Hardiness Development In Adolescents At Social Risk Group


Research results for the approaches to understanding the essence of the “hardiness” concept from the point of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral approaches are presented. The author's “hardiness” definition is stated. The internal hardiness formation factors – the state of health, nervous balance/exhaustion, high/low motivation, ability to work, satisfaction/dissatisfaction with events, involvement/indifference in activities, viable/destructive lifestyle. External hardiness formation factors are identified in three areas of adolescent life: family factors, school factors, and media factors. Their influence on the hardiness formation in adolescents at risk is described. Psychological and pedagogical conditions for the hardiness development are justified and proposed, including the research of internal and external factors that promote/hinder the hardiness development; preventive activities aimed at strengthening the external factors positive influence and minimizing the negative ones; hardiness development psychological and pedagogical support, implemented through the adolescents inclusion in various activities that contribute to the moral norms and values internalization, socially oriented behavior development, introduction to a healthy lifestyle; decision-making skills in difficult situations development, communication skills formation.

Keywords: “Hardiness” concept, social risk group, adolescents


Interest to the hardiness problem as a person's ability to withstand various challenges of the surrounding reality has existed since ancient times. The first researchers of this problem were the stoic philosophers Aurelius (1993), Khramov and Eleisky (1989), Seneca (2018), Epictetus (2017), who proved the natural conformity of man's relationship to occurring life events in the development of which he is not able to affect. Stoics education basis was the ability to make choices, to be guided by reason, not emotions, to take responsibility for solving difficult life situations. In the future, the Stoicism doctrine went beyond philosophy and developed in other sciences – anthropology, sociology, psychology, and pedagogy. The term “hardiness” as a characteristic of human activity in the conditions of changes, difficulties, obstacles was introduced by Maddi (2007). She saw the main function of hardiness in the ability of a person to act in the face of change in accordance with their beliefs. Attaching great importance to the belief for the hardiness development, Maddi (2007) identified three of its components - the belief in the need for maximum involvement in activities, the belief in the need to fight, the belief in the need to take risks.

The appeal to the hardiness problem pedagogical aspect is due to the need to develop the person ability to live and act in the conditions of rapid changes in the political, economic, and social spheres of human life. Hardiness development in adolescents at risk groups is particularly relevant, since the socialization of orphans, children from disadvantaged families, deviants and delinquents is difficult due to the reduced ability to adapt to changing conditions, to act in difficult situations, to resist various stressors.

Problem Statement

In this research, the problem of the hardiness study is considered from several positions. Scientifically interesting is “hardiness” concept essence clarification, on the content of which there is no single point of view with a sufficiently large number of studies; hardiness structural components definition; the development of a criteria base and diagnostic tools for its qualitative and/or quantitative measurement. It is equally important to identify the hardiness phenomenon place in the terminological field of similar concepts – viability, personal adaptive potential, psychological stability, etc. We consider the research of the external and internal factors that determine it, one of which is education, to be a significant aspect of the problem of hardiness development. It requires scientific analysis and the possibility of technologizing the hardiness development in the educational process of educational organizations.

Research Questions

Logically follow from the problem of hardiness phenomenon analysis and its development relevance for the social risk group children. The first issue of the study is the clarification of hardiness concept essence and content, the identification of logical and semantic connections with similar definitions. The second issue raised in this study concerns the identification and analysis of factors for the hardiness formation. The third issue involves gaining new knowledge about the structural components and manifestations of hardiness in adolescents, which can be measured by empirical methods. The fourth issue of this study is related to the substantiation of psychological and pedagogical conditions for the hardiness development in adolescents of the social risk group, which can include orphans, adolescents from dysfunctional families, deviants and delinquents.

Purpose of the Study

Theoretical and methodological research of the “hardiness” phenomenon, the possibility of technologizing the hardiness development in adolescents at social risk groups.

