet and fatty foods, as stresses mount. In this, the trainee learns that his/ her body can become accustomed to healthy food and drink, even if it does not seem satisfying at first. The third training component involves learning the value of the level of physical exercise that is consistent with keeping up one’s energy, without overdoing things. There are many case study examples of the value of this hardiness training component. As with the other components, the trainee is taught how to use the feedback obtained through beneficial self-care to deepen the hardy attitudes.

The Effectiveness of the HardiTraining Program

The expanded version of the training program is now called HardiTraining, and comprises a comprehensive approach to deepening hardy attitudes and skills so as to increase the likelihood of turning stressful circumstances from potential disas- ters into growth opportunities instead. There is a detailed workbook that includes provocative examples of both positive and negative ways of dealing with stresses, detailed exercises to promote the positive ways, and checkpoints for determining one’s progress (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004). This workbook is intended for the trainees to use with the supervision of a Certified Hardiness Trainer. The HardiTraining program is comprehensive, involving not only hardy attitudes, but also hardy coping, social support, relaxation, nutrition, and exercise. The latter five are often called the fingers of the hand, with hardy attitudes being

The Effectiveness of the HardiTraining Program


the palm of the hand. The hardiness training components all work together, form- ing an effective “hand”, as it were. But, it is also true that the HardiTraining pro- gram is designed to be flexible. Any combination of, or all of the hardy skills may be included, as long as there remains emphasis on the feedback from efforts that will build the hardy attitudes. A frequent guide as to whether the entire training program is needed, or only certain parts of it will do, is the results of the pro- spective trainee’s HardiSurvey III-R (available at In this regard, it is valuable to administer the HardiSurvey III-R before HardiTraining begins. In general, HardiTraining has a preventative effect, by giving trainees the strength and conviction to resolve stresses, and turn what is learned to advantage. Important in this is so-called tertiary prevention, which is for people whose health or performance is already compromised. For them, HardiTraining will help them not to be further undermined, and give them a greater likelihood of improving. Included here may be people who are suffering from degenerative diseases (e.g., heart disease, cancer), and law-breakers who need rehabilitation. HardiTraining is also relevant to secondary prevention, where people are at risk of, but have not yet undergone health or performance decrements. This includes people in espe- cially risky and stressful professions (e.g., military personnel on combat or peace- keeping missions, police officers, and firefighters), or people whose work or private lives are especially disrupted (because of such things as divorces, or deaths in the family, or company divestitures, or mergers). The HardiTraining done at Illinois Bell Telephone following the deregulation of the telephone industry is a good example of secondary prevention. In our tumultuous times, however, it is essential that HardiTraining also be applied in primary prevention, where the peo- ple involved have not yet encountered the level of stresses that threaten to under- mine them, but are likely to in the future. For example, the training should include youngsters in school, so that they be adequately prepared in adulthood to turn the rising tide of disruptive changes into opportunities rather than let them become disasters. By now, two empirical studies have been done on the effectiveness of the more complete HardiTraining approach. Both studies involved college students, who took HardiTraining as a regular credit course. In both studies, the textbook involved was the HardiTraining workbook (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004), and the teachers were Certified Hardiness Trainers. The first study (Maddi et al. 2002) involved high-risk students, who had just entered a community college. They were considered high-risk because they were either recent immigrants, below the poverty level, from broken families, or some combination of these factors. So, the study fits into the category of secondary prevention. Each of two Certified Hardiness Trainers taught the HardiTraining courses, with enrollments of 20 students each. The students were tested with the HardiSurvey III-R (Maddi and Khoshaba 2001), both at the beginning and end of the training. The control goup was comprised of high-risk students who took similarly-sized, semester courses emphasizing other facilitative procedures, such as time-management and study skills. Students in the control group were



Hardiness Assessment and Training

also tested with the HardiSurvey III-R at the beginning and end of the course. Results of this first study showed that, by comparison with the control course, the HardiTraining course led to greater increases in hardy attitudes and skills, and to higher grade-point-average (GPA) 6 months later. The second study (Maddi et al. 2009) involved undergraduate students at a large college who took the HardiTraining as a regular credit, quarter-long course. Also, the teachers of this course were also Certified Hardiness Trainers, and the textbook was also the HardiTraining workbook. Each of the courses forming the experimental group sample were enrolled in by somewhat more than 100 students. The control group involved demographically similar students who took other courses taught by the same teachers. In both the experimental and control groups, the HardiSurvey III-R was administered at the beginning and end of the relevant course, and GPAs at graduation were obtained for the students as well. Although a few of the students in this study were high-risk, most were not. So, the study falls in the category of primary prevention. This was a carefully controlled study. There were no differences between the experimental and control groups in either GPA or hardy attitudes and skills before the class began. At the end of the class, the experimental group (which had taken HardiTraining) was higher in hardy attitudes and skills, and lower in experienced stress and strain, than was the control group. Then, 6–24 months later, at gradu- ation, the students who had taken HardiTraining showed higher GPAs than did those who had taken some other course taught by the same teacher. The results of these two studies indicate that HardiTraining is effective in improving performance in the ongoingly stressful circumstances of col- lege life. What is needed now in systematically evaluating the effectiveness of HardiTraining are additional studies involving other participants than college stu- dents, and other indices of performance and health.

Becoming a Certified Hardiness Trainer

As indicated earlier, it is possible for individuals to undergo HardiTraining through using the HardiTraining workbook, with the supervision of a Certified Hardiness Trainer. This approach is especially useful for groups of trainees work- ing together, which often happens when HardiTraining is done in organizations. To facilitate this latter approach, the Hardiness Institute has a well-developed Train-the-Trainer Program. Typically, professionals who qualify for this pro- gram have backgrounds and experience in psychology, social work, nursing, teaching, or human resources functioning. These professionals go through a two-step process in becoming Certified Hardiness Trainers. The first step is participation of prospective trainers in an intensive, 3 day group session led by one or more Certified Hardiness Trainers, this training utilizes the HardiTraining workbook and other materials, and emphasizes what it is like to train others in how to increase in hardiness. Important in this process are definitive examples of training strengths and weaknesses.

Becoming a Certified Hardiness Trainer


Once this first step has been completed successfully by the prospective trainers, the second step begins. This second step involves the prospective trainer employing what has been learned with whatever small groups of trainees are available to him/ her through consulting or human resources work. In this process, the prospective trainer remains in close contact with the Certified Hardiness Trainer who helped put him/her through the first step. This contact involves obtaining feedback as to how the prospective trainer can continue to improve. The interaction can occur in person, by phone or email, or both. Typically, this second step takes 4–6 months, depending on how often the prospective trainer engages in trying to apply what has been learned to the hardiness levels of others. Once this second step has been suc- cessfully completed, the prospective trainer becomes a Certified Hardiness Trainer. From this point on, the Hardiness Institute remains in contact with the Certified Hardiness Trainer, in order to make available any ongoing changes in the HardiTraining program, and continue to help with any problems that may arise. At the present time, there are Certified Hardiness Trainers in various cities in the U.S. and around the world.


Funk, S. C. (1992). Hardiness: A review of theory and research. Health Psychology, 11, 335–345. Gendlin, E. (1978). Focusing (2nd Ed.). New York: Bantam. Hull, J. G., Van Treuren, R. R., & Virnelli, S. (1987). Hardiness and health: A critique and alter- native approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 518–530. Khoshaba, D. M., & Maddi, S. R. (2004). HardiTraining: Managing stressful change (5th ed.). Irvine: Hardiness Institute. Maddi, S. R. (1987). Hardiness training at Illinois bell telephone. In J. P. Opatz (Ed.), Health promotion evaluation. Stevens Point: National Wellness Institute. Maddi, S.R. (2002). The story of hardiness: Twenty years of theorizing, research, and practice. Consulting Psychology Journal, 54, (3), 173–185. Maddi, S. R., Kahn, S., & Maddi, K. L. (1998). The effectiveness of hardiness training. Consulting Psychology Journal, 50, 78–86. Maddi, S. R., & Khoshaba, D. M. (2001). HardiSurvey III-R: Test development and internet instruction manual. Irvine: Hardiness Institute. Maddi, S. R., & Kobasa, S. C. (1984). The hardy executive: Health under stress. Homewood:

Dow Jones-Irwin. Maddi, S. R., Khoshaba, D. M., Jensen, K., Carter, E., Lu, J., & Harvey, R. H. (2002). Hardiness training for high-risk undergraduates. NACADA Journal, 22, 45–55. Maddi, S. R., Harvey, R. H., Khoshaba, D. M., Lu, J. H., Persico, M., & Brow, M. (2006). The personality construct of hardiness, III: Relationships with repression, innovativeness, authori- tarianism, and performance. Journal of Personality, 74, 575–598. Maddi, S.R., Harvey, R.H., Khoshaba, F.M., & Resurreccion, N. (2009). Hardiness training facil- itates performance in college. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 566–577. Sinclair, R. R., & Tetrick, L. E. (2000). Implications of item wording for hardiness structure, relation with neuroticism, and stress buffering. Journal of Research in Personality, 34, 1–25.

Chapter 5

Raising Hardy Children

Abstract The nature of the interaction between parents and their young is very important, as hardiness has been shown to be learned. As to the hardy attitudes, socially supportive interactions lead to a sense of commitment, early environments permitting mastery lead to a sense of control, and ongoing changes construed as richness of experience lead to a sense of challenge. As to the hardy strategies of action, an emphasis on recognizing and solving problems leads to hardy coping, an emphasis on supportive interactions leads to hardy social support, and an emphasis on what one needs leads to hardy self-care. In all this, parents need to admire, respect, and love their young.

Keywords  Parent/child interactions  •  Supportive interactions  •  Moderately  difficult tasks  •  Richness through changes  •  Problem-solving  •  Supportive  relationships  •  Self-care  •  Admiration  •  Respect  •  Love

The expanding evidence that the hardiness pattern of attitudes and skills enhances performance and health under stress certainly indicates the impor- tance of trying to encourage this pattern in youngsters (Maddi 2002). Although there is no evidence to indicate whether hardiness is inherited, there is certainly research indicating that hardiness can be increased through relevant training. As covered in the previous chapter, it has been shown that HardiTraining increases not only hardiness, but also performance and health, in college students. This chapter covers conceptualization of how parents can increase the hardiness of their children. Early in their lives, children have little understanding of themselves and their world, but they do have needs and capabilities that push for expression. Children depend on others for things such as food, water, security, and love. But, there may also be individual differences in how these needs are approached. One child may have the capability for vigorous, frequent muscular actions, and for social extro- version, whereas another may tend toward self-reflection, inactivity, and social introversion. A third child may be especially sensitive, empathic, and emotionally expressive. In any event, needs and capabilities jointly define the child’s input to interaction with parents.



Raising Hardy Children

To be sure, parents also have needs and capabilities, and these get expressed in individual ways in their interactions with their children. But, parents have lived long enough to have views about themselves, the world, and child rearing, and their beliefs also influence how they interact. In all this, the nature of the interac- tions children have with their parents leads them, over time, to develop general viewpoints  or  dispositions  toward  themselves  and  their  environments.  Some  of  these dispositions help to develop, whereas others stifle hardiness.

The Hardy Attitudes

As indicated earlier, the 3Cs of hardy attitudes are commitment, control, and challenge. Together, these 3Cs provide the existential courage and motivation to carry out the hardy strategies of problem-solving coping, socially supportive interactions, and beneficial self-care (Maddi 1994, 1998). It is important, therefore, to consider how the 3Cs may be learned in the interactions youngsters have with their parents and mentors.

