Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Nathan Bowling (Committee Member), Melissa Gruys (Committee Member), David Lahuis (Committee Member), Debra Steele-Johnson (Advisor)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Individual resilience is popular topic whereby researchers attempt to identify characteristics of individuals who react positively to stress. However, such research uses a reactionary approach, attempting to characterize successful individuals after they experience adversity and does not explain why some individuals proactively seek out challenging circumstances. Pursuing challenge is a new construct that explains why individuals proactively increase stress as a strategic mechanism for developmental purposes. I developed and validated a measurement tool for pursuing challenge in multiple studies. Additionally, I explored relationships between pursuing challenge and similar constructs (e.g., grit, proactive personality, and self-efficacy), as well as the extent to which pursing challenge accounted for unique variance in performance outcomes using correlational and regression analyses. Pursuing challenge demonstrated consistent relationships with resilience, need for achievement, proactive personality, self-efficacy, and grit, and accounted for unique variance in performance outcomes. Results indicated three implications for research on resilience and performance include: 1) the need for a proactive perspective to examine individual resilience and performance in stressful situations, 2) pursuing challenge captures unique characteristics of resilience and performance, and 3) individuals who pursue challenge demonstrated consistent personality traits that crossed boundary conditions of the Big Five personality domains.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded