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By Zainub Jada
26 March 2022


Are development quotients a generational thing? You know I.Q., E.Q., and now we have A.Q.

For a long time, people believed that there was only one measurement of intelligence, and that was the intelligence quotient or I.Q.

Then, Millennials came and were raised believing that more than their intelligence, it was how they handled their emotions that were more important; hence, we have the emotional quotient or E.Q. If you search on Google, you will find a lot of literature that says E.Q. is more important than I.Q.

But there is another quotient that seriously needs a spotlight these days: the adversity quotient or A.Q.


If the emotional quotient is one’s ability to handle emotions well, then the adversity quotient is the ability to handle adversities well. If A.Q. sounds like resilience, that’s because it is. It is one of the most sought-after characteristics of a person in many industries. It is known by many other names: grit, backbone, fortitude, persistence, tenacity, and self-sufficiency. Unlike I.Q. and E.Q., employers associate A.Q. with stability, strength, and power.

  • AQ is a score that measures a person’s ability to deal with adversities in their In other words, it can be the measure of “Resilience”.
  • A measure devised by a group of scientists to see how an individual reacts or behaves when faced with a challenge of adversity in life.

Paul Stoltz coined the term in 1997 in his book Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities.


Having a strong AQ is important for well-being and prevents mental health problems. There are also claims that enhancing AQ can result in productivity, capacity, performance, innovation, and morale gains.

AQ essentially is age-irrelevant. Even though you cannot push children to challenge measures, it is important to ensure that they know how to face a challenging situation or are open to getting feedback.

Experts also say that it’s important to teach and make kids learn to deal with adversity to prepare for their future. Life keeps coming at us, and there is no possible way for challenges or hardships to end. Hence, an excellent way to battle this is to teach them to be resilient. Emotionally strong and resilient kids also have a better grip on dealing with trauma and are less likely to suffer from deficits when they grow up.

It’s essential to deal with adversity because life keeps coming at you. Adversity never ends.

According to scientist Emmy Werner, who studied human behaviour, kids with a high adversity quotient possess the following characteristics:

  • Are active learners and open to solving life’s problems.
  • Follow a constructive approach to solve or experience any issues.
  • Do not easily give up when they suffer from a setback.
  • Maintain faith and a positive attitude.

Often, people who can navigate through the thick of adversities are the ones who survive the crest and trough/extreme highs and extreme lows of their careers. One must inevitably face multiple hardships and setbacks in their pursuit of success; the ability to surmount these challenges determines whether their attempt will come to fruition. The good news is that AQ can be cultivated and improved by implementing changes regarding one’s practice and perception.

These four steps can help you create greater AQ in yourself and those around you:

  • See It: Acknowledge change is needed. Take a minute to analyse the situation. Panic attacks stemming from sudden adversity can cause one to react rashly and irrationally. Instead of responding immediately, spend some time looking deep into the root cause of the problem, searching for the most optimal response.
  • Own It: Take ownership of the situation. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t let the fear of failing get the best of you. See making mistakes as a form of approaching a problem comprehensively and adopting a learner mindset that will enable you to bounce back from mistakes and learn from them.
  • Solve It: Develop your action plan. Reach out for feedback. Don’t isolate yourself and struggle in silence once a crisis emerges. Ask others for advice and get feedback about how you can better your adversity coping methods. This process will help improve one’s self-awareness and break passive patterns of responses to problems.
  • Do It: Execute the change. Carry out the action plan. Witness the change before your eyes.

Persistence: A person with high AQ can persistently hang around in an environment with extreme circumstances. People who work in human relations have an idea of a person’s AQ. You might wonder why human relations personnel ask about your previous job and how long have you stayed in your last workplace? What are the problems you have encountered? How did you handle the issues? What made you leave the company? The answers to these questions will help them determine your AQ.

Adaptability: If you have a high AQ, you can quickly adapt to drastic changes in an environment. A change in the management, sudden cost-cut or heavier workloads will not faze you. You accept challenges and embrace change readily. However, it does not mean that you will sacrifice your physical and mental health for it. You know what’s possible to achieve and what’s taking a toll on progress.

Control or influence: A person with high AQ has a level of control or influence over a dire situation. Although not all adversities are controllable, these people believe they can provide outcomes despite the extreme challenges.

High endurance: They perceive every challenge and adversity as temporary. People with high AQ can endure the situation for an extended period because they know and hope that the problem will pass. A person reacts differently to every setback, but whatever your initial response is, having an excellent adversity quotient will help you turn the dire situation into a productive one, and you will learn how to counter struggles constructively and readily. Do not let your unhealthy subconscious patterns drain your energy.

Tawakkul/Reliance/Faith: Believing that every hardship has its reason for happening is crucial in dealing with them mentally and emotionally. Stress and anxiety from a lack of faith can severely impair our judgment and the ability to respond constructively. Reinforcing faith in ourselves helps mitigate the pressure in which difficult circumstances put us to implement apt solutions.


Adversity quotient encompasses four dimensions, through which the A.Q. of an individual is measured.





(Embodied in the acronym C.O.R.E.)

C stands for perceived control over adversity. Being able to predict and control events fosters adaptive preparedness. On the other hand, the inability to exert influence over adversity breeds apprehension, apathy, and occasionally despair (Bandura, 1986). Specific perceived control over adversity is a major source of action because people who believe they can attain specific outcomes have the incentive to act (Bandura, 1997).

O stands for the perceived ownership of the outcome of adversity. Some individuals experience strong emotions and discontent when they fail to achieve specific results (Medvec, Madey, and Gilovich, 1995).

The discontent often drives the individual towards taking account of their actions and, therefore, the outcomes. They take steps to circumvent/sidestep unpleasant events or centre their attention on the effects of adversity regardless of its origin (Stoltz, 1997)

R stands for reach, which looks at the perceived scope of the adversity, i.e., how far the trouble gets into the areas of one’s life. The greater the perception of the scope of adversity, the more handicapped such persons will feel. They tend to adopt pessimistic outlooks, experience agitation, sleeplessness, bitterness, and helplessness; make poor decisions; and become socially and professionally isolated (Stoltz, 1997).

E stands for endurance, which is linked to the perceived duration of the adversity. The attribution theory of Peterson et al. (1993) indicated a big difference between people who attribute adversity to something temporary versus something more permanent or enduring. Applying this theory, people who see their ability as the cause of failure (stable cause) are less likely to continue than people who attribute failure to their effort (a temporary reason). An element of endurance is also the sense of hope that “this too shall pass”. Hope is confidence grounded in a realistic appraisal of the challenges in one’s environment and one’s capabilities for navigating around them (Groopman, 2004)

  • They don’t give up when the odds are against them
  • They know how to relax during tense moments
  • They don’t worry about bad luck; they focus on what they can control
  • They let mistakes go and focus on what next
  • They bounce back quickly from setbacks and failures
  • They have a strong belief in their abilities
  • They don’t give up easily
  • They generally look at the brighter side of life

Three facts about “Resilience” you must know

  • Just like physical toughness, mental toughness (resilience) also needs to be built through regular practice.
  • Resilient People also BREAK in tough moments; however, they can quickly bounce back.
  • If you faced adversity in the past and couldn’t handle it well, then there are HUGE chances that you have become more resilient for the next time.

Low AQs, Stoltz observes, have negative, usually irrational, dialogues in their heads that don’t permit them to break out of the mental boxes they’ve unknowingly created for themselves. This negative thinking pattern prevents them from taking steps to make things better—individuals with lower AQs struggle harder to weather changes or become easily overwhelmed by quitting a task.


AQ is a tool for unravelling how people respond emotionally to adversity and helps them secure ways to strengthen their effectiveness amid challenging situations.

It is established science, theory, and approach for becoming measurably more resilient. It measures how an individual strives to overcome adversities or how a person responds to challenges and resolves these.





Prime Spot!!!


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