Supportive Early Interactions Build the Hardy Attitude of Commitment

Commitment is the component of hardy attitudes that involves experienc- ing one’s environment and self as interesting, worthwhile, and satisfying, rather than dull, meaningless, and frustrating. A strong sense of commitment in adult- hood may well result from the overall degree to which the interactions children had with their parents were supportive, in the sense of providing encouragement and acceptance (Maddi 2002). When parents meet their children’s efforts to satisfy their needs by interacting with them in a manner showing approval, interest, and encouragement, the children feel supported and, on this basis, come to view self and world as interesting and worthwhile. But, if parents are generally neglectful, or hostile and disapproving toward their children’s expression of needs and poten- tialities, the children come to view the world as empty and worthless. What is important in the development of commitment is the overall degree of parental sup- port, rather than just any one or two interactions that were traumatic or wonderful. There are many reasons why parents might be consistently unsupportive of their children. For example, parents might be too wrapped up in their work lives away from the family, or be continually resentful because they did not want the burden that children bring. Another common problem is that parents themselves may be so overwhelmed that they slip into becoming neglectful and ungiving to others. Nor can it help if parents have come to recognize that they do not love each other. In contrast, parents who find family interactions fulfilling, who are managing to cope with their own lives, and who appreciate rather than resent their children, are much more likely to be supportive of them.

Supportive Early Interactions Build the Hardy Attitude of Commitment


There is a particularly damaging (though subtle) way in which parents can be unsupportive, and thereby undermining of their child’s sense of commitment to self and world. This occurs when parents impose on their children preconceived notions of what is acceptable and admirable despite the fact that these notions are at vari- ance with the natural expressions of the child’s capabilities and needs. A female child who is naturally very physical may be regarded by her parent as unladylike and

be supported only for signs of emotional sensitivity and imaginativeness. Similarly, 

a naturally sensitive and imaginative male child may be considered unmanly and be

supported only when he shows signs of physical prowess and aggression. In this way, children may be forced to conform to parental expectations rather than express their capabilities vigorously. The result is a developing person who appears outwardly adjusted but carries around a nagging, restless sense that some- thing important is missing, and that life as currently lived is not enough. To avoid this sense of alienation (rather than commitment) in their offspring, parents need to support them, not out of rigid preconceptions of what will be best for them, but rather out of respect for the importance of the individuality that will result from natural expression of a child’s capabilities and interests.

Early Environments Permitting Mastery Build the Hardy Attitude of Control

Why do some people believe that, and act as if, they can influence ongoing events, whereas others passively succumb to being the victims of circumstances? These differences in the hardy attitude of control may reflect the overall proportion of mastery, as opposed to failure experiences, in early life. As they grow older, chil- dren’s developing physical and mental capabilities lead them to try to accomplish things. Their own needs and abilities define many competing goals for them to strive toward. When children succeed, they have a sense of mastery—and when they fail, a sense of failure. Arenas for mastery or failure may include cleaning and dressing oneself, finding one’s way outside the home, interacting with others, getting school work done, riding a bicycle, and so forth. As they develop, it is best for children when the tasks they encounter are just

a bit more difficult than what they already know well enough to easily perform.

If the task is too easy, succeeding at it will not bring a sense of accomplishment or mastery. Conversely, if the task is too hard, the child is likely to fail and feel powerless. What builds a sense of control is for the child’s interaction with the environment to involve predominantly tasks than can be mastered because they are moderate in difficulty (McClelland 1958). If that is so, children will sense that they are able to influence things, and will learn a willingness to act on that sense. But, if the largest proportion of the child’s tasks are so hard as to provoke failure, powerlessness will be learned instead. When children encounter too many hard tasks, it is often because their parents are subtly competing with them. Out of resentment and an investment in exercising



Raising Hardy Children

power over children, some parents may actually impose tasks of such difficulty on their children that their failure is common. Then the child can be chastised for not having tried hard enough, thus providing what appears as a socially acceptable basis for punishment and rejection. If children encounter, instead, many tasks that are too easy, it usually means that parents are being overprotective. Although there is less parental resentment in this approach, it is actually just another way for parents to exercise power over their children. The assumption is that children are too weak and incapable to do anything on their own, so they need the parent’s superior competence. However, parents who are genuinely interested in their children feeling and acting in an independently competent fashion make the effort to ensure that the child’s tasks are generally of moderate difficulty, and are appreciative of the youngster’s efforts.

Ongoing Changes Construed as Richness Build the Hardy Attitude of Challenge

Why do some people expect life changes to be frequent and stimulating, whereas others expect stability and regard change as nothing more than a disruption of security? This difference in the hardy attitude of challenge reflects the degree to which a person’s early environment changed—and whether those changes were regarded as richness or as chaos. An early life environment may have many large, obvious changes (e.g., many trips to foreign countries, many changes in residence, and many different visitors to the home). But, more subtle changes (e.g., varying tasks to perform around the home, interacting with parents and siblings who talk and act in differing ways because they are in a vigorous developmental process themselves, and having many hobbies) are perhaps even more important. Neither obvious nor subtle changes are by themselves sufficient to build the hardy attitude of challenge. In fact, children may be overwhelmed by continual change unless they are helped to see it as richness rather than chaos. Parents must themselves see changes as interesting and developmentally valuable so that they can communicate this to their children. In the communication, parents must encourage their children to use their mental capabilities to conceive the challenges as signs of richness and possibility. In contrast, parents who themselves are dis- rupted by changes, and communicate this, are understandably unable to help their children learn to feel challenged rather than threatened. It is especially important for parents to help their children build the attitude of challenge because, as indicated in Chap. 3, life is by its nature a stressful phenome- non. Each stage in a person’s development, from birth to old age, involves not only changes but also requirements for personal change and growth. And the stresses of this developmental process can be exacerbated by imposed megatrends of change, such as economic downturns, wars, and dramatic technological advances. It is therefore useful to consider some examples of how parents may help their children by turning them on to the richness, rather than threats, of experiential changes. For example, suppose your child makes a drawing of a human face in

Ongoing Changes Construed as Richness Build the Hardy Attitude of Challenge


which although the nose and mouth are within the face, the eyes are off to the side of the sheet. Many parents would see their task as making sure their child knows  he/she made a mistake that needs to be corrected. But, the way of encouraging richness of experience might involve reacting positively, such as “Wow… usually the  eyes  are  within  the  head,  but  you  wanted  to  put  them  outside.  Maybe  that  means something, like that person just saw something that was so exciting that it’s almost as if his eyes popped out of his head”. If you take that tack, you encour- age your child to recognize that, especially in art work, there does not need to be a literal truth, and that metaphors may be important. Needless to say, metaphoric and intuitive thinking is important not only in art, but in life in general. More  generally,  parents  need  to  encourage  richness  of  experience  by   helping  their children recognize that things that happen often have more than just the obvious meaning. Indeed, using your thinking and intuition may lead to meanings that were not obvious at first. This is a complex, ongoing effort to figure things out that is an important part of living. This process needs to be emphasized by parents as interesting and exciting, rather than disruptive and painful. This process of seeing the richness of experience needs to continue in the rela- tionship between parents and their offspring as the youngsters get old enough to have experiences outside of the home into which they were born. For example, sup- pose your child comes back from school and shares with you that there is another student in his/her class who is appreciated by the teachers but vilified by many of the other students. To encourage experiential richness, it would not be enough for you to just emphasize how that student must be doing what is needed in order to learn. There may indeed be some truth to this assumption, but it is not enough in the process of helping your youngster to recognize that experiences have many aspects, rather than only one meaning. Instead, you need to draw out lots of aspects of meaning in this situation, by the questions you ask your youngster, and the sug- gestions you make. How does the student approved of by the teachers feel about being rejected by the others? Does that student want nothing to do with the others, or is he/she in pain over the rejection? Are the other students disgusted with the approved student, or do they wish they too were approved of? Has there been any attempt on the part of the students to get together, and cooperate, or not? How does your own youngster react to all of this, and what steps has, or can he/she take, in the attempt to help everyone get along with each other? You should emphasize that there are lots of meanings in this situation, whether or not they fit together easily.

The Hardy Strategies

In this overall process of encouraging your youngsters to develop the hardy attitudes, it is also important to help them learn the hardy action patterns of problem-solving (rather than avoidance) coping, socially supportive (rather than conflictful) interactions with others, and beneficial (rather than indulgent) self-care. What points youngsters in the direction of hardy action-patterns, or strategies, is quite consistent with what helps them develop the hardy attitudes.



Raising Hardy Children

Parents Need to Emphasize Problem-Solving Coping

In the process of growing up, there are ongoing changes continually imposed on youngsters. It may seem as if the easiest way of coping with these disruptive changes is by denying and avoiding them. But, if this is a regular pattern of behavior, it will stultify psycho-social development and growth. What is needed instead is a process of recognizing problems, and solving them, so that you can increase your learning and sense of fulfillment. Certainly, youngsters who have developed the hardy attitudes will have the courage and motivation that makes them more likely to engage in problem-solving coping. But, parents can aid their youngsters to develop the hardy attitudes by their recognizing how to do problem-solving coping. The first step in this process is for there to be sufficient dialogue between the youngster and the parent for stressful circumstances to be recognized. For each stressful circumstance, the parent needs to be supportive of the youngster, and encourage dialogue about what might be done that could stop the stressor from getting worse, while increasing the likeli- hood that it will get better. Once the youngster has come up with such an action plan, the parent needs to support him/her in the difficult process of carrying it out. The aim in this is not to just help the youngster feel better by denying and avoid- ing, but rather, to point him/her toward more comprehensive fulfillment by learning how to transform the stressor into advantageous growth. This helps the youngster not only to know how to resolve stressors, but also to recognize that living fully is a more complex, comprehensive phenomenon than just feeling good, no matter what. An example of a stressor might be if your male child keeps coming home cry- ing because the other boys in the neighborhood are always rejecting him. When you and he talk about what is happening, it becomes apparent that the other boys must have felt rejected by your son. After all, when your son walks home from school, he goes right past the other boys who are now playing stick ball on the street. He thinks he has to get home right away, so that you do not have to worry about him. He also thinks that he is not good enough at the sport to try to join in with the other kids. You try to encourage your son to participate with the other boys by indicating that you will not worry about him not coming right home from school, as long as you know where he is. You also encourage him to practice stick ball in your back yard. In this, you have him throw the ball back and forth with you, and you pitch the ball so that he can practice hitting it with the stick. Soon,  with your support, he is joining in with the other boys, and playing stick ball with them well enough to be happy with himself, and with their new acceptance of him. However constructive this kind of parent/child interaction is, there will be times when a certain stressor cannot be resolved, no matter how hard the effort to do so. These unresolvable stressors are givens, and must just be accepted without this undermining the youngster. Examples of givens, for some people, might be deter- mined by such unchangeable things as height, weight, sex, and age. If the ongoing process is problem-solving coping, the usual success of this will facilitate accept- ance and tolerance of the occasional stressors that are givens.

Parents Need to Emphasize Supportive Social Interactions


Parents Need to Emphasize Supportive Social Interactions

Needless to say, youngsters are almost always in the process of having to interact with others, whether these others are members of the family, peers and teachers

at school, or members of the community at large. When these interactions do not

go well, that is certainly stressful. Another important hardy strategy involves rec- ognizing conflicts with significant others, and taking actions to resolve these dif- ficulties. This approach is more fulfilling and developmentally valuable than is just letting the conflicts fester, or trying to avoid them in order to just feel better. There must be continual dialogue amongst parents and their youngsters, in order to improve the social support the youngsters are getting and giving in interactions with significant others. In this dialogue, parents need to help their youngsters recognize conflicts with others, and think through what to do in order to try to resolve the con-

flicts. An important step in resolving conflicts is to discuss them with the other person, not in the sense of blaming anyone, but rather in the sense that recognition is important

in resolution. Another step is suggesting how you and the other person may modify

your interactions so that the conflict is resolved. Once resolved, the conflict can be replaced with a mutual pattern of giving and getting assistance and encouragement in the difficult process of living well. Especially, if the person with whom you are in con- flict is a significant other (e.g., family member, schoolmate, teacher), efforts to replace conflicts with assistance and encouragement are valuable. And, of course, the conflict may be between the youngster and his/her parent or parents. In this context, it is all the more important for parents to help their young- sters by recognizing and admitting the conflict to them. It is important in this pro- cess not to just blame the youngster, but instead, to admit one’s own contribution, and encourage him/her to say what comes to their mind. The aim is to get all par- ties to agree on the importance of resolving the conflict without blaming the other person, and to replace it with mutual assistance and encouragement.

Parents Need to Emphasize Taking Care of Oneself

As if all this were not enough, there is also the importance of hardy self-care.

