A pioneering study by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers uncovers the intricate relationship between inhibitory control (IC), mood fluctuations, and psychological resilience, also known as the ability to adapt to adversity.
The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, indicates that psychological resilience plays a pivotal role as a moderator between momentary inhibitory control and mood dynamics. Inhibitory control, also known as response inhibition, involves the ability to think before reacting by controlling our automatic urges (attention, behaviour, thoughts, and emotions).
“This research is the first of its kind to investigate daily variations in IC performance concerning resilience,” says Professor Nor Nahum of the Hebrew University School of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine. “It shows that the association between IC and mood is distinctly influenced by an individual’s baseline resilience levels, offering profound insights into resilient behaviour in everyday life and a novel understanding of resilience mechanisms.”
The study was conducted in a unique field setting with 144 female and male soldiers during basic combat training in Israel. Participants used a smartphone app to report their momentary emotional state alongside short inhibitory control assessments twice daily following baseline measurements.
The researchers uncovered a significant correlation: heightened IC performance was directly linked to an improved mood. However, this positive influence on momentary mood was exclusively observed among individuals who initially reported higher psychological resilience levels.
“These findings significantly bolster cognitive control models of resilience, which, to our knowledge, were only tested in lab settings,” says Prof. Gilboa, also of the Hebrew University School of Occupational Therapy. “Here, we tested them repeatedly in field settings. Understanding how psychological resilience intertwines with cognitive processes in daily life can reshape our comprehension of resilient behaviour, offering potential pathways for real-life applications from mental health interventions to stress management strategies.”
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s premier academic and research institution. Serving over 23,000 students from 80 countries, the university produces nearly 40% of Israel’s civilian scientific research and has received over 11,000 patents. Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal.