Post-traumatic growth as positive personality change: Challenges, opportunities, and recommendations

Eranda Jayawickreme, Frank J. Infurna, Kinan Alajak, Laura E.R. Blackie, William J. Chopik, Joanne M. Chung, Anna Dorfman, William Fleeson, Marie J.C. Forgeard, Patricia Frazier, R. Michael Furr, Igor Grossmann, Aaron S. Heller, Odilia M. Laceulle, Richard E. Lucas, Maike Luhmann, Gloria Luong, Laurien Meijer, Kate C. McLean, Crystal L. ParkAnn Marie Roepke, Zeina al Sawaf, Howard Tennen, Rebecca M.B. White, Renée Zonneveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Objective: Post-traumatic growth typically refers to enduring positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity, trauma, or highly challenging life circumstances. Critics have challenged insights from much of the prior research on this topic, pinpointing its significant methodological limitations. In response to these critiques, we propose that post-traumatic growth can be more accurately captured in terms of personality change—an approach that affords a more rigorous examination of the phenomenon. Method: We outline a set of conceptual and methodological questions and considerations for future work on the topic of post-traumatic growth. Results: We provide a series of recommendations for researchers from across the disciplines of clinical/counseling, developmental, health, personality, and social psychology and beyond, who are interested in improving the quality of research examining resilience and growth in the context of adversity. Conclusion: We are hopeful that these recommendations will pave the way for a more accurate understanding of the ubiquity, durability, and causal processes underlying post-traumatic growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-165
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This manuscript summarizes discussions at the Pathways to Character capstone conference held at the Graylyn International Conference Center, Wake Forest University on August 14th–16th 2019, and was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation (grant #60699 to Frank J. Infurna and Eranda Jayawickreme). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC


  • adversity
  • character change
  • methodological approaches to studying adversity
  • open science
  • personality change
  • posttraumatic growth


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