Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

McCubbin, Laurie

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Valentine, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Valentine, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Mitchell, Amanda

Committee Member

Washington, Ahmad

Author's Keywords

resilience; COVID-19; social capital; anomie; social ecological resilience


From climate change to racial tension and income inequality, many difficulties face the United States and those who live within its borders. The extreme and increasing political polarization in the United States as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have only made these challenges more difficult to address. In this complex web of adversity, the concept of resilience is important to study. Resilience may be broadly defined as the ability to “bounce back” or return to adaptive functioning after experiencing significant adversity or challenges (Smith et al., 2008). Better understanding how resilience functions and the general state of resilience within the U.S. population may allow psychologists to provide better interventions and guidance to people and communities during these difficult times. A recent trend in resilience research is the use of social-ecological resilience models, which conceptualize resilience as including individual factors, external factors in an individual context, and their interaction (Ungar, 2011). However, research exploring how these external factors and their interaction with individuals relate to resilience remains limited. Given the challenges facing the United States today, social capital, anomie, and the impact of COVID-19 are examples of such external factors that appear likely to impact social-ecological resilience. This study used online survey methods to collect data from a national sample (n = 758) of the U.S. population seeking to explore the relationship between social-ecological resilience and these variables as well as SES and race. Several variables positively predicted social-ecological resilience including social capital, impact of COVID-19, and income. Anomie was found to negatively predicted social ecological resilience. Black participants also reported greater social-ecological resilience when compared to other participants and other racial differences in these variables were also identified. While this study faced some limitations, the findings underscored the importance of external factors when conceptualizing resilience. Further research is needed to further explore the relationships identified in this study and study with more diverse sample populations is needed to explore the potential impact of demographic variables upon social-ecological resilience.