Cognitive flexibility and resilience measured through a residual approach

Lies Notebaert, Patrick J.F. Clarke, Frances Meeten, Jemma Todd, Bram Van Bockstaele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Resilience refers to the process through which individuals show better outcomes than what would be expected based on the adversity they experienced. Several theories have proposed that variation in resilience is underpinned by cognitive flexibility, however, no study has investigated this using an outcome-based measure of resilience. Design: We used a residual-based approach to index resilience, which regresses a measure of mental health difficulties onto a measure of adversity experienced. The residuals obtained from this regression constitute how much better or worse someone is functioning relative to what is predicted by the adversity they have experienced. Methods: A total of 463 undergraduate participants completed questionnaires of mental health difficulties and adversity, as well as a number-letter task-switching task to assess cognitive flexibility. Results: Multiple regression analyses showed that better cognitive flexibility was not associated with greater resilience. Conclusions: Our findings do not support theoretical models that propose the existence of a relationship between cognitive flexibility and resilience. Future research may serve to refine the residual-based approach to measure resilience, as well as investigate the contribution of “hot” rather than “cold” cognitive flexibility to individual differences in resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 May 2024


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