Research Methods

In this study, we used a set of interrelated theoretical and empirical methods that are adequate to the essential “hardiness” phenomenon characteristics.

To develop the first study issue about the essential hardiness characteristics, comparative analysis method of various approaches to its understanding was used. Supporters of the first approach Maddi and Kobase ( as cited in Maddi, 2007), Bogomaz (2008), Odintsova (2015) and others see hardiness as a system of beliefs, views of the person about himself, about the environment and your relationship with it. According to this approach, hardiness is a “personal attitudes conglomerate”, a kind of personality cognitive model based on a belief system and allowing a person to resolve difficult life situations through risk analysis, predicting consequences, using a specific skills and abilities combination. According to the cognitive approach proponents, the characteristics of a person's internal beliefs guide his behavior and are the determining tactical factor in a difficult situation. Hardiness development researchers have found that adolescents’ internal beliefs are associated with personally significant values and meanings, determining the development of normative or deviant behavior (Grigorieva, 2019).

Supporters of the second approach Grigorieva (2019), Dolzhenko (2011), Vanakova (2014) inclined to consider hardiness as the ability to sense perception of the world, the emotional-volitional self-regulation of behavior, reflection, emotional coping with situations of high complexity, which provides the output for the threatening circumstances with minimal losses. According to the emotional model of hardiness, people with a high level of hardiness are cheerful, sociable, independent in overcoming difficulties, are distinguished by stress resistance, strong will. Hardiness emotional model proponents emphasize the relationship between an adequate perception and understanding of events happening to a person with an emotional reaction to them. In other words, an emotional harmonious state contributes to the person's hardiness development, and hardiness supports his psychological health, positively affects his performance, social inclusion. Focusing on negative emotional experiences caused by a stressful event, on the contrary, hinders coping with difficult life situations and reduces the quality of hardiness.

According to the third approach to hardiness understanding, its essence is identified with the ability to manage a situation of increased complexity, to overcome life difficulties by attracting internal and external resources, with the ability to transform negative conditions into positive ones. The hardiness behavioral model proponents consider it in close connection with the existing experience of resolving difficult life situations, but emphasize that a person in the process of accumulating this experience remains faithful to his own belief system, personally significant values and interests. For example, in the research of Chukhrova et al. (2018) it is shown that hardiness has a beneficial effect on resisting stress factors, for example, coping with the manifestation of aggression by transferring energy to a productive channel.

The logical and semantic analysis method allowed us to identify the place of the definition of “hardiness” in the conceptual field of similar concepts. Such a close concept is “viability”, which characterizes the orientation of the individual to survive in the rapidly changing socio-cultural conditions of the surrounding reality. A person with vitality is able to maintain stability in changing circumstances dictated by changes in the internal and external environment. Viability in relation to hardiness is a broader concept and has three aspects of manifestations: biological, psychological, and social. Thus, viability in the biological sense is responsible for the survival of the organism in the conditions of the natural and climatic environment and viable offspring; in the psychological sense, viability provides resistance to the influence of society and the processes developing in it; the social manifestation of viability is manifested in the individuals’ internal resources implementation that contribute to the development of society (Babochkin, 2000). Hardiness is associated with another concept-life creation, which, according to Leontiev (2002), contributes to the survival of a person in the surrounding world, since it shifts his attention from internal experiences to the external structure of the surrounding reality. In this sense, life creation also goes beyond the limits of hardiness, since it contributes not only to the survival of a person, but also to his consciousness expansion, his place determination in the world. Another concept close in meaning to hardiness, we consider “psychological stability”, which is understood by M. Tyshkova as personality characteristic feature, contributing to the invulnerability of the external circumstances negative impact. According to the scientist, psychological stability is determined by nervous system characteristics, accumulated personal experience, formed behavioral skills. The following similarity of the concept of hardiness we found with the term “personal adaptive potential” as the ability of an individual to adapt to the changing circumstances of his life under the influence of external conditions. Maklakov (2001) includes tolerance to stress, adequate self-esteem, experience of social interaction, contributing to a correct understanding of the circumstances and their capabilities in the content of the personal potential. As it can be seen from the description, adaptive personal potential can be considered as an integral part of individual’s hardiness. Other concepts close to hardiness are behavior style characteristics, the level of individual subjectivity, self-attitude, etc., a detailed consideration of which is not possible in this work.