A typical part of denying and avoiding stressors, and letting interactional conflicts

fester, is the attempt to distract oneself by excessive and unhealthy eating, drinking, spending, gambling, watching TV, and being on the internet (Carmody et al. 2011; Maddi 2012). It is well known that these excesses and addictions can undermine

a person’s health, and also lead to destructive and unethical behaviors, and avoid- ance of growth-oriented functioning. And, at least some of these excesses can also decrease one’s life expectancy considerably. Parents need to help their youngsters take good care of themselves. One aspect

of what parents can do is to interact with their children in ways that enhance their



Raising Hardy Children

hardy attitudes. The courage and motivation this leads to will decrease the likeli- hood of the denial and avoidance efforts that can lead to excesses and addictions. Further, parents can also make sure that the food and drink served at home are healthy and moderate. Unfortunately, many parents feel that they and their children cannot  be  satisfied  by  food  that  is  only  moderate  in  fat  and  sugar.  Such  parents  may also involve themselves in drinking and smoking at home, in a manner that serves as a model for their youngsters. What needs to be taken into account in homes where this problem exists is that the human body gets used to anything you give it consistently. And, if what you give it is also healthy, you have accomplished your responsibility as parents, as well as helping yourselves. It is also important for parents to keep the dialogue going with their youngsters, in order to see if they are falling into unhealthy habits when they are not at home. If such unhealthy habits abound, that shows that the youngster’s hardy attitudes and strategies are insufficient. If such unhealthy patterns appear present, the parents should try to talk openly and supportively with their youngsters about the impor- tance of the family, of their staying healthy, and living long. In this process, the parents should not be punitive, but rather educational. As the youngsters get older, there are lots of books and articles that will help them understand the importance of relaxation exercises, sound nutrition, and useful physical exercise that are good

alternatives to unhealthy habits (e.g., Khoshaba and Maddi 2004).

In all this, Parents Need to Admire, Respect, and Love Their Young

Needless to say, parents have an important role to play in helping their young- sters live well and long, all the while growing and developing toward a fulfill- ing life. If parents could do it all by themselves, there would be no need of any other approaches. But, clearly, not only are some parents poor at enhancing the hardiness of their youngsters, but even those parents who are good at it have a decreasing role in the development of their children once they have begun going to school, and then reach adulthood. Clearly, many approaches that enhance hardi- ness need to be available in schools, work places, counseling and medical profes- sions, and the community at large. In trying to enhance the hardiness of their youngsters through the approaches emphasized here, parents need to admire, respect, and love their children through- out this difficult developmental process. It will not work for parents to insist that the youngster’s do exactly what the parents believe is best, and to vilify any dif- ferent behaviors. The parents must admire and help their young to find their own solutions to life’s difficulties, as long as those solutions express hardy atti- tudes and strategies. Even with this, it must be accepted that there will be fail- ures from time to time, and that these failures can be learned from. The results of the research study mentioned in Chap. 3  (Khoshaba  and  Maddi  1999) are supportive of this conceptualization. In that study, Illinois Bell managers were

In all this, Parents Need to Admire, Respect, and Love Their Young


studied extensively for 6 years before the catastrophic federal deregulation of the telephone industry. Although two-thirds of the sample fell apart as the result of this major stressor, the other third not only survived but also thrived, showing enhanced performance and health. The differences between these two groups in self-reported early life experiences with their parents and mentors fit very well with what has been said in this Chapter. Indeed, the managers who survived and thrived the catastrophic stresses had earlier reported that their young lives had included many ongoing changes, which were treated by their parents as normal, and that they had been strongly supported in their efforts by their parents, who saw them as the hope of the family. These hardy managers had never felt criti- cized, blamed, or unloved by their parents. In contrast, the managers who fell apart following the catastrophic deregulation of the industry had reported early lives that were unchanging, and even boring. Further, they felt that their parents did not understand or support them, being instead preoccupied with themselves, and insisting that their children fit into what was expected of them.


Carmody, C., Maddi, S. R., & Taddeo, M. (2011). Hardiness as protection against internet addic-

tion. In preparation. Khoshaba,  D.  M.,  &  Maddi,  S.  R.  (1999).  Early  experiences  in  hardiness  development.  Consulting Psychology Journal, 51, 106–116. Khoshaba, D. M., & Maddi, S. R. (2004). HardiTraining: Managing stressful change (5th ed.). Irvine: Hardiness Institute.

Maddi, S. R. (1994). The hardiness enhancing lifestyle program (HELP) for improving physical, 

mental, and social wellness. In C. Hopper (Ed.), Wellness lecture series. Oakland: University of California/HealthNet. Maddi,   S.   R.   (1998).   Creating   meaning   through   making   decisions.   In   P.   T.   P.   Wong   &   P.   S.   Fry   (Eds.), The human quest for meaning (pp. 3–26). Mahwah: Erlbaum.

Maddi, S.R. (2002). The story of hardiness: Twenty years of theorizing, research, and practice. 

Consulting Psychology Journal, 54(3), 173–185.

Maddi, S. R. (2012). Resilience and consumer behavior for higher quality of life. In D. G. Mick, 

S. Pettigrew, C. Pechman, & J. L. Ozanne (Eds.), Transformative consumer research for per- sonal and collective well-being: Reviews and frontiers. New York, NY: Routledge.

McClelland, D. C. (1958). Risk taking in children with high and low need for achievement. In J. 

W. Atkinson (Ed.), Motives in fantasy, action, and society. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.

Chapter 6

Applying Hardiness to Teaching and Counseling

Abstract This chapter concerns hardiness training in adolescence and adulthood. In this, it covers primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Primary and sec- ondary prevention emphasizes hardiness assessment and training in schools. Hardiness assessment and training in counseling emphasizes tertiary prevention. Also covered is the approach to obtaining school approval for a hardiness training course, and the validation of this approach is important in this. Hardiness assess- ment and training in counseling emphasizes help in overcoming conformism, vegetativeness, nihilism, and adventurousness. The specifics of this approach are covered, along with case studies.

Keywords  Hardiness assessment  •  Hardiness training  •  Primary prevention   Secondary prevention  •  Tertiary prevention  •  School approach  •  Counseling  approach  •  Conformism  •  Vegetativeness  •  Nihilism  •  Adventurousness

The previous chapter has emphasized how hardiness training can make an impor- tant contribution when children are being raised by their parents. This approach emphasizes primary prevention, when the children are being prepared for being able to handle significant stresses as they mature. The present chapter covers the applications of hardiness training when people have emerged from childhood into adolescence and adulthood. These applications involve learning hardiness in school, or in counseling. This school approach generally involves primary, and perhaps even secondary prevention, as stresses are mounting when life becomes more complicated, but there is probably no significant emotional damage. In con- trast, counseling concerns tertiary prevention, as there is already some emotional damage that needs to be resolved.

Teaching Hardiness in Schools

The hardiness assessment and training procedures are well developed now, and can be used as the organizing features of courses at the college and high school levels. For assessment, the HardiSurvey III-R is a 65-item, well-validated test of



Applying Hardiness to Teaching and Counseling 

hardy attitudes and strategies, as well as stress and avoidance coping, that can be administered either in hard copy form or on the internet (www.HardinessInstitute .com), and provides a comprehensive report of stress vulnerability and resilience, along with recommendations of what, in anything, needs to be done. Typically, this test is administered both at the beginning and end of the hardiness course, taught by a Certified Hardiness Trainer. In the course, Harditraining (as described  in Chap.4) is facilated through a hard-copy workbook (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004). The hard copy include explanations of hardiness as a basis for improving performance and health, relevant positive and negative case studies, exercises con- cerning the development of hardy strategies and attitudes (as covered in Chap.4), and check-points to evaluate one’s work. In the course meetings, it is the teacher’s role to systematically cover these har- diness assessment and training materials. Students are given assignments to do in their everyday lives, and to document what happens in their workbook. Then, the discussion in class covers what experiences the students have had in their efforts. The teacher’s reactions and support are important in this, as is the verbal interac- tion among the students. To do this in an effective manner, the teacher needs to become a Certified Hardiness Trainer. This involves a three-day training procedure  with the Hardiness Institute, followed by a procedure whereby the Institute stays in touch with the teacher, as the offerings of courses proceeds. If the class enrollment is small, this will facilitate ongoing discussions in which students participate along with the teacher. But, if the class enrollment is large, then it is useful for there to be not only lectures for the class as a whole, but also discussion sections for subgroups in which student interaction is more possible. These discussion sections may be led by teaching assistants, who are supervised by the instructor, or by the instructor him or herself.

Obtaining the School’s Approval for the Hardiness Course

The  first  offering  of  HardiTraining  as  a  college  course  was  at  Utah  Valley  University.  Two  counselors  (Keith  Jensen  and  Elaine  Carter)  became  Certified  Hardiness Trainers, in order to offer the course to high-risk freshmen. The second offering of the course was for undergraduates at University of California, Irvine,  taught by Deborah Khoshaba and me. We were interested in making the course available to undergraduates at all levels of college completion. Interestingly, at both schools, the attempt to obtain permission to offer the HardiTraining course encountered opposition from the committees on aca- demic approval. At first, it was questioned whether the course had any academic value. This question was easily answered, by documenting all the conceptual and research papers that have been performed on hardiness, and its growing influence in psychology. Then, the opposition took the form of questioning the appropriate- ness of giving students course credit for undergoing psychotherapy. We answered

Obtaining the School’s Approval for the Hardiness Course


this objection by making clear that as a course, HardiTraining qualifies as lifestyle training, rather than psychotherapy. After all, it involves primary, or at most sec- ondary prevention for college students, who are presumably not in school because of existing mental disorders. We insisted that, if psychological lifestyle training is not accepted, then we should stop giving students grades in art classes for their ability to draw and paint, and in biology classes for their ability to perform sur- gery on laboratory rats. Soon after, the opposition ended, and HardiTraining was accepted as a regular credit course in both colleges.

Effectiveness of the Hardiness Training Course on Students

In general, the undergraduates seemed extremely pleased with the HardiTraining courses. On both campuses, after finishing the course, students who encounter on campus the teachers of HardiTraining indicate how valuable what they learned was for them. They say things like, “You don’t know what an important difference that course has made in my life”, and “My relationships are so much better now, and I know what I want to do in my life”. They also say, “Why didn’t someone teach us this before?” Needless to say, there is also lots of evidence during the classes themselves of  improvements in functioning, both in the HardiTraining exercises performed in the workbooks, and discussed in class. Typically, the stresses identified by students involve their changing relationships with their parents, attempts to find peers with whom to bond, and struggles to find the right career. In one case, Marilyn’s stressor was that although her parents had insisted that she become a physician (like her father), she had begun to find through college experiences that she really felt more at home and capable being an artist. When she tried to talk about this with her parents, they were very derogatory, indicat- ing such things as that she was obviously expected them to financially support her in adulthood. Hardy coping and social support exercises, supplemented by discus- sions with students and the teacher, helped Marilyn resolve the conflict by con- vincing her parents that she was making an adult decision, based on her classroom and work experiences, and that this decision need not disrupt their love for each other. She kept reaching out to them, despite their initial criticisms of her. Soon, they became less critical, and tried harder to understand her development. As time went on, her paintings got included in an art show, and her parents attended the show proudly. She was making good progress not only in finding a meaningful career for herself, but also in having a deeper, more equal relationship with her parents. In another case, George’s stressor was that whenever he spent time with his male dorm members, they would end up drinking heavily and looking for females with whom to have quick and uninvolving sex. As time went on, he felt more and more empty and lonely, and wanted deeper, more lasting relationships not only



Applying Hardiness to Teaching and Counseling 

with females, but with males as well. He was helped by his class experiences in not only hardy coping and social support, but self-care as well. He kept telling his dorm members that he appreciated them, but needed to spend time trying to find a deep relationship with a female. Because he did not reject them completely,

neither did they avoid him. He kept trying to find other ways to meet females, such as joining clubs of interest to him, and going to relevant campus meetings. Soon, he found the girl he wanted—they became close and spent lots of meaningful time together. He was hardly drinking any more. And, several of his male dorm mem- bers indicated how happy they were for him, and wondered if he could help them do likewise. He shared with them how he and his girlfriend had met, and what he and she had been doing to deepen their relationship. On both campuses, more students try to get into the HardiTraining courses than can be accommodated, and they plead to be accepted on the basis of what friends have told them about the value of the courses. Indeed, Deborah Khoshaba was voted Outstanding Professor of 2008 by undergraduates who had taken the

HardiTraining course at the University of California, Irvine. And, as already cov-

ered in Chap.4, research done at both Utah Valley University, and the University  of  California,  Irvine  have  shown  the  effectiveness  of  learning  hardiness.  In  these carefully controlled studies, it appears that not only do students taking the HardiTraining course increase in hardiness, they also show subsequent increases in Grade-Point-Average (Maddi et al. 2002, 2009). By now, several other colleges and high schools are getting involved with HardiTraining. Among the colleges is San Francisco State University, where HardiTraining is taught by Richard H. Harvey, who was a graduate student of mine. To help at the high school level, Deborah Khoshaba and I have partici- pated  in  a  program,  organized  at  the  University  of  California,  Irvine,  to  provide  local high school teachers with new technologies with which to help their stu- dents learn and develop. Our HardiTraining course contribution for the teachers to become Certified Hardiness Trainers has generally been the most popular of the 

offerings, and we are told by teachers who complete this program that it has been very helpful to them in increasing the hardiness and resulting capabilities of their students.

