Cover: Psychological Fitness and Resilience

Psychological Fitness and Resilience

A Review of Relevant Constructs, Measures, and Links to Well-Being

Published Mar 11, 2014

by Sean Robson


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Research Questions

  1. What are the most important constructs for psychological fitness in the scientific literature?
  2. Is there any evidence to suggest that interventions to promote psychological fitness may be beneficial?
  3. What specific psychological resources can promote resilience?

This report is one of a series designed to support Air Force leaders in promoting resilience among its Airmen, civilian employees, and Air Force family members. It examines the relationship between psychological fitness and resilience, using key constructs found in the scientific literature that address self-regulation, positive affect, perceived control, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and optimism. Supporting or increasing the levels of the key measures of psychological fitness identified in this report may facilitate resilience and can protect Airmen, civilian employees, and Air Force families from the negative effects of stress. The report also reviews construct measures, well-being, and resilience outcomes as well as interventions designed to promote the psychological fitness constructs.

Key Findings

Psychological fitness is a key factor that can affect an individual's resilience and readiness to perform military duties

  • Being psychologically unfit may prevent an individual from adequately coping with the stress of military duty.
  • There is a clear relationship between psychological resources and resilience.
  • There is no single best approach for promoting psychological fitness.
  • Limited evidence suggests that stress management and psychological skills training are effective strategies for promoting psychological fitness.


  • Additional research is needed to determine how effective specific interventions might be within the Air Force.
  • The types of stressors commonly experienced in the Air Force should be identified.
  • The Air Force should explore opportunities to promote psychological resources that increase resilience.
  • Psychological fitness should be monitored using valid and reliable measures.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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