The search for an answer to the second issue of the study about the hardiness determinants was carried out by factor analysis method, during which internal and external factors were identified, and by the experiment method, which allowed us to obtain empirical data on the external factors influence on the hardiness development in adolescents at risk. First, consider the internal factors. The first of them is the so-called “innate vulnerability”, under which Maddi and Kobeysa (as cited in Maddi, 2007); imply a hereditary factor that characterizes the human nervous system, which produces increased anxiety, frustration, uncertainty in their own capabilities, etc.). Another internal hardiness factor is the ability to mobilize their mental and physical resources in a critical situation. This ability, in turn, correlates with the strong-willed qualities of the individual, since they are vital in difficult situations. Hardiness is also provided by such internal factors as health status, nervous balance/exhaustion, high/low motivation, ability to work, satisfaction/dissatisfaction with events, involvement/indifference in activities, resilient/destructive lifestyle. External hardiness formation factors were identified in three areas of adolescents life, which we identified as family, school, and media. Based on this, three groups of external factors were identified: family factors, school factors, and media factors.

The group of family factors included parents’ alcohol or drug addiction presence/absence, moral/immoral and/or dependent lifestyle; intra-family conflicts presence/absence; abuse in the family presence/absence (physical, mental, sexual violence, neglect of the needs of the child); parental control; family lifestyle. In the course of experimental group families study, manifestations in adolescents were recorded, indicating low hardiness. These teenagers gain early experience of using drugs, and there are frequent cases of distribution among the peers for money, which is then spent on the purchase of alcohol, cigarettes, and narcotic drugs. The development of other addictions – alcohol, tobacco, and gambling-has also been established. In addition, early onset of sexual activity, promiscuous sexual relations were recorded (Yakovleva & Faizullina, 2020).

Children who are victims of abuse in their families against others are themselves a source of aggression, which is expressed in violent fights, humiliations and insults of both peers and adults. The study showed that children of criminal parents are several times more likely to commit offenses compared to children from law-abiding families. Children from families with a socially closed lifestyle experience pronounced difficulties in communicating with other people and often become objects of authoritarian or directive influence. Dependent parents from an early age instill in their children the experience of dependent life at the expense of the state and caring people. Therefore, teenagers have vague ideas about their future profession, low motivation to learn, do not study well, violate school discipline, and conflict with teachers and educators.

In the group of external factors related to school, we included the intragroup status of a teenager in the classroom; positive or negative social stigmatization; relationships with classmates, the presence/absence of bullying; relationships with teachers; friends-classmates behavior sociality/asociality (use of alcohol, drugs, committing offenses). Low intragroup status was revealed in the ratio of classmates to the risk group adolescents from the experimental group. It was found that there are no leaders among them, two-thirds occupy a middle-status position, a third – a low-status position. Unsociable, timid children were ignored and isolated, aggressive children were boycotted by their classmates. There is evidence that adolescents are exposed to social stigmatization – “hanging” labels, offensive nicknames, nicknames indicating social disadvantage, failure, nationality: “beggar”, “stupid”, “Yankee” and others. Stigmatization of low-status children was often accompanied by bullying with the use of emotional pressure, physical torture. The methods of bullying were very diverse: offensive notes, damage to clothes and textbooks, public bullying. There were cases when teenagers were dirty with mud, pushed into pits from which they could not get out on their own, and publicly undressed. Bullying victims rarely complained about their abusers and hid what was happening from their parents and teachers. Some of them stopped going to school, and several suicide attempts were recorded. Others found antisocial alternatives to learning, such as becoming members of criminal groups in which they did not feel excluded (Yakovleva & Faizullina, 2020).

