Objective: Post-traumatic growth typically refers to enduring positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity, trauma, or highly challenging life circumstances. Critics have challenged insights from much of the prior research on this topic, pinpointing its significant methodological limitations. In response to these critiques, we propose that post-traumatic growth can be more accurately captured in terms of personality change—an approach that affords a more rigorous examination of the phenomenon. Method: We outline a set of conceptual and methodological questions and considerations for future work on the topic of post-traumatic growth. Results: We provide a series of recommendations for researchers from across the disciplines of clinical/counseling, developmental, health, personality, and social psychology and beyond, who are interested in improving the quality of research examining resilience and growth in the context of adversity. Conclusion: We are hopeful that these recommendations will pave the way for a more accurate understanding of the ubiquity, durability, and causal processes underlying post-traumatic growth.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This manuscript summarizes discussions at the Pathways to Character capstone conference held at the Graylyn International Conference Center, Wake Forest University on August 14th?16th 2019, and was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation (grant #60699 to Frank J. Infurna and Eranda Jayawickreme). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation. The first two authors oversaw the drafting of this paper; the other authors are listed alphabetically. The paper represents a consensus position and it should not be assumed that the authors agree with all points made in this paper. We are grateful to Jon Adler, Laura King, and Dan McAdams for the valuable feedback provided on an earlier draft of this paper.
- character change
- methodological approaches to studying adversity
- open science
- personality change
- posttraumatic growth