Walsh, Michaela V (2018-12). Testing a Personality-Based Model of Resilience Among Caregivers in the Midus II & III Project. Doctoral Dissertation.
Objective: (1) To investigate potential mediating effects of positive affect, social support, and coping style on relationships between resilient personality and depression and life satisfaction outcomes. (2) To test possible moderating effects of caregiver status (transitional caregivers vs. non-caregivers) on model relationships to examine adjustment to the caregiver role. Design/Setting: Participants in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) project completed telephone interviews and self-report surveys for Phase II (2006) and Phase III (2013) data collections after being recruited via random-digit phone-number dialing. The current study used this public data for structural equation modeling. Participants: 2,838 respondents from both Phase II and Phase III of the MIDUS dataset were predominantly white (93%), female (56%; 44% male), and an average of 55 years old. Measures: Items assessing Five-Factor Model personality traits were used to identify resilient and non-resilient personality prototypes. The PANAS measured positive affect. The COPE Inventory measured two coping styles (emotion-focused coping, problem-focused coping). Other MIDUS queries measured social support (from family relationships, friendships), depression symptoms, and life satisfaction. Results: Model 1 (Main Effects) - Resilient personality appeared to facilitate adjustment through hypothesized associations with higher positive affect, lower emotion-focused coping, and higher social support. Problem-focused coping results were unexpected, as it had positive direct and indirect effects on depression. Model 2 (Interaction Effects) - Similar model relationships to Model 1 occurred when these model pathways were run separately among chronic caregivers, transitional caregivers, and non-caregivers. Positive affect was the most consistently significant mediator. Moderation tests comparing non-caregivers and transitional caregivers yielded non-significant results. Conclusions: Resilient personality appears to impact psychological well-being via helpful associations with higher positive affect, greater social support, and less use of avoidant coping strategies. These relationships were stable across all three caregiver status groups, suggesting that caregiver status does not strongly impact how resilient personalities fundamentally operate. Researchers should continue defining psycho-behavioral mechanisms of resilience and developing clinical interventions for increasing positive affect and mitigating avoidant coping.