Teaching Hardiness in Counseling

The hardiness approach is also quite relevant in counseling, or psychotherapy. When people seek counseling, it is usually because they have been undermined by one or more of the three major categories of existential stress in living. These cat- egories are social upheavals, threat of death, and imposed recognition of lifestyle superficiality (Maddi 1967, 1998). Social upheavals can include the trickle-down effects of such things as economic recession, wartime and terrorist disruption, and the transition from an industrial to an information society. Such social changes are especially stressful to people whose low hardiness has led them to have

Teaching Hardiness in Counseling


conformist views that society is an absolute reality, which implies that it should never change. People low in hardiness also tend to treat their biological organism, and those of the others around them, as an absolute reality, almost as if they implicitly believe they will live forever. Thus, the signs of possible or actual death to them- selves and those to whom they are close is a major stressor. The recognition of superficiality in their living is also something that people low in hardiness strenuously avoid. In their conformist ways, they do not admit failures, and bend every effort to avoid stressful problems. They insist that their lives are fine, covering up their feelings of insecurity and worthlessness. So, rec- ognition of the superficiality of their lifestyles will not happen unless it is forced on them by circumstances. A typical circumstance involves spouses, partners, or family members who are suffering sufficiently from the conformists’ superficiality to confront them and force the issue. Another circumstance emerges when people low in hardiness fail simultaneously in so many areas of life that there is little or no way to deny or distract themselves from the flood of adverse information.

Conformism and Existential Sickness

In order to avoid stressful experiences, people low in hardiness tend to endorse conformist views of life. They think and evaluate experiences in terms of fitting into society, avoiding the fragility of biological living, and denying that their expe- riences are in large measure the result of their own decisions. This is what the existential psychologists call a pattern of choosing the past, rather than the future (cf., Maddi 2002, 2004, 2006). Throwing oneself into the unknown and unpredict- able future is too anxiety-provoking for the person low in hardiness. In order to choose the future, you must be able to tolerate the anxiety of uncertainty, and this is helped by the attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge constituting high hardiness. In this, hardiness gives you the courage to face stresses, turn them to your advantage, and grow in the process (Maddi 2002, 2004, 2006). In contrast, if you are low in hardiness, you will engage in conformist views, in hopes that you will be able to avoid the anxiety of ongoing life stresses (Maddi 2002, 2004, 2006). But, this is not a very effective solution, as it stops you from changing and growing in wisdom. As the result of this continual choosing of the past, a sense of guilt (often experienced as depression) builds up over missed opportunities. This sense of having wasted your life can be as serious a mental symptom as can be the ontological anxiety of life’s uncertainty. All this ongoing anxiety and guilt of living can lead you to seek counseling, in order to feel better emotionally (Maddi 1998). But, some people deal with the growing anxiety and guilt by becoming even more defensive in what they do and how they think. This excessively defensive pattern of denying and avoiding may lead to even more serious existential sicknesses, that are also bases for counseling and psychotherapy (Maddi 1998). The most serious of these existential sicknesses



Applying Hardiness to Teaching and Counseling 

is vegetativeness (Maddi 1967). At the cognitive level, individuals suffering from

vegetativeness cannot find anything they are doing or can imagine doing that

seems interesting or worthwhile. At the emotional level, vegetativeness involves

a continuing state of apathy and boredom, punctuated by periods of depression.

And, at the action level, vegetativeness involves a low level of activity and energy, as everything seems aimless and directionless. This vegetative pattern has been indentified through research and psychotherapy practice concerning personal meaning, where it is usually called depression (Farran et al. 1995). Nihilism is a less severe form of existential sickness because there remains some semblance of meaningfulness in the person’s life (Maddi 1967). At the cog- nitive level, the nihilist can only find meaning by disconfirming everything that purports to have positive meaning. At the emotional level, nihilism characteristi- cally involves anger, disgust, and cynicism. At the action level, the nihilistic per- son is competitive and combative, rather than having any self-determined direction (Heidrich and Ryff 1993). The least severe form of existential sickness is adventurousness (Maddi 1967, 1970), in which some basis for positive meaning remains, but only through extreme, risky activities. At the cognitive level, everyday life seems empty, with vitality and importance reserved only for extreme, uncommon experiences. At the emotional level, adventurers are apathetic and bored in ordinary living, feel- ing excited and alive when taking risks. At the action level, people suffering from adventurousness oscillate between lackluster behavior and extreme intensities. Adventurousness is commonly expressed in excessive spending, gambling, pro- miscuous sexuality, and excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.

Specifics of Hardiness Counseling

Some people may seek counseling because they are constantly overwhelmed by anxiety and/or guilt (depression). These people have not yet sunk into specific existential  sicknesses.  Needless  to  say,  even  if  your  hardiness  is  high,  you  will  experience anxiety when disruptive changes provoke you to try to learn what is happening and needs to be done. Indeed, existential anxiety is endemic, though it may not be completely undermining, if your hardiness is reasonably high. It is also true that, even if your hardiness is high, you may well experience existential guilt from time to time, especially when you encounter givens that you cannot do any- thing about (Maddi 2004, 2006). So, the function of counseling for people who are trying their best, and have enough hardiness to be rather successful at this, is to help them put their lives in a broader perspective, so that it will be more emotionally tolerable. In this process, the counselor needs to help the client engage further in HardyCoping. The client  is encouraged to identify the stresses in his/her current life, and to try to prob- lem-solve with regard to each of them in turn. The client needs to identify how each stressor could be worse, or better, and how he/she can help it become better.

Specifics of Hardiness Counseling


This will lead to an Action Plan that the client will be encouraged to implement, with the resulting learning, and changes in worldviews and patterns of interaction. In this process, the support and experience of the counselor is helpful. But, if the person coming for help is suffering from one of the more extreme forms of existential sickness, the counseling process is more prolonged and dif- ficult. Vegetativeness, nihilism, and adventurousness reflect a lifetime of choosing  the past, and the resulting pattern of conformity. But this pattern has been under- mined by traumatic events that have stripped the protective conformist coating from this decision-making limitation. Adventurousness and nihilism express a desperate second line of defense against full recognition of the problem of having chosen the past too often, whereas in vegetativeness there is not even this defen- siveness left. A two-step process is needed to help clients with one or more of the existential sicknesses. The first step involves their gaining insight into the existential basis of their emotional and behavioral problems. This can usually be facilitated by the therapist through a combination of empathy for the client as a poignant expression of human suffering, and strategic interpretations aimed at illuminating the faulty decision-making process that has led to and perpetuates this suffering (Maddi 1996). Therapists can feel successful in this effort when clients recognize that their lives and the meaning therein are of their own making and that the architect of the good life is future-oriented decision making. Having achieved insight, clients then need the courage to actually live a life of their own making, and that involves turning ongoing stresses into growth advan- tages, rather than engaging in denial and avoidance. A basic way of facilitating these insights and the decisions they lead to is HardiTraining (Khoshaba and Maddi 2004). In this, HardyCoping helps engender the skills of problem-solving  that facilitate learning how to turn stressful circumstances from potential disas- ters into growth opportunities. Further, HardiTraining encourages social interac- tion patterns of giving and getting assistance and encouragement, rather than anger and competition involved in blaming others. And, HardiTraining also facilitates engaging in beneficial self-care, rather than risking everything just to distract one- self from stresses and emptiness. This counseling process also helps deepen the Hardy Attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge that constitute the existen- tial courage and motivation to do this hard work of finding fulfillment in a stressful world. In this way, when counseling is over, the client will be able to go ahead on his/her own, toward a better life, rather than sinking once again into denial and avoidance of life’s ongoing stresses. These changes in coping, self-perception, and social interaction patterns will not only diminish anxiety and depression/guilt, but also orient the client toward self-renewal. There are definite signs indicating when the counseling process is complete. One sign is that, in the place of debilitating anxiety and depression, there is emo- tional and behavioral vitality instead. Another sign is the substitution of future- oriented for past-oriented decision making. The capstone is when clients assume responsibility for their own lives, despite all the outside pressures that can eas- ily be blamed for what happens to them. They also accept that they are ultimately



Applying Hardiness to Teaching and Counseling 

alone in their subjectivity, despite wonderfully stimulating efforts at intimacy. And, they face and accept that they will die, despite the heroism involved in creat- ing meaning by choosing the future (Yalom 1980).

Case Examples from Hardiness Counseling

A number of us have been doing counseling from a hardiness standpoint, and there

are numerous examples of the changes it has facilitated in clients. In one case, Mildred was recommended for counseling by her physician, when she had sunk into vegetativeness. As she opened up in the early counseling sessions, it became clear that she had spent her adult life conforming to others and social institu- tions, so that everything would be predictable and undisruptive. Now that she had  reached middle age, she felt that life has no meaning, and is just boring and sta- tionery. She and her husband had divorced, as he could not stand her emptiness, and she could not accept his wishes for a more provoking lifestyle. The divorce agreement had provided her with some money, and she would just sit at home, watching  the  TV  programs,  and  reading  the  writings  that  were  not  disruptive  or  unpredictable. She had very few emotions other than boredom, and did little in or outside of her home that would lead to new experiences. As she was drawn out in the early counseling sessions, Mildred admitted that she had been overprotected by her parents, who felt that the best they could do for her was to make her life stable and predictable. She never even went to college, as that seemed too unpredictable. Also, she arranged to marry the first male she encountered who seemed willing to protect her, as her parents had. But, as time went on, Mildred began to paradoxically feel more and more empty, and that life really had no meaning. Through the counseling process that emphasized HardiTraining, she began to

realize that her life was of her own making, and that she could have made alterna- tive decisions that would have prevented her sense of meaninglessness. The result- ing steps involved actually trying to make such decisions in this later point in her life. She began to read provocative books on existential meaning in our unpredict- able lives. Instead of sitting at home, she joined groups aiming at helping under- privileged youngsters, and tried to learn from her experiences with these group members and those they were trying to support. Whenever her experiences were too much for her to handle, she sought the help of the counselor in putting them into a broader prospective, and learning from them. Before long, she was even looking for an intimate relationship with someone who could help her develop and grow. She realized that her former conclusion that life is meaningless was simply

a way of trying to protect herself from anxiety, but that this approach had led to

the  sense  of  meaninglessness.  Now,  she  wanted  to  grow  and  develop,  no  matter  whether that led to anxious moments that just needed to be understood and toler- ated until conclusions were reached. She wished that she had not wasted so many

of her years, but knew that she would not do that again.

Case Examples from Hardiness Counseling


In another counseling case, Henry showed clear signs of nihilism. He was full of anger at what he regarded as continually competitive and vicious life circum- stances. For example, he believed that all politicians are corrupt, and try to trick voters into supporting them, even though there is no good reason to do so. He also felt that even more ordinary people cannot be trusted, because “it’s all about them”. This is true, he felt, even about one’s own family members. All of life, according to him, was about competition, and who wins by taking advantage of others. Indeed, he had been trying his best to take advantage of the people around him, in his family, and work environment, without being honest with them about his intent. According to him, they were not being honest with him about theirs, so why should he be honest with them? Finally, he felt so isolated and angry that he thought he might try some counseling, though he admitted to not trusting that either. The counselor was so open to Henry that, before he realized it, he began to trust the HardiTraining process. Although his nihilism kept getting in the way, through his wondering whether he should be trusting counseling, some experiential changes began to take place. In this process, he began to realize that in his youth, he remembered experiencing failures and rejections that may well have been a function of his poverty and recent-immigrant status. These rejections had led him to try to conform, but even that did not stop the rejections, so his anger had begun to make him distrust the whole system. As his efforts to use the HardiTraining functions in his life expanded, he was able to reconsider whether he and all others are just competing with each other for their own power. He found himself won- dering if some people he knew who seemed open and cooperative were actually that, rather than secretly competitive. He finally decided to interact with these people by being supportive and appreciative of them, regardless of whether they gained advantage over him. This approach on his part actually helped them open up even more to him, and he began to form actual friendships, in which the inter- actions led to much more positive emotions than the previous anger. As time went on, and these experiences accumulated, Henry began to give up his nihilism, and take a much more positive approach to living. He realized that although some peo- ple are indeed secretly competitive, others are not. And, he began to see how he could bring out the best in people by approaching interactions with them in a sup- portive, though not naïve way. Soon, he actually had a circle of friends, and felt much more open and constructive in his work. Although he would occasionally get angry, his main emotions became positive, and his views were more open and developmentally constructive. And then there is Eric, who sought help when his adventurousness got out of hand. His life had been a conformist ideal. In this regard, he had married a woman who accepted him without question, and who herself led a totally predict- able life. He had found a job that he could do without thinking, and paid him a good salary. Everything else in his life had been routine. Before long, he began wanting excitement and good-luck based surprises. He started gambling on slot machines, and searching out one-time sexual relationships. He kept his excessive spending and infidelity from his wife. And, when even these adventurous activities



Applying Hardiness to Teaching and Counseling 

started becoming a bit predictable and worrisome, he found himself slipping into excessive alcohol drinking. As you can imagine, the conceptual background and specific exercises of HardiTraining helped Eric reconsider the adventurousness, by opening himself more to the ongoing activities of a fulfilling everyday life. He and his wife began to do more things together. They worked on having intimate sexual activities in a way they never had before. They also tried to engage their neighbors in more than a superficial way, having dinners with them, and going to artistic, and governmental activities together. He also took continuing educational courses, and tried to involve himself more in having a leadership role at his job. As these existentially develop- mental activities increased, he became less interested in the adventurous patterns of his past, and he felt a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment in his life. In all three cases covered, the assistance and encouragement of the counselors were very important in the recovery of their clients. But, the counseling process was not just accepting everything the clients said. The counselors asked many hardiness-related questions about present and past experiences which led the cli- ents to deny and avoid stresses. And, as all this was clarified, the counseling emphasized how life is by its nature stressful, and how hardiness provides the courage to face this, and turn the stresses into growth opportunities. In this, the specifics of HardiTraining were especially helpful for Mildred, Henry, and Eric. Hardy Coping provided a basis for identifying the relevant stresses, putting them  into prospective, determining the actions that would turn the stresses to advan- tage, and then taking the actions. Hardy Social Support helped the clients iden- tify conflicts with significant others, and helped them do what was necessary to resolve the conflicts, rather than letting them fester and avoiding it all. And, Hardy Self-Care  was  also  useful  in  helping  the  clients  recognize  and  accept  the  impor- tance of remaining healthy throughout all the hard work of turning stresses into growth advantages. Hardy Self-Care was particularly important for Eric, who was  beginning to slip into excessive alcohol use at the beginning of his counseling. In this counseling process, the practice of the Hardy Strategies, which was sup- ported by the counselors, gave the clients the feedback they needed to deepen their Hardy Attitudes. This helped them get to the point where they no longer needed counseling, as they had the courage needed to function effectively on their own. Needless to say, there are many other case studies exemplifying how the hardiness  counseling approach helps people give up conformist attempts to deny and avoid stresses, and instead, transform these stresses into a growth and fulfillment process.


Farran, C. J., Herth, K. A., & Popovich, J. M. (1995). Hope and hopelessness: Critical clinical constructs. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Heidrich, S. M., & Ryff, C. D. (1993). The role of social comparison processes in the psycho-

logical adaptations of elderly adults. Journal of Gerontology, 48, 127–136.



Khoshaba, D. M., & Maddi, S. R. (2004). HardiTraining: Managing stressful change (5th ed.). Irvine: Hardiness Institute. Maddi, S. R. (1967). The existential neurosis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 72, 311–325. Maddi, S. R. (1970). The search for meaning. In M. Page (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motiva- tion. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Maddi,  S.  R.  (1996).  Existential  psychotherapy.  In  J.  Garske,  &  S.  Lynn  (Eds.),  Contemporary

Psychotherapy (2nd. Ed.). New York, NY: Merrill Publishers.

Maddi,   S.   R.   (1998).   Creating   meaning   through   making   decisions.   In   P.   T.   P.   Wong   &   P.   S.   Fry   (Eds.), The human quest for meaning (pp. 3–26). Mahwah: Erlbaum. Maddi, S.R. (2002). The story of hardiness: Twenty years of theorizing, research, and practice. Consulting Psychology Journal, 54(3), 173–185. Maddi, S. R. (2004). Hardiness: An operationalization of existential courage. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 44, 279–298. Maddi, S. R. (2006). Hardiness: The courage to grow from stresses. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(3), 160–168.

Maddi, S. R., Khoshaba, D. M., Jensen, K., Carter, E., Lu, J., & Harvey, R. H. (2002). Hardiness 

training for high-risk undergraduates. NACADA Journal, 22, 45–55.

Maddi, S.R., Harvey, R.H., Khoshaba, F.M., & Resurreccion, N. (2009). Hardiness training facil-

itates performance in college. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 566–577. Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

Chapter 7

Hardiness as a Relationship and Work Facilitator

Abstract Emphasized is the hardiness approach to turning stresses into growth and development. It is important to recognize the inherently changing nature of relationships and work situations, and to immerse yourself in this. This takes the courage of hardy attitudes, and the hard work of hardy strategies. One must learn through failures as well as successes. Significant relationships need to be deepened in intimacy. Work needs to be fulfilled through what one continues to learn. In all this, neither particular relationships nor work settings need to last forever.

Keywords  Social relationships  •  Work settings  •  Ongoing stresses    Courage  •  Hard work  •  Learning through failures  •  Learning through successes

The material covered thus far in this book emphasizes that life is a continually changing, and therefore stressful phenomenon. Also covered is the emphasis on Hardiness  as  a  pattern  of  attitudes  and  strategies  that  helps  you  turn  the  stresses  from potential disasters into growth opportunities. This leads to a view of the most fulfilling and meaningful life as a continual process of development through what has been learned by attempting to turn stresses to your advantage. This chapter elaborates on how this ongoing process facilitates your work and relationships.

The Changing Nature of Relationships and Work Situations

For all of us, life is a continually changing phenomenon. We are always dealing with the requirements of personal development, and the imposition of megatrends over which we have little control. When you interact with others, you and they will be undergoing patterns of change that are either similar to or different from yours. Further, when you interact with your work situation, it will also be undergoing patterns of change that may be similar to or different from yours. After all, com- panies and work situations are always trying to respond to whatever advances will facilitate the value of their products and their income.



Hardiness as a Relationship and Work Facilitator 

As indicated in previous chapters, these ongoing changes may well be anxiety provoking for you, as they make life seem somewhat uncertain. If you lack the courage provided by high personality hardiness, you may keep trying to protect yourself from experiencing these changes in your interaction with others and your work situation. Specifically, you will find people with whom to interact who are similar to you in trying to deny and avoid changes. And, you will find a job that requires only routine, repetitive actions from you. As time goes on, this empha- sis on denial and avoidance may well lead to boredom and a sense of emptiness. This is also painful, based on the need for information to process, which is a requirement of our well-developed brains (Maddi 1967, 1970). So, even if you are successful in avoiding ongoing anxiety due to the uncertainty of changing circum- stances, you will fall into a sense that life has little or no meaning. So, the best you can do is to immerse yourself in the changes inherent in inter- personal relationships and work situations. You will be looking for relationships with others who are also immersed in ongoing developmental changes. So, these interac- tions will themselves involve change and complexity. And, you will look for jobs that involve changing circumstances that require you to learn and grow also. To immerse

yourself in changes, you need the pattern of attitudes and skills of hardiness. Together,

the Hardy Attitudes of Commitment, Control, and Challenge help you to expect ongo-

ing, stressful changes (as this is what life is all about), to want to stay involved with others and situations, and to try to turn changes to advantage through what you learn (Maddi 2002). These 3Cs constitute the existential courage and motivation to not only approach changes, but also take the difficult actions that are involved in turning stress- ful circumstances to growth advantage. These Hardy Actions involve problem-solving  (rather than denial and avoidance) coping, socially-supportive (rather than avoid- ant) interactions with people and circumstances, and beneficial (rather than indul- gent) self-care (Maddi 2002). Specifically, the hardy coping effort involves putting the stresses in perspective, understanding them more deeply, and taking the actions that can turn them to advantage. The hardy social support effort involves identifying

existing conflicts with significant others, openly communicating with and listening to these others, and trying to replace the conflict with a mutual pattern of assistance and encouragement in the process of growth and development. And, hardy self-care involves instituting beneficial, rather than undermining patterns of relaxing, eat- ing, drinking, and exercising in the process. This self-care will not only support your ongoing health, but also moderate your body’s arousal level so that it is neither too high nor too low to facilitate the hard work of hardy coping and social interactions.

The Importance of Learning Through Failures as Well as Successes

Needless to say, what is being proposed here is an active, changing, and growth- oriented approach to day-by-day living. You will be looking for relationships and work situations that are complex and changing, and trying to interact with, and grow  through  them  successfully.  In  all  this,  Hardy Attitudes  will  help  you  tolerate 

The Importance of Learning Through Failures as Well as Successes


the  anxiety  or  uncertainty,  and  the  Hardy Actions  will  help  you  interact  intensely  enough to learn and grow through that process. In all this, you will avoid the bore- dom and emptiness of just being conventional, and gain in fulfillment through your life pattern. However provocative and exciting such a life will be, that does not mean that  you will always be successful in what you try. Even though you are learning all the while, this complex process of interacting with ongoing changes, and changing in the process, may sometimes lead to failures, rather than successes. For example, you may be dating someone you seem really interested in, but he/she seems less ready for sexual involvement than are you. Or, the other person you are dating wants more of your time than you can manage, with your extensive social network and job activities. Or, you and the other person you are dating have been trying hard to get closer and closer, but somehow that does not seem to happen, and you finally make the difficult, mutual decision to stop seeing each other. As to social interaction with family members, you and a sibling may have contentious disa- greements. You may try to resolve this by interpreting how the other one started each problem. But, all this does is make the relationship more contentious. As to work, you may have been involving yourself diligently and with passion for a long time, but are shocked when your fellow worker gets the promotion that you wanted. Or, your company is changing and growing so rapidly that you get transferred to its office in another city, even though you were happy with your life where you were living. Or, if the company changes enough, it may let you go, eventhough you were thinking you wanted to be part of it forever. Needless to say, what is a failure for one person may not be for another. Nonetheless, even if we are living fully, with high hardiness, there will be failures from time to time. They are, after all, an essential characteristic of a changing life. But, if you are hardy, you will be able to learn from the failures, as well as the suc- cesses. You will be able to think systematically about what led to the failure, and determine what you may be able to do to reverse it, or stop that kind of thing from happening in the future. If you are hardy, this will not be denial and avoidance, so much as learning and growing in wisdom. As to the examples mentioned above, you may learn more about who to date, and how to involve yourself and the other, and the importance of being patient. With regard to the contentious relationship with a family member, you may well learn not to confront the other so much, and just try to be understanding and supportive instead. And, regarding the company you were working in, you may well learn that you just cannot control everything in such a complex environment, and must just accept some things that happen, even if you did not expect them. In all this, you will be learning that life is a complex phenom- enon, but you must nonetheless continue to stay involved, and do the best you can.

