A body of data, including studies of identical twins, suggests that certain personal characteristics that foster resilience may be at least partly inherited. These traits include a temperament that leads a child to confidently take on novel tasks and interact with unfamiliar people, as well as a good-natured, sociable personality and an ability to accept yourself, including your faults. Researchers are now uncovering some of the basic biology of resilience that facilitates our adaptive responses to stress [see box on page 38].
Beyond biology, several environmental variables affect resilience, among them family support, the stability and quality of schools, and the services in and safety of a neighborhood. For example, a loner who is unemployed will have more trouble dealing with stress and trauma than a financially secure individual in a supportive family. Weak leadership in a community and insufficient first-responder and financial resources can also compromise responses to adversity.
This article was originally published with the title Ready for Anything.