Environmental stressors threaten optimal behavioral functioning, and thus contribute to the development of psychopathology and exert evolutionary selection pressure. Voluntary stressor exposure has the efficacious effect of increasing resilience to future stressors in humans and other animals. This theoretical paper considers the hypothesis that intrinsic motivation toward behaviors requiring voluntary stressor exposure mitigates evolutionary selection pressure exerted by environmental stressors by inducing neural and neuroendocrine plasticity which results in increased resilience. In this view, intrinsically motivated stressor exposure is both efficacious and innate. Empirical and theoretical support for this hypothesis suggest that humans possess an instinct to resilience. Stress-related disorders are conceptualized as outcomes of dysfunction or inhibition of this instinct. A testable evolutionary prediction of this hypothesis is presented.
"The Human Instinct to Resilience: Clinical and Evolutionary Efficacy of Intrinsically Motivated Stressor Exposure,"
Ramifications: Vol. 2
, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wcupa.edu/ramifications/vol2/iss1/3