Deepening Significant Relationships into Intimacy

Let us think more about relationships with significant others, from a hardiness per-

spective. Just because hardiness helps you to tolerate the uncertainty of stressful changes that does not mean that you want to develop a pattern of going from one



Hardiness as a Relationship and Work Facilitator 

interactive relationship to another. After all, the superficiality of relationships that are switched all the time will likely lead you to feeling empty and bored, which is the end result of your efforts to deny and avoid uncertainty by not getting involved. Instead, the hardy person is more likely to try to deepen each relationship as much as possible, as this is more likely to lead to an emerging sense of meaning and fulfillment. This is especially true when the relationship is with a significant other, such as a family member, or someone with whom you have fallen in love. Often times, when people who are low in hardiness get married, they go from try- ing to develop the relationship to assuming that it is there, no matter what. Now they feel that they can relax. Then, as time goes on, there is less and less pro- vocative, developmental interaction between the spouses than there was before the marriage. And, before they know it, they are bored with the marriage, and begin seeking excitement elsewhere. This is an especially problematic situation in our society, with its growing divorce rate, which is now more than 50 %. In contrast, when the people who get married are high in hardiness, they will continue to inter- act with each other in provocative, developmental ways, making continual efforts to grow in intimacy, and learn from that process. If anything, they will get closer, and more interested in each other, as time goes on. By their interactions, they will continue to grow individually, and in their intimacy together.

Engaging in Fulfilling Work by Learning all the Time

The work situation is a similar circumstance. Many people look for work that will give them a sufficient income without being stressful. They want to know exactly what they need to do, and to have as little change as possible in the work process. Needless to say, these people are probably low in hardiness. If they are successful in having chosen work that is minimally provocative, they will become less inter- ested in it as time goes on. Even if they continue to get the salary they anticipated, they will grow in boredom and emptiness. In contrast, people high in hardiness will try to select jobs that provoke them to continue to grow and develop. Their work will be hard, and force them to keep learning new skills and expectations. And, in this process, they will get more deeply involved in their work and the company that employs them. In this process, they will be more likely to get promotions, as they are not only continuing to grow individually, but also to help the company grow and develop in its industry.

Neither Relationships Nor Work Settings Need Last Forever

Understandably, the higher your hardiness, the more likely you will be to have rela- tionships with significant others and work situations that will continue to deepen, increase in meaningfulness, and provoke you to grow in wisdom and capability.

Neither Relationships Nor Work Settings Need Last Forever


This does not mean, however, that relationships and work settings need to last forever. As to relationships, they sometimes end despite efforts to have them last and increase in intimacy. Also, deaths and sicknesses occur. Sometimes, work set- tings end despite efforts to maintain and deepen them. After all, it is the boss who makes judgments as to the employees, regardless of how much the latter may try to contribute. And, companies can also be ended, through economic downturns, bankruptcies, and the like. Once again, the higher your hardiness, the better able you will be to accept the ending of relationships or work settings, if that happens. After all, an important component of hardiness is the recognition and acceptance of the limited life of relationships and work settings, no matter how good the expe- rience of them has been.


Maddi, S. R. (1967). The existential neurosis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 72, 311–325. Maddi, S. R. (1970). The search for meaning. In M. Page (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motiva- tion. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. Maddi, S. R. (2002). The story of hardiness: Twenty years of theorizing, research, and practice. Consulting Psychology Journal, 54, 173–185.

Chapter 8

How Hardiness Facilitates Functioning in Military and Safety Roles

Abstract This chapter concerns how military and safety work roles impose especially stressful circumstances on personnel. These stresses include threats to life, violence requirements, and excessive separation from family life. In these stressful circumstances, hardiness attitudes and strategies have an especially important role in maintaining effective and fulfilling living. Specifically, hardiness helps in finding and fulfilling a bigger picture of life. Also considered is terrorism, which is a new and especially undermining set of stresses that need to be put in perspective and learned from.

Keywords  Military personnel  •  Firefighters  •  Police  •  Life-threatening  stresses  •  Violence requirements  •  Family separation  •  Terrorism  •  Hardiness  attitudes  •  Hardiness strategies  •  Hardiness assessment  •  Hardiness training

Let  us  now  consider  how  soldiers,  policemen,  and  firefighters  have  to  function  in their difficult roles. Needless to say, these roles often involve personnel in not just  ordinary  stressfulness,  but  actual  life-threatening  circumstances.  These  life- threatening circumstances certainly require that the personnel be adept at toler- ating and adapting to stresses, without letting them undermine performance. It is certainly unusual for one’s work to involve the possibility of dying, and kill- ing others. So, it is especially important to consider how to facilitate military and safety personnel in dealing with these extraordinary stresses. Indeed, the training of military and safety personnel emphasizes how to deal with these potentially deadly stresses. I have observed some of this at the training campus of Long Beach, CA Fire Academy. The trainers start fires in the intended  buildings on campus, and it is the role of the firefighter cadets to put these fires out. I have observed some cadets in these tasks to start screaming, drop their hoses,  and  run  out  of  the  buildings.  Further,  I  am  familiar  with  the  training  of  cadets  at  the  U.S.  Military Academy  in West  Point,  NY.  In  addition  to  the  usual  stresses of the academic courses, the cadets are immersed in (1) sleep deprivation, (2) strenuous field exercises involving fighting, continual military, and physical fitness training, (3) formal sports, (4) living to a high standard of character and behavior (the honor code), (5) limited opportunities to go off post and visit home,

S. R. Maddi, Hardiness, SpringerBriefs in Psychology, 

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-5222-1_8, © The Author(s) 2013




How Hardiness Facilitates Functioning in Military and Safety Roles 

(6) being constantly evaluated in all this, (7) familiarizing themselves with former cadets who have been killed or seriously wounded in action, (8) preparing them- selves  to  lead  soldiers  in  life-threatening  situations  shortly  following  graduation,  and (9) leading and developing less senior cadets. Needless to say, the training of police officers is also intentionally stressful, as they need to confront the possibil- ity of dying, having others around them die, and actually killing criminals. But, in order to fully understand the stressfulness of military and safety roles,  it  is  also  important  to  consider  the  pressures  on  the  personnel  when  the  life- threatening circumstances are not being experienced. In particular, personnel in these work roles have to spend lots of time together, while little or no substantial stresses are taking place. Firefighters, police, and soldiers are often just waiting for  the occurrence of the stresses with which they need to deal. Relevant was a con- versation I had with a couple of police officers in Chicago, when they drove me  around with them to see what their work was like. Nothing much happened, and they said to me that although 10 % of their work time involved the possibility of getting killed, the other 90 % could be really boring. Indeed, most of the time of firefighters and police officers is spent living with each  other,  while  waiting  for  some  possibly  life-threatening  stress  involving  fires or criminal actions that may or may not occur. The life of soldiers is simi- lar, unless they are continually on the battlefield. Although this ongoing battlefield experience happens sometimes, it is not particularly typical. That military and safety personnel spend so much time together also detaches them from their fami- lies.  So,  the  time  spent  together,  waiting  for  life-threatening  stresses,  and  being  detached from their families, can well be a source of stresses involving emptiness, loneliness, and detachment. When these stresses are added to those of possible death and killing, the life of military and safety personnel emerges as particularly complex and difficult.

The Special Importance of Hardiness

It is not enough, in military and safety work, to be merely oriented toward killing or saving others. Since most of one’s time in such work is spent living with fellow employees in not only ordinary, but even boring circumstances, one must be good at figuring out how to do this well in order to be successful at your job. And, your success will also need to involve how to remain supportive and involved with your family members, even though you often do not get to spend much time with them. Even with regard to the part of your work that involves fighting with enemies, and saving those you are protecting, your job is much more complex than just being aggressive. If you are a soldier or a police officer, and just emphasize the aggressiveness, you may well end up killing people unnecessarily. These days, we keep hearing about how in North African countries, peaceful protesters are being killed, rather than just kept in order, so that their views can be heard and debated. Similarly, from time to time in this country, we hear claims that the police are

The Special Importance of Hardiness


killing people excessively, rather than just arresting them, even if this is difficult. In these examples, it is not enough to be told that those killed deserved it because of their behavior. And, while firefighters do not actively kill others, they may respond to fires in an insensitive, unthinking manner that may put themselves, and their colleagues in danger unnecessarily. The complexity and subtlety of military and safety roles needs to be recognized clearly, and learned from, if the personnel involved are to be at their best. Hardy  Attitudes will help soldiers, police, and firefighters stay involved when stresses mount  (Commitment),  keep  trying  to  influence  outcomes  (Control),  and  try  to  learn from the complexities and changes so as to perform even better (Challenge).  And,  the  Hardy  Attitudes  will  also  provide  the  motivation  to  do  the  hard  work  involved in Hardy (problem-solving) Coping with stressful circumstances, Hardy  (socially-supportive)  Interactions  with  significant  others,  and  Hardy  (beneficial)  Self-Care under pressure. The higher their Hardiness, the more will the military and safety personnel be  able to see the bigger picture, and function at that level. The bigger picture has to do with their jobs including the protection of others in the relatively infrequent times requiring that, but also using the larger components of down time to develop themselves and their relationships with fellow employees, and finding ways to remain close to family members with whom they cannot spend as much time as would make that easier. Especially important in effectively protecting the others the military and safety personnel represent, will be Hardy (problem-solving) Coping. In this, the soldiers, 

police,  and  firefighters  will  be  not  just  reacting  automatically,  but  also  reflect- ing on the situations, and figuring out the best way to proceed in the overall goal of dealing with dangers in order to best protect those who are employing them.

I do not mean in this that the military and safety personnel should fail to follow

the orders of their superiors. Rather, it is important for the superiors to figure out what is really going on, and what is the best thing to do. Then, the superiors need

to explain this to their subordinates. In this interactive process, the subordinates, who have also observed what is going on, should be able to raise questions and make additional suggestions, as this ongoing process is the most likely to lead to

the most-effective strategies to follow. It is not enough for superiors to just keep  imposing old plans on their subordinates, without thinking them through with regard to what is now going on. Nor is it enough for subordinates to just follow the orders, without discussing their relevance to whatever now seems to be going on. There needs to be an ongoing dialogue, so that the team can function best in what

it does. In this process, supervisors will be bringing the best out of their subordi-

nates, and the subordinates will be more fully committed to their supervisors. Important for soldiers, police, and firefighters in the attempt to make something meaningful out of the relatively large amount of empty time they spend at work when not dealing with dangers, will be not only Hardy (problem-solving) Coping,  but  Hardy  (socially-supportive)  Interactions,  and  Hardy  (beneficial)  Self-Care  as  well. The down time needs to be seen as a bigger picture, namely, an opportunity to grow and develop, increase closeness with fellow workers, and overcome the



How Hardiness Facilitates Functioning in Military and Safety Roles 

separation from family members. Personal growth and development may include  such  activities  as  taking  on-line  continuing  education  courses,  through  having  one’s  laptop  in  the  facility  where  you  and  the  others  spend  down  time. You  can  also spend some time reading and reflecting upon books, articles, and newspapers  that keep you using your mind and learning what is happening in the world, and how that involves you. This  ongoing  developmental  process  emphasizes  Hardy  Coping,  and  can  also  lead you to involve your fellow workers in what you are learning, and what they too may be learning. In addition, you may well be able to use this interaction pro- cess  to  deepen  your  relationship  with  them. You  and  they  may  have  meaningful  dialogues, and further express your and their beliefs, concerns, and hopes as grow- ing individuals. Also, you may well be able to include your family members in this ongoing developmental dialogue, through conversations not only in person (when that is possible), but by telephone and the internet (when you are not together). In this process, family members and you will feel closer, even when you literally can- not see or touch each other. All of this emphasizes Hardy Social Support. It  is  also  important  that  this  growth  process  involve  Hardy  (beneficial)  Self- Care. After all, if you are just sitting there (rather than growing and developing),  during the extensive down time, you will become more and more bored. This bore- dom, coupled with the thoughts in your mind that the dangerous part of your work may happen when you least expect it, will increase your desire for self-indulgence. 

For  what  seems  like  the  fun  of  it,  you  may  indulge  in  excessive  eating  of  sweet 

and fatty foods, and intake of alcohol and/or drugs. You may also slip into exces-

sive spending and gambling, either on your own or with your fellow workers, not only  directly,  but  also  through  the  internet  and/or  mail.  But,  through  Hardiness, 

you  will  be  much  more  likely  to  engage  in  beneficial  self-care,  if  you  are  also  functioning in ways that increase your growth and development, and your close- ness with fellow workers. Instead of denying and avoiding the stressful and boring

nature of your work, you will be using Hardiness to reach fulfillment and mean-

ingfulness, as you grow and develop.

Relevant Hardiness Research

In previous chapters, the research results concerning the relationship between Hardy  Attitudes  and  Hardy  Skills  has  been  covered  (cf.  Maddi  2002). These results  show  a  consistent  positive  correlation  between  the  total  Hardy  Attitudes  score  and  scores  on  Hardy  Coping,  Hardy  Social  Support,  and  Hardy  Self-Care.  The samples involved include college students and working adults. Among work- ing adults, some of the samples involved firefighters and soldiers. The available

research also shows a positive relationship between Hardiness and various meas-

ures  of  effective  performance,  such  as  creativity,  grade-point-average,  basketball  performance, retention in school, and positive job evaluations (cf. Maddi 2002). Also,  hardiness  is  negatively  related  to  stress-related  health  difficulties,  such  as 

Relevant Hardiness Research


anxiety, depression, anger, tension, lack of energy, and digestive and sleep prob- lems (Maddi 1999; Maddi et al. 2006). Of particular relevance to this chapter are some of these studies that were done on firefighters and soldiers. In one study (Maddi et al. 2007), Hardiness was measured in a sample of fire- fighters,  and  compared  to  their  ongoing  improvement  notification  points  (INP).  The  higher  the  firefighter’s  INP,  the  poorer  is  his/her  performance. As  expected,  this study showed a negative relationship between INP and Hardy Attitudes, Hardy  Coping,  and  Hardy  Social  Support,  showing  the  value  of  these  expressions  of  Hardiness in extremely stressful occupations. This pattern of results also appeared  in a sample of firefighter cadets, who were tested for Hardiness scores just before  their  stressful  four-and-a-half-month  training  program  began.  Their  Hardiness  scores  were  compared  to  their  INP  scores  at  the  end  of  training.  As  expected,  Hardiness and signs of inadequate performance tended to be negatively correlated. There are also several studies showing similar results among samples of sol- diers.  For  example,  Hardy  Attitudes  measured  in  soldiers  who  were  about  to  undergo peace-keeping or combat missions abroad (Bartone 1999) showed that the

lower  the  Hardy Attitudes  were,  the  greater  was  the  likelihood  that  life-threaten- ing experiences, and the culture-shock of engagement abroad, would lead to such  psychological  breakdowns  as  depression  disorders  or  post-traumatic  stress  disor- ders. Bartone et al. (1989) also studied a sample of military personnel whose task was to help the family members of soldiers who had been killed in battle overseas. Hardiness helped these military personnel to perform their difficult supportive task  effectively, and avoid being psychologically undermined in the process. There  are  also  studies  of  the  role  of  Hardiness  in  military  personnel  going  through the stressful training that prepares them for their difficult work. Westman (1990) worked with a sample of Israeli soldiers who were selected to go through officer  training  school.  Hardiness  levels  were  measured  before  the  partici- pants entered the training, and compared to their observations and performance

throughout the training. The higher the Hardiness levels, the greater was the ten-

dency to perceive the training as stressful, but to graduate successfully nonethe- less. Needless to say, officer training school is intended to be stressful, in order to teach participants how to cope. If your ability to see a stressful circumstance clearly is poor, because you are trying to deny and avoid, how can you cope with

it  effectively  enough  to  find  a  solution? Also  with  the  Israeli  military,  Florian  et  al. (1995)  found  that  Hardiness  positively  predicts  mental  health  at  the  end  of  a  4-month  combat  training  program.  Using  path  analysis,  they  found  that  mediat-

ing factors included Hardy Coping and Hardy Social Support, as interaction strate-

gies. Further, Bartone and Snook (1999) did a study of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy  (West  Point).  They  found  that  the  best  predictor  of  transformational  leadership behavior was Hardy Attitudes, measured early in the training process.  Transformational leadership involves bringing the best out of your subordinates, rather than just ordering them around. These  studies  highlight  the  importance  of  Hardiness,  as  the  existential  cour- age and motivation to do the hard work of turning stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities. A recent study by Maddi et al. (2011)



How Hardiness Facilitates Functioning in Military and Safety Roles 

supports this conclusion. This research also studied cadets at the U.S. Military Academy  (West  Point). They  were  measured  for  Hardy Attitudes  in  the  summer  immediately prior to beginning their training program. This training program is understandably stressful, taking into account the various hard things that offic- ers in the U.S. Army must do in trying times. Specifically, the training program involves not only heavy and challenging academic course loads, but also continual military and physical fitness training; formal sports; living up to a high standard of

character and behavior (the Honor Code); having less than 5 h of sleep per night; 

having limited opportunities to go off post and visit home; being constantly evalu- ated as to academic, military, and physical fitness performance; knowing former cadets who have been killed or seriously wounded in action; knowing they must

prepare themselves to lead soldiers in life-threatening situations shortly after grad-

uation; and leading and developing less senior cadets. By systematically exposing  cadets to progressively more stressful and challenging training it is hoped that they will learn to use their cognitive, emotional, and physiological responses to advan- tage in stressful circumstances and hence perform more effectively when faced with real threats. This study tested the expectation that the courage of cadets would help them transform these extensive stressful training circumstances to advantage, as shown by the effectiveness of their performance (Maddi et al. 2011). The overall per- formance measure available at the end of the first year of training was the Cadet  Performance  Score  (CPS),  which  is  the  cumulative  weighted  average  of  perfor- mance scores in physical fitness, academic, and military courses. The physical fitness, academic, and military scores showed statistically significant correlations

with the total CPS score of 0.569, 0.936, and 0.809, respectively.

Two measures of courage were included as independent variables in this study. The cadets took these tests in the summer preceding their entrance into the training program. One measure was Grit, which is a 17 item question- naire involving an unswerving, sustained pursuit of a given interest or goal

(Duckworth and Quinn 2009). The items are answered on a 5-point Likert scale 

from one (Not like me at all) to five (Very much like me). The emphasis of this  measure is on a long-term perseverance despite setbacks and distractions. Items  cover the two highly empirically-related factors of Consistency of Interests, and  Perseverance of Effort, which has led to the total Grit score to be utilized as an  index of courage. Examples of test items are “I aim to be the best in the world at what I do”, “I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge”, “I am ambitious”, and “I finish whatever I begin.” This scale has shown adequate reliability and validity across a variety of achievement realms requiring sus- tained and focused application of capability over time. In our study, the internal consistency reliability of the total Grit score for the sample of cadets was 0.77 (p = 0.01). The  other  indicator  of  courage  included  in  this  study  was  Hardiness,  as  measured  by  the  Personal Views  Survey,  III-R  (PVS  III-R).  This  18  item  ques- tionnaire (Maddi et al. 2006) includes six items for each of the three empirically- related  Cs  of  Commitment,  Control,  and  Challenge.  Specifically,  these  three 

Relevant Hardiness Research


empirically-related  factors  of  Hardiness  are:  Commitment—active  engagement 

or involvement in activities of life (vs. alienation), Control—belief that you can 

influence events of your experience (vs. powerlessness), and Challenge—percep-

tion of stresses and changes as natural opportunities for development (vs. threat).

All  of  the  PVS  III-R  items  are  answered  on  a  4-point  Likert  scale  of  0  (Not  at  all true) to three (Completely true). Examples of items are: for Commitment—“I  often wake up eager to take up life wherever it left off” (positive indicator), and “It’s hard to imagine anyone getting excited about working” (negative indicator); for  Control—“When  I  make  plans,  I’m  certain  I  can  make  them  work”  (posi- tive indicator), and “Most of what happens in life is just meant to be”; and for Challenge—“Changes in routine provoke me to learn” (positive indicator), and “I  am not equipped to handle the unexpected problems of life” (negative indicator). In this study, the internal consistency reliability estimate for total Hardiness was 


A third independent variable also included in this study was the whole can-

didate  score  (WCS).  This  is  a  weighted  composite  of  high  school  indictors  of  academic  performance  (Grade-Point-Average,  high  school  rank,  and  Scholastic  Aptitude Test scores), leadership potential (extracurricular activities includ- ing being school officers, scouting, and faculty appraisals), and physical fitness (assessment  on  standardized  physical  exercises).  This WCS  is  used  in  conjunc- tion with other information in the decision as to whether or not to admit an applicant  to  the  US  Military Academy. WCS  has  been  shown  in  previous  stud- ies to the primary predictor for West Point cadet academic, military, and physical  performance.

In analyzing the results of this study, binary logistical regression analyses were

relied upon to determine the effectiveness of WCS, Grit, and Hardiness on subse-

quent performance. Whatever intercorrelations there were among these three vari- ables were controlled for in this type of regression analysis. Clearly, WCS was the  major  predictor  of  performance,  as  measured  by  the  CPS  at  the  end  of  the  first 

academic year. This is not surprising, as performance is the best predictor of per- formance, especially when high school performance is the major basis for admit- ting applicants to the U.S. Military Academy. But, Hardiness made an additional,  statistically-significant contribution to the prediction of CPS. In contrast, Grit had  no role in predicting CPS. This pattern of results is consistent with the emphasis we have been put- ting  on  the  importance  of  Hardiness  in  the  performance  of  military  personnel.  After  all,  Hardiness  is  existential  courage,  which  involves  recognizing  and  accepting that life is by its nature stressful, and seeing the ongoing changes as an opportunity to learn and grow in wisdom and effectiveness. In contrast, Grit emphasizes insisting on goals you already have, and not changing despite the changing world. Although this may be regarded as a kind of courage, it is not existential enough to facilitate growing and developing in a manner that leads toward more and more effective performance. Rather, it is the existential cour- age of Hardiness that leads to resilience and effectiveness in complex, changing  environments.



How Hardiness Facilitates Functioning in Military and Safety Roles 

How Military and Safety Personnel Need to Function in Times of Terrorism

As if the work and family lives of military and safety personnel were not com- plex and stressful enough, we are now in a time of terrorism. The days when wars were fought exclusively on battlefields are over. These days, there is an increase in secretive acts of aggression, such as fires, explosions, and contaminations, perpe- trated against ordinary citizens, involving unexpected attacks on buildings, shop- ping malls, church ceremonies, offices, roadsides, and the like. These attacks are often carried out by enemies who appear to be ordinary people, so that no one will know what they are about. In all this, it becomes almost impossible to know clearly who is winning, and who is losing. This emphasis on terrorism is changing dramatically what not only military personnel, but also firefighters and police need to do to maintain peace, protect their  allies,  and  defeat  the  enemies. This  is  all  the  more  reason  for  Hardiness  as  an important personal characteristic that will enhance the performance of the peo- ple we all depend on to keep the peace and defeat the enemy. What is needed, as an addition to traditional skills and knowledge, is the existential courage to learn from unexpectedly disastrous situations, so as to anticipate and avoid such disas- ters in the future, and become sensitive to those who are bringing them about.


Bartone,   P.   T.   (1999).   Hardiness   protects   against   war-related   stress   in   army   reserve   forces.   Consulting Psychology Journal, 51, 72–82. Bartone,   P.   T.,   &   Snook,   S.   A.   (1999).   Cognitive and personality factors predict leader develop - ment in U.S. Army cadets. Paper presented at 35th International Applied Military Psychology  Symposium, May, Florence, Italy. Bartone,   P.   T.,   Ursano,   R.   J,   Wright,   K.   M.,   &   Ingraham,   L.   H.   (1989).   the   impact   of   a   military   air disaster on the health of assistance workers: A prospective study. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177, 317–328.

Florian, V., Milkulincer, M., & Taubman, O. (1995). Does hardiness contribute to mental health 

during a stressful real life situation? The roles of appraisal and coping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 687–695. Maddi, S. R. (1999). The personality construct of hardiness, I: Effect on experiencing, coping, and strain. Consulting Psychology Journal, 51, 83–94. Maddi, S. R. (2002). The story of hardiness: Twenty years of theorizing, research, and practice. Consulting Psychology Journal, 54, 173–185.

Maddi, S. R., Harvey, R. H., Khoshaba, D. M., Lu, J. H., Persico, M., & Brow, M. (2006). The 

personality construct of hardiness, III: Relationships with repression, innovativeness, authori- tarianism, and performance. Journal of Personality, 74, 575–598.

Maddi, S. R., Harvey, R. H., Resurreccion, R., Giatras, C. D., & Raganold, S. (2007). Hardiness 

as a performance enhancer in firefighters. International Journal of Fire Service Leadership and Management, 1(2), 3–9. Maddi,  S.  R.,  Matthews,  M.  D.,  Kelly,  D.  R.,, Villarreal,  B.,  & White,  M.  (2011).  The  role  of  hardiness and grit in predicting performance and retention in USMA cadets. Military Psychology, submitted. Westman, M. (1990). The relationship between stress and performance: The moderating effect of hardiness. Human Performance, 3, 141–155.

Chapter 9

The Importance of Hardy Organizations

Abstract This chapter emphasizes hardiness at the organizational level. This is especially important in our changing times, in which it has become more difficult for organizations to turn adversity into opportunity, fulfill obligations to custom- ers, and keep the best personnel. Discussed is how organizations need hardiness in their culture, climate, structure, and personnel. The advantage of this is that hardy organizations will not become complacent and bureaucratic, as will organizations low in hardiness. Also discussed is how organizations can assess and develop their hardiness.

Keywords  Hardy organizations  •  Megatrends of change  •  Organizational   culture  •  Climate  •  Structure  •  And personnel  •  Cooperation  •  Credibility  •  Creativity  •  Bureaucracy  •  Assessing organizational   hardiness  •  Improving organizational hardiness

Up to this point, the emphasis has been on the importance of Hardiness at the indi- vidual level. But, organizations also need to be Hardy, if they are to survive and  thrive in ongoing stressful circumstances. After all, organizations have goals that need to be met if they are to be successful, by competing effectively with other organizations, turning potential adversity into growth opportunities, fulfilling their obligations to customers, and keeping their best personnel on board. Added to these ongoing, developmental stresses that organizations undergo are

other  megatrends  that  will  add  further  complications.  Indeed,  the  waning  years  of the twentieth century, and the beginning of the twenty first century have been characterized by some severe megatrends. Examples are (1) our breathtakingly fast transition from an industrial, through a service, to an information society,

(2) the collapse of the Soviet Union and its influence on the US defense industry, 

(3) the worldwide globalization, redistribution of wealth, and increased competi-

tion with the US, (4) the insistent trend toward civil rights and equality of oppor-

tunity for US minorities, (5) the growth of terroristic attacks on the US and their 

influence  on  the  US  defense  industry,  (6)  the  effects  of  global  warming  on  pres- sures to improve clean energy use, and (7) the dramatic, continuing economic downturn and its ongoing effects on organizations and personnel.

S. R. Maddi, Hardiness, SpringerBriefs in Psychology, 

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-5222-1_9, © The Author(s) 2013




The Importance of Hardy Organizations

How Organizations Thrive in Turbulent Times Through Hardiness

The trickle-down effect of these megatrends has dramatically effected organiza- tions and the people who work in them. As companies downsize, merge, redirect their goals, go bankrupt, or otherwise reorganize, they get continually redefined.

Organizations cannot rest on their laurels, needing instead to anticipate rapidly chang-

ing markers in order to stay a step ahead of the competition, and continue to function well. Organization members are called upon to work harder and continue to develop  new skills, as rapidly advancing technologies are fueled by competition. In addition to  increasing job stress, the megatrends are also fueling an increase in the social, famil- ial, and economic stresses felt by people, as they work harder to make ends meet. For many people, the workplace is becoming a hostile environment, in which they do not feel valued, protected, or even recognized. This combination of the organization’s disregard for employees, and their resulting disloyalty, is fueling a general increase in stress leaves, and lawsuits concerning workman’s compen- sation, discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination. What is needed to counteract this unfortunate trend is the development of the work place as a healthy learning environment, in which employees feel respected, understood, and facilitated, and therefore respond with maximum effort, loyalty, and enthusiasm, regardless of how long they work at that organization. The bottom line is that organizations and the people who comprise them must accept and anticipate the rising tide of stressful changes that is taking place, and discover how to turn them to advantage with vigor and enthusiasm, rather than be debilitated, outmaneuvered, or left behind. Certainly, Hardi Individuals will be  good at this. But, in short, there is also a need for Hardi Organizations.

Culture, Climate, Structure, and Personnel of Hardy Organizations

Hardi  Organizations  have  a  characteristic  culture, climate, structure, and work- force (Maddi et al. 1999). The culture of an organization is formed from its values. The values of a Hardi Organization are isomorphic with the attitudes of individual  Hardiness.  Specifically,  the  Hardy  Attitudes  of  commitment,  control,  and  chal- lenge at the individual level correspond to the Hardy Values of cooperation, cred- ibility, and creativity at the organizational level. When individuals with a strong sense of commitment interact together, that effort goes in the direction of valuing cooperation,  as  that  which  expresses  their  group  involvement.  If  the  individuals  are also control oriented, as a group they value being credible, as that signifies taking responsibility for their actions. And, if the individuals are also challenge oriented, as a group they value creativity, as an expression of the search for inno- vative problem solutions to stressful changes affecting them all.

Culture, Climate, Structure, and Personnel of Hardy Organizations


Together, these three Cs forming the values of a Hardi Organization extend to  its target environment, mission statement, and work force. As to the target envi- ronment,  Hardi  Organizations  assume  that  it  is  the  nature  of  physical  and  social  conditions to change continuously, and that addressing this represents worth- while evolutionary progress. As to a mission statement,  Hardi  Organizations  see  that their way of excelling is based on anticipating the direction of relevant envi- ronmental and social changes, and turning them to advantage by helping to bring the change about, and improving overall living in that process. As to the work-

force, Hardi Organizations recognize it as the major asset in achieving the change-

oriented mission, and believe in both facilitating and rewarding employees for their behaviors that help fulfill this mission. Consistent  with  the  values  of  the  Hardi  Organization,  its  climate will involve “walking the talk” in a manner that forms a healthy learning environment, in which employees are expected to work together for the common good in turning ongoing changes into growth opportunities. Characteristically, employees will be  valued for energetically committing to working with changes (rather than distanc- ing from them), struggling for control over these changes (rather than sinking into powerlessness), and regarding their ensuing experiences as a developmental chal- lenge (rather than a threat to stability). The emphasis of organization members will be on perspective and understanding, and using what is learned thereby to take

decisive  actions  (rather  than  denying,  catastrophizing,  or  avoiding  problems).  In 

interacting with each other, Hardi Organization members will both want for them-

selves and the others assistance and encouragement (rather than overprotection or competition), thereby functioning as a team rather than merely self-interested individuals.  When  a  Hardi  Organization  member  exhibits  the  various  behaviors  mentioned here, the others will applaud that and use it as a model for their own advancement. The structure  of  a  Hardi  Organization  will  facilitate  the  values,  mission,  and  climate already identified. In most instances, a matrix management approach will  be taken, in which teams devoted to change-oriented projects will have a signifi- cant decision-making role. Although each team will, of course, have a leader, stra- tegic  decisions  will  tend  to  be  reached  through  mutual  discussion  influenced  by  the  relevant  expertise  of  team  members.  Once  reached,  these  decisions  will  be  reviewed by an executive committee concerned with financial, legal, and social implications of the decision, but thoroughly committed to the HardiOrganization’s  values and mission statement. The results of these reviews will be shared with the relevant teams, and may be appealed for further review. This structure is very dif- ferent from the more traditional, pyramidal model, in which there are many levels of leadership, which encourages bureaucracy. As to the makeup of personnel,  the  Hardi  Organization  will  be  comprised  of  an increasingly high proportion of Hardi Individuals. This is insured because the  usual functions of hiring and firing, promotions, gainsharing, member benefits, and  job  training  will  reflect  the  ongoing  culture,  climate,  and  structure  of  the  HardiOrganization.  Despite  the  continually  changing  work  environment,  Hardi  Individuals  will  not  wish  to  leave  employment  at  the  Hardi  Organizations  that 



The Importance of Hardy Organizations

understand and value them. But, if they are forced to leave by company reorgani-

zations, these Hardi Individuals will not go away mad, and will continue their pro-

active, innovative ways in other jobs. Indeed, they will be regarded as a valuable 

commodity by other Hardi Organizations.

What are the Advantages of Hardi Organizations?

Especially  these  days,  the  distinct  advantage  of  Hardi  Organizations  is  that,  in  tumultuously changing times, they will be especially effective in getting to the head of the pack and staying there. In other words, they will not only become, but also  remain, the leaders. As to becoming leaders, Hardi Organizations will be sensitive  to the present and future needs of their existing and potential clients, astute in eval- uating the ways in which rival organizations are trying to meet these client needs, and  both  flexible  and  incisive  in  utilizing  these  data  in  formulating  and  refining  their own strategies on an ongoing basis. When these Hardi Organizations become  leaders, they will remain in that role because their success will not lull them into complacency. Their belief in the inevitability of change and its value, expressed in every part of their culture, climate, structure, and personnel, will keep them antici- pating the future and developing the products and services to turn it to advantage. In  short,  Hardi  Organizations  will  defy  the  accepted  belief  that  is  the  nature  of even the most successful organizations to go through an early period of rapid growth, which then tapers off, and may even be followed by a decline. This taper- ing off of growth often coincides with a replacement of early entrepreneurial spirit by increasing bureaucratization, as the organization shifts from its vigorous, lean  youth  into  a  stable,  comfortable  maturity.  In  contrast,  the  maturity  of  Hardi  Organizations  continues  the  entrepreneurial  vigor  and  excitement  of  their  youth.  This  continued  vigor  stems  from  the  important  fact  that  Hardi  Organizations  are  not solely motivated by financial security. Although not indifferent to financial issues, they are especially energized and excited by the conviction that continually participating in ongoing change is of potential environmental and social value. This stance is not dulled by becoming a leader and being financially successful, as Hardi Organizations view change as continual and needing to be continually addressed. Clear examples of Hardi Organizations are Apple and Microsoft, both of which  were founded on a sense of the future as primarily about information, communi- cation, and virtual reality. Their young, entrepreneurial founders were out of the loop, uninvolved with the political and financial pillars of the country, and more influenced  by  the  pursuit  of  ideas  and  effectiveness  than  standard  products  and  profits.  Structurally,  these  companies  evolved  a  matrix  management  pattern,  and  the prevailing climate emphasized imaginativeness, initiative, and risk-taking for  individuals,  and  assistance  and  encouragement  among  teams.  Many  of  the  employees appear to have the attitudes and skills comprising hardiness. They have been a major success story of recent times, having proactively tutored a genera- tion of folks on the power of computers and cyberspace. Having handily overcome

What are the Advantages of Hardi Organizations?


the prevailing giant IBM, which was too much of a traditional bureaucracy to be 

flexible and proactive, Microsoft and Apple have risen to the top of the heap suf-

ficiently to bring concerns that they may be monopolies. That concern notwith-

standing,  these  two  companies  are  moving  on  with  ideas  and  initiatives  quite  beyond the desktop, such as the auto PC, which combines a CD player, radio, and  computer. Beyond this, the companies have ideas about how to use computer and  information technology to improve and integrate the internet, televisions, cell- phones, pads, toasters, poker machines, airport web terminals, and even washing machines. These companies are a long way from merely determining what people

know they want, and passively selling that to them. Rather, the companies are edu-

cating us all as to how computer and information technology can transform our lives. With this hardy approach, the money has just rolled in.

What are the Disadvantages of Organizations that are not Hardy?

It is nonhardy organizations that tend to emphasize the values, mission statements,  structure, climate, and personnel that have been common in less turbulent times. In that past, successful organizations became authoritarian in values, bureaucratic  in climate, h