picture survey group

Inwards – Learning about Self

Emotional Stability

Whilst some of the outcome clusters encompass a broad set of related concepts, in this case we have a tight grouping of three research findings which relate very closely to each other. Watts (1992) defines emotional stability as "relatively free from worry and anxiety" (ibid. p.338), and found the greatest improvement in this domain for those with highest initial scores (ibid. p.341). Stott and Hall (2003) found that, amongst all changes in the social ("soft") skills domain, the ability to "control emotions" was the factor with the single greatest self-reported improvement (ibid. p.164). They also note that the expedition participants in question are "highly motivated, academically talented, have an adventurous spirit and are enthused to take on such a challenge" (ibid. p.161).

Emotional stability is linked to two other major outcomes identified in the research - confidence and resilience. It is interesting that the greatest increases in emotional stability are likely to be seen in those young people who already display higher levels of confidence and resilience. What becomes of those participants with lower initial scores?

Personal-Emotional Adjustment (Bobilya et al 2009)
Increased ability to control emotions (Stott and Hall 2003)
Increased emotional stability (Watts et al 1992)


This is one of three clusters of outcomes which are exceptionally well-evidenced and widely acknowledged (the other two being increased sociability and increased confidence). The research shows that both during (Stott and Hall 2003; Rea 2006) and after (Allison 1998, 2005), participants tended to increase their ability to reflect 'inwardly'. That is to say, they were able to think and talk about moral and metaphysical questions. What comes across strongly is participants' ability to turn this critical lens inwards during moments of calm and physical stillness during the expedition:

"When I stood on that peak, life suddenly felt real, I was in such awe of the landscape that I felt like sitting down and crying. I think a moment like that, you realise when and where in life you have gone wrong."
(Voice of 'Subject A', Allison 1998)

Reflection on values, self, life, career, friendships & relationships (Allison 1998, 2005, 2000; Allison & Von Wald 2010; Andrews 1999)
Connectedness to self (Allison 1998, 2000, 2005)
Greater understanding of themselves (Beames 2005)
Personal reflection (Rea 2006)
Enjoy isolation - avoid depression (Stott & Hall 2003)
Spiritual development (Bobilya et al., 2009)