Civic Virtues, Wisdom, and Psychological Resilience

Abstract: Psychological resilience refers to the ability to mitigate the psychological impact of adverse life events and to rebound from the impact of such events. As such, it is an important aspect of human flourishing. However, everyone faces challenges of different kinds and varying severity, and there are large individual differences in ability to respond to these challenges in adaptive ways. Psychological resilience may depend on strong social connections, and to the extent that moral and civic virtues strengthen our commitment to such connections, such virtues may also contribute to resilience. However, there may be situations in which strong social connections undermine resilience, or where the threat to the connection itself impedes functioning. For example, when interpersonal and intergroup conflicts arise, navigating the difficulties posed by conflicting goals, virtues, and interests may pose fundamental challenges to psychological well-being. In this chapter, we suggest that wise reasoning can provide flexibility in adapting to adverse situations including those in which virtues are in conflict, thereby leading to greater resilience. We examine how civic virtues and wisdom may play different roles in psychological resilience, especially in the face of societal challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and growing political polarization.

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Kim, Y., Boulware, J. N., Nusbaum, H. C., & Henly, A. (2024). Civic virtues, wisdom, and psychological resilience in N. E. Snow (Ed). The Self, Civic Virtue, and Public Life (pp 21-36). Routledge.