Goldilocks and the Three Levels of Adversity (IO Psychology)

Topic(s): selection

Topic: Selection
Publication: Current Directions in Psychological Science (2011)
Article: Resilience: A Silver Lining to Experiencing Adverse Life Events?
Authors: Mark Seery
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.

What is the right amount of adversity? Is it best to have a carefree life that minimizes stress and allows the person to focus on his or her job? Could a life filled with adversity build character and enable the person to function better in an unpredictable work environment? Or is something in between the best choice, where there is not too little or too much adversity and the amount is just right?

In addressing this Goldilocks dilemma, Seery (2011) reviewed the literature on several studies that examined adversity, resilience, performance, and level of functioning. It was found that individuals who had a history of some adversity had better outcomes than those who had lots and minimal amounts of adversity.

Employers might want to consider this information when deciding which employees to select. In addition to educational background, previous work experience, and letters of recommendation, an applica