Personality, Stress and Resilience: A Multifactorial Cognitive Science Perspective

Gerald Matthews, Jinchao Lin, Ryan Wohleber


Personality traits are consistently correlated with various indices of acute psychological stress response, including negative emotions and performance impairment. However, resilience is a complex personal characteristic with multiple neural and psychological roots. This article advocates a multifactorial approach to understanding resilience that recognizes the complexity of the topic both empirically and theoretically. The Trait-Stressor-Outcome (TSO) framework for organizing empirical data recognizes the multiplicity of traits, stressors and outcome metrics that may moderate stress response. Research requires a fine-grained data collection approach that discriminates multiple stress factors. Also, multiple layers of theory are necessary to explain individual differences in stress response, including biases in neural functioning, attentional processing, as well as styles of coping and emotion-regulation. Cognitive science differentiates multiple levels of explanation and allows for the integration of mechanisms at multiple levels of abstraction from the neural substrate. We illustrate the application of the multifactorial approach to collecting interpreting data on operator stress resulting from interaction with technology.


resilience; personality; stress; performance; unmanned vehicles; cognitive science; transactional model

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