A measure for assessment of beneficial and harmful fortitