Aspirations

Self-efficacy, aspiration, and the confidence to adapt can boost households’ resilience.

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Emerging evidence suggests that in order to fully understand the factors that drive resilience, research needs to go beyond the institutional and economic aspects of how people react to shocks and examine the perceptions, subjective motivations, and social and cognitive elements of individuals, households, and communities.

Approach

Self-efficacy, aspiration, and the confidence to adapt can boost households’ resilience by reducing the use of negative coping mechanisms and encouraging them to seek out formal assistance. Previous poverty research has shown that when people believe they are unable to improve their economic position, they don’t invest in the future. Because aspirations are a key element of individual capabilities, they are a pathway to promote resilience and development.

Evidence

During the 2014/15 drought in the lowland pastoral and agro pastoral areas of Ethiopia, a survey revealed that people with a higher sense of control over their own lives are less likely to engage in negative coping strategies and that these people had a better actual ability to recover from shocks. Aspirations and confidence to adapt also increased household resilience to the drought. Data from agropastoral and marginal agricultural areas of the Sahel show that households’ aspirations and confidence to adapt were positively associated with food security and ability to recover from shocks.

In recent years, a growing number of studies have been conducted with the explicit objective to identify the main determinants of resilience. Several among those studies stress the need to expand our analysis beyond conventional factors such as assets, capacities, capitals, or governance and to consider less tangible elements, such as risk perception, self-efficacy, or aspiration. Those different works suggest that in order to understand the determinants of people’s resilience, better insights are needed not only into the social, institutional, and economic mechanisms that influence people’s decisions in relation to shocks and stressors, but also around the perceptions, subjective motivations, and cognitive elements of individuals, households, and communities.

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