Research

A Matter of Time: A Study on Emotional Character Growth in the Aftermath of Adversity

A matter of time: A study on emotional character growth in the aftermath of adversity Around the world, the number of people who seek or have refugee status is increasing. Within Europe, over 500,000 individuals sought asylum in 2014, and this number grew to more than 1.2 million in 2016. Many of these people have been exposed to major, lifechanging adversity. Although adversity is linked to unfavourable outcomes, it is also thought to promote character growth. Here, we investigate how emotions support this character growth. For instance, compassion motivates selflessness and awe generates humility. Yet, we know little about how adversity generates strength of character through emotions. We will examine the role of adversity in character growth by following a sample of young adults who seek or have refugee status and a sample of young adults from the general population. Specifically, we will identify the emotional processes that underlie character strengths and their development, and explore how character growth unfolds longitudinally using ecologically valid methods (e.g., experience sampling and the Electronically Activated Recorder). This work offers insights that will advance research on the development of character. Importantly, it can ultimately help individuals who seek or have refugee status thrive, as well as others who have faced severe adversity.