How Does Adversity Build Character?

Weathering adverse events over the course of a lifetime may not develop character, but it does help to improve a person's mental health and outlook on life, which contributes to strong character, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The study maintains that only certain adverse events have a positive effect on a person's personality. Others may have a negative impact.

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports that individuals who experienced difficult events in their lifetimes report having a better sense of well-being and a healthier mental outlook on life than those who have not or those who experienced many unfortunate events, according to "The Wall Street Journal." The same study finds that those who face extreme adversities, such as the death of a parent or spouse, sexual or physical abuse, or homelessness, are linked to poor mental health and a more negative outlook on life.

While it is difficult to quantify how a person develops character, it is generally considered accurate that individuals who maintain a healthy mental outlook and are in control of their emotive state are able to develop better character skills. Individuals who experience the most difficult life circumstances have a more difficult time focusing on building character.