Initiatives & Events
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The theme of “strength from adversity” is appealing to many, and central to a number of cultural narratives. However, claims that adversity can in fact build character lacks robust empirical evidence, with many unanswered questions remaining. Do character strengths and virtues in fact grow following adversity and what are the rigorous methodological approaches for prospectively assessing potential growth? The Pathways to Character project aims to promote research that rigorously examines whether adversity, challenge, or failure can strengthen character, with a focus on the virtues of altruism, humility, gratitude, relatedness/empathy, spirituality and open-mindedness.Learn More
Although many individuals retrospectively report feeling more open-minded and receptive to new possibilities after experiencing major stressors (i.e., potentially life-altering adverse events), pertinent longitudinal studies are scarce and have yielded contradictory findings. People may involuntarily distort their perceptions to cope with difficulties. Furthermore, experimental research has shown that minor stressors (i.e., daily problems) decrease open-mindedness […]
Can exposure to adversity lead to positive outcomes and personal growth? Despite the persistent narrative of post-traumatic growth and the development of conceptual models hypothesizing the conditions leading to such growth, research reliably demonstrating positive character development following adversity has proved elusive. Much past research is limited in the way it attempts to characterize character […]
Research at ASU will examine the nature of character growth following adversity, its concordance with informant reports, the processes through which growth manifests following adversity and individuals’ characteristics that may increase or decrease one’s likelihood of experiencing character growth following adversity.
Research at WFU will combine experience sampling methodology, self- and informant-ratings and qualitative interviews to examine the relationship between retrospective self-perceived growth, growth-relevant behaviors, identity and reputation to accurately access character change following challenge and failure.
Our Project Team is an interdisciplinary group of scholars, each of them well-respected in their field, who will be a part of the grant review process and serve as a board of advisors for the Pathways to Character Project.Learn more