2 MIN READ | Positive Psychology

The Role of Adversity Quotient in Dealing with Everyday Challenges

Dennis Relojo-Howell

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Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2016, June 6). The Role of Adversity Quotient in Dealing with Everyday Challenges. Psychreg on Positive Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/adversity-quotient/
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I have always been interested about how people’s spirituality influences how they cope with adversities. I previously did a research which explored the role of adversity quotient (AQ) and spiritual quotient (SQ) in improving well-being.

In particular, 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. 

AQ strikes me as a very interesting concept – Some people are seemed 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 without realising their potential.

The term adversity quotient is coined by Paul Stoltz 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 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 characterised AQ as being about how you respond to life, especially the tough stuff. It is a 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. Also, 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 by 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-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He is also the editor-in-chief of Psychreg Journal Psychology, and writes a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today. 

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