As part of my research project for my master’s degree at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, I explored the role of adversity quotient (AQ) and spiritual quotient (SQ) in improving well-being. More specifically, I was drawn into studying adversity quotient because well-being and resilience are important in preventing the onset of mental health problems as well as potentially lessening the severity of existing mental health problems.
As much as I would love to talk about these two quotients, I will just deal with AQ, for the meantime ( I will write a separate article for SQ, so keep posted).
AQ strikes me as a very interesting concept: some people seem to be born with the ability to overcome setbacks with relative ease. It’s a trait that experts refer to as resilience. While there are some people who seem to least understand and accept when a sudden problem arises. Instead of dealing with it, they hardly find solutions and tend to give up with realising their potential.
The term adversity quotient is coined by Paul Stotz in 1997 in his pioneering book Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities. AQ is a score that measures the ability of a person to deal with adversities in his or her life. Hence, it is commonly known as the science of resilience. To quantify adversity quotient, Stoltz developed an assessment method called the Adversity Response Profile (ARP). Stoltz characterises AQ as being about how you respond to life, especially the tough stuff. It is a gauge or measure of how you respond and deal with everything, from everyday hassles to the big adversities that life can spring on you. It is also an established science, theory and approach for becoming measurably more resilient. The more resilient you are, the more effectively and constructively you respond to life’s difficulties, and the more fulfilling life becomes.
When it comes to dealing with everyday challenges, or even catastrophic one, I think AQ is a more powerful coping mechanism than IQ. PEAK Learning describes AQ as the bedrock of human endeavour, and claims that enhancing AQ can result to gains in productivity, capacity, performance, innovation and morale. And the good news is that just like IQ, AQ could also be improved.
One tip that I have come across with in enhancing our AQ is through getting feedback from people. Todd Mayfield advises to ‘pray and process about what adverse circumstances drag you down. Think through how you can interrupt your fixed response patterns. Left unchecked, these patterns will remain with you for a lifetime.’
Mayfield’s advice makes sense because through getting feedback from other people we learn how to ‘polish’ ourselves, and makes us better in coping with next challenges that we will face with. Mayfield further explains that, ‘we respond to adversity in constant, subconscious patterns. We have to receive feedback from others and give ourselves transparent feedback to become more self-aware about our lacking adversity quotient. Once you realise and identify how you respond to adversity, and what types of adversity you respond poorly too, you can ‘interrupt’ your pattern of response.’
I have personally taken an AQ test which revealed that I have a fairly good AQ score. I may complain a lot when the going gets tough, but I put up with it and persevere. What about you, what do you think about your own AQ? Do you have tips on how to improve AQ score?
Dennis Relojo is the Founder of Psychreg, and is the Editor-in-Chief of Psychreg Journal of Psychology. He also serves as editorial board member for a number of peer-reviewed journals and writes articles for the American Psychological Association’s education blog Psych Learning Curve. A Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society, Dennis holds a master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Hertfordshire and his research interest lies in the broad area of applied psychology. You can connect with him through Twitter @DennisRelojo and his website.