426 Crisis & Resilience

Research by Fredrickson, BarbaraL., Tugade, MicheleM., Waugh, ChristianE., & Larkin, GregoryR. (2003)

Written by Robin N. Fatovic B.S.

Why do we study psychology? Maybe we can learn something to help us with COVID-19 or any crisis!

Researchers assessed whether positive people are more resilient, or can bounce back easier, during crises. In early 2001, college students and recent graduates participated in a study on emotions. After 9/11, 47 of the participants came back to describe their reactions to the crisis.

Results? Participants who expressed more positive emotions before the attack were less likely to develop depression after. After the crisis, those who identified as resilient,reported positive emotions such as gratitude, interest in the world, and love. While they still experienced the negative impact of 9/11, they bounced back quicker. They felt more optimistic, peaceful, and satisfied with life.

Use these findings to help cope with the pandemic. What can encourage positive emotions and resilience? Find meaning in a negative situation, appreciate other’s heroic acts and courage, and assist and care for others. Let’s focus on our values to guide us to meaning. Discover positives in negative or neutral events. Identify needs and help others. These can help us through these difficult times.


Fredrickson, B. L., Tugade, M. M., Waugh, C. E., & Larkin, G. R. (2003). What good are positive emotions in crisis? A prospective study of resilience and emotions following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 365–376. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.365

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