Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Open Access Thesis


The purpose of the current study was to investigate resilience in relation to personality, social support, and cortisol levels in response to a stress induction in a sample of 174 undergraduate students. It was hypothesized that resilience would be positively related to personality traits and perceived social support, and also would predict cortisol levels at baseline, reactivity to stress induction, and recovery after stress induction. Additionally, exploratory analyses investigated the moderating effects between variables to explain the process of resilience further. Participants completed self-report questionnaires (i.e. the CD-RISC, BFI, and the MPSS), provided saliva samples via a passive drool collection test, and underwent a stress induction (i.e. the TSST). Results showed that resilience was significantly positively correlated with social support and four of the personality traits including extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness and conscientiousness. The analyses of resilience and cortisol level yielded a more complex relation than the initial assumptions. Higher levels of extraversion and higher levels of resilience together predicted the lower levels of cortisol reactivity; however, the moderation analysis also indicated that for those low in extraversion, higher resiliency was associated with higher levels of cortisol reactivity. Further, lower levels of resilience and emotional stability predicted a lower cortisol reactivity. This indicates that the protective effect of resilience can present differently depending on the individual. For example, if the individual has maladaptive personality traits (e.g. low extraversion and low emotional stability), resilience may protect against a blunted cortisol response. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Seong-In Choi, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 60 pages)



File Format


Available for download on Thursday, December 10, 2020