Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

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Accepted version

Morrison, R., & Pidgeon, A. M. (2017). Cultivating resilience and self-control among university students: An experimental study. Universal Journal of Psychology, 5(1), 1-7.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


2332-3477 (Print), 2332-3485 (Online)


University Students report a range of demands such as academic responsibilities, financial pressures or developing new social networks to be major sources of stress. The literature demonstrates that university students report higher levels of psychological distress compared to the general population. Therefore, the cultivation of resilience and self-control among university students could result in many benefits. Resilience is the ability to adapt successfully to stress and adversity, while self-control is the ability to resist short-term desires in order to meet long-term goals. This experimental study examined the efficacy of using brief willpower strengthening exercises to enhance resilience, self-control, and reduce psychological distress in university students. Forty-six university students were randomised into one of two groups: Willpower Strengthening Group or the Control Group. A two-way repeated MANOVA revealed that university students in the Willpower Strengthening Group reported significantly higher levels of resilience and self-control, and significantly lower levels of psychological distress. The positive feedback and high rate of compliance reported by students to the exercises as per instructions (i.e. every hour, for six hours per day, over seven days) supports the feasibility of using willpower strengthening exercises in programs aimed at increasing resilience. Future research into the feasibility and effectiveness of willpower strengthening exercises has the potential to improve the psychological wellbeing of university students.



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