The hardships imposed by extreme weather events may present opportunities for personal growth. Posttraumatic growth involves reappraising and reassessing one’s values and life priorities following exposure to a traumatic or life threatening event, and reinterpreting the event by giving it new meaning (Groleau et al. 2012). Survivors may develop new coping skills, a heightened sense of self-efficacy, and new appreciation for others, especially during the first few months following a disaster when people often report making friends and receiving and providing assistance to others. These and other positive outcomes help counter negative experiences (Groleau et al. 2012; Linley and Joseph 2004; Sattler et al. 2014).
Six weeks after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Phillipines, the majority of people sampled reported posttraumatic growth (Sattler et al. 2016). Four weeks after Cyclone Winston make landfall in Fiji, the majority of persons sampled reported posttraumatic growth (Sattler et al. 2016).
In the weeks and months after an extreme weather event, posttraumatic growth may reflect a coping strategy wherein people focus on the positive aspects of their life that they can control, and reassess their life priorities and attitudes about the situations. They also may engage in social comparison wherein they compare themselves and their situation to others who are less fortunate in order to reassess their situation more favorably (Updegraff and Taylor 2000). This process may help people feel more optimistic and counter negative feelings (Linley and Joseph 2004). Seeing positives can help people control their emotions during a seemingly uncontrollable situation (Sattler et al. 2014). Research is needed to explore how posttraumatic growth may change over time during the recovery process, and how cultural variables may influence its development.