Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Ronald D. Coffen

Second Advisor

Carole Woolford-Hunt

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai



Despite the advancement in resilience research, and although mental health professionals are encouraged to become culturally competent, it is still unclear how I/C cultural orientation influence various protective factors that contribute to resilience. Individualists emphasize independence and autonomy while collectivists emphasize interdependence and in-group consensus (Hofstede, 1991; Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Therefore, it is expected that the protective factors that promote resilience will also operate differently for individualists as compared to collectivists (Triandis, 1995). Yet, mental health practitioners have very little information available to them to guide their intervention efforts with individualists and collectivists. When practitioners work with individuals who have experienced trauma, it is necessary that intervention strategies are aligned with clients’ subjective cultural orientation in order to prevent further injury to clients (Allen & Smith, 2015) and best promote positive outcomes. Therefore, this study was expected to clarify which protective factors are influential for individualists as compared to collectivists.


This study employed a descriptive, non-experimental, correlational, online survey research methodology to collect quantitative data. Snowball sampling was employed to recruit participants from Jamaica, Rwanda, and the U.S. The Class Climate survey link was distributed via email invitations, postings on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn), and a posting on one professional organization’s web page. Participants were required to be 18 years or older, residing in Jamaica, Rwanda, or the U.S. (natives only), and having experienced a traumatic life event. A demographics questionnaire collected relevant demographic characteristics of the sample. The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) measured lifetime experience of trauma. The Cultural Orientation Scale (COS) measured normative and evaluative cultural orientation. The Resilience Scale for Adults (RSA) and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale-25 (CD-RISC-25) spirituality scale measured resilience as a process (assessed multi-level protective factors). The Brief Resilience Scale (BRS) measured resilience as an outcome (bouncing back).


Measures of participants’ evaluative cultural orientation (ECO) showed that mostly collectivists were included in the samples from the U.S. and Jamaica. Rwanda was excluded due to unreliable ECO. Therefore, hypothesis testing was conducted only using collectivists from Jamaica and the U.S. Pearson correlation analysis showed that there was a small but significant relationship between ECO and some protective factors. ECO had the strongest correlation with spirituality. However, ECO was not significantly related to outcome resilience (BRS). Spirituality and perception of self were higher among Jamaicans than Americans. There was no difference between Jamaicans and Americans in their ability to bounce back (resilience as measured by the BRS). Perception of self was the only significant predictor of bouncing back among Jamaicans. Perception of self, social competence, social resources (inversely related), and family cohesion were significant predictors of bouncing back among Americans. Spirituality was not a significant predictor of bouncing back for either Jamaicans or Americans. Additionally, when spirituality was included in the standard regression analysis, family cohesion was no longer a significant predictor of bouncing back among Americans.


The findings showed that making assumptions about individuals’ cultural orientation and the protective factors that are likely to be most salient based on their country of residence alone can lead to erroneous and potentially harmful clinical interventions and research practices. The study’s exploration of resilience as both a process and an outcome helped to shed further light on potential best-practice for clinical interventions and future resilience research.

Subject Area

Resilience (Personality trait); Individuality; Collectivists


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