We have included the mass media, including the Internet and social networks, in the group of external factors. Negative factors for the formation of hardiness are viewing scenes of violence, cyberbullying, involving teenagers in violent and life-threatening games in virtual and reality; recruitment to banned organizations and communities. For example, it was found that adolescents at risk of the experimental group not only viewed and commented on the exposed videos that depict bullying of children and adults, but also themselves videotaped fights, cases of humiliation for further posting on Internet sites in order to receive “likes” - the approval from other subscribers. Every third member of the experimental group was subjected to cyberbullying. These were offensive and mocking entries on the “wall” in social contacts, the placement of deliberately false information, dislikes. As observations have shown, the negative consequences of cyberbullying are suspicion, self-doubt, suppression of strong-willed qualities, and social lack of initiative. The data obtained indicate that there were attempts in the Internet space to involve adolescents of the experimental group in violent and life-threatening games, in which participation was carried out both in virtual and reality. Examples of such life-threatening games were the game “Dog High”, during which a player is briefly strangled by another participant; the game “Disappear for 24 hours”, in which children leave the house without warning, blocking all means of communication with it, and then post a report on their “adventures” on the network (Yakovleva & Faizullina, 2020). It was also found that the active and uncontrolled use of Internet sites by children in some cases led to online communication with criminals, who first built a friendly communication with the object of their illegal intentions, and then recruited children in prohibited organizations. So, for example, several people were recruited to the “AUE” organization (“Prisoner Thief Unity”), whose activities were aimed at creating gang groups consisting of minors (Yakovleva & Faizullina, 2020).

Thus, the factor analysis showed that the pedagogical “targets” in hardiness development in adolescents at social risk are internal and external factors that can both favorably and adversely affect the difficult life situations resilient perception. Researchers consider children and adolescents the most sensitive age for the formation of hardiness. This observation opens up opportunities for pedagogical influence on the hardiness development in a purposeful educational process.

The solution of the third study issue, related to obtaining new knowledge about the structural components and hardiness manifestations in adolescents, which can be measured by empirical methods, was carried out by the structural and functional analysis method. The qualities and traits that form the structure of hardiness. Among them are:

  • adequate assessment and acceptance of reality;
  • the ability to see meaning in various human life spheres;
  • high adaptability, manifested in the developed communication skills that ensure the use of communication methods adequate to the communication situation;
  • self-confidence, optimism, helping to overcome the difficulties that arise;
  • self-independence in decision-making;
  • the ability to “hold the punch” and not be influenced by others;
  • striving for achievements and success in various fields of activity – education, creativity, sports, etc.;
  • the ability to transform the surrounding reality; The success achieved not only inspires children, but also gives them confidence that they are able to transform the reality around them;
  • trusting relationships with a close circle of friends and relatives.

According to researches, resilient people are able to take a pragmatic approach to conditions and circumstances, are able to make non-trivial solutions to emerge problems, taking into account their own resources and social norms and rules adopted in society. Along with the positive relationship of hardiness with purposefulness, initiative, independence, confidence and other qualities, a negative one was also revealed. Thus, hardiness does not correlate with rigidity and emotivity, since these personality traits not only do not contribute to a person's exit from a difficult life situation, but also are a barrier to coping with obstacles. As can be seen from the above data, researchers include cognitive, emotional-volitional, and behavioral components in the structure of hardiness. However, we were not able to find a pedagogical diagnosis of hardiness that has internal consistency, reliability, validity and ease of use, which poses the task of developing diagnostic tools.

The search for an answer to the question about the possibility of technologizing the hardiness education process was carried out by the design method, during which the psychological and pedagogical conditions for hardiness education were justified and proposed. As the first psychological and pedagogical condition, we consider the analysis of internal and external factors that promote/hinder the hardiness development. The analysis includes the diagnosis of adolescents current hardiness state, the study of the influence of family, school, mass media by pedagogical observation methods, introspection, reflection, etc. The second condition is preventive activities aimed at strengthening the positive influence of external factors and minimizing the negative. It includes educational and advisory work with parents and teachers, the study of social contacts of adolescents in social networks, etc. The third condition for the hardiness development, we consider its psychological and pedagogical support of education, implemented through the inclusion of adolescents in various activities that contribute to the moral norms and values interiorization, the socially oriented behavior development; healthy lifestyle introduction, decision-making skills in difficult situations development, communication skills formation.


Clarification of the concept of “hardiness” essence and content has shown that there are three models in science: cognitive, considering hardiness as a set of beliefs and personal attitudes; emotional, reflecting the understanding of hardiness as the ability to sense the world, emotional-volitional self-regulation of behaviour, reflection, emotional coping with situations of increased complexity; behavioural, describing hardiness through practical experience of solving complex life situations. In the author's understanding, all three approaches are synthesized and hardiness is presented as the ability of adolescents to overcome life difficulties, manifested in moral stability, the ability to resist the negative impact of social risk factors, courage and perseverance in realizing their goals. Logical and semantic connections with similar definitions-viability, life creation, psychological stability, personal adaptive potential, stylistic characteristics of behaviour, the level of subjectivity of the individual, self – attitude, etc. - are revealed. Hardiness is determined by internal and external factors. Internal factors include health status, motivation, ability to work, satisfaction/dissatisfaction with events, involvement/indifference in activities, and lifestyle. Family factors, school factors, and mass media factors that can both favourably and adversely affect the resilient perception of difficult life situations are identified as external factors in the formation of hardiness. The “lacuna” of scientific knowledge associated with the lack of pedagogical diagnostics of hardiness, which has internal consistency, reliability, validity and ease of use, is revealed, which sets the task of its development. Psychological and pedagogical conditions for the development of hardiness are justified and proposed, including the analysis of internal and external factors that promote/hinder the development of hardiness; preventive activities aimed at strengthening the positive influence of external factors and minimizing the negative; psychological and pedagogical support of education, implemented through the inclusion of adolescents in various activities that contribute to the moral norms and values interiorization, socially oriented behaviour development, healthy lifestyle introduction, decision-making skills in difficult situations development; communication skills formation.


Let’s analyze the presented data from the point of their scientific novelty and bifurcation points for further research. The research attempts to substantiate the “hardiness” concept relevance which is unusual for pedagogical science, for solving the problems of educating adolescents at social risk, who are extremely poorly socialized in society. However, its introduction into the everyday life of pedagogical theory requires a deeper theoretical analysis from the point of interdisciplinary research, methodological justification of hardiness as one of the goals of education.

The research highlights the structural components of hardiness, but their validity has yet to be confirmed (or disproved) in the course of empirical studies. It is necessary to develop and test diagnostic tools for studying the hardiness of children of different ages, to prepare methodological recommendations for its use for teachers and psychologists. Additional research is also needed to obtain empirical data on the mechanisms of the formation of hardiness, on the influence of external and internal factors on its formation and development, on the search, design and testing of the effectiveness of conditions, tools and methods for the formation of hardiness in modern children and adolescents. The question of the peculiarities of the formation of hardiness in adolescents of the social risk group in comparison with adolescents of normal social development remains incomplete and open, which poses the task of further research.


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25 September 2021

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Economics, social trends, sustainability, modern society, behavioural sciences, education

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Furyaeva, T. V., Yakovleva, N. F., & Fayzullina, K. A. (2021). Hardiness Development In Adolescents At Social Risk Group. In I. V. Kovalev, A. A. Voroshilova, & A. S. Budagov (Eds.), Economic and Social Trends for Sustainability of Modern Society (ICEST-II 2021), vol 116. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1586-1594). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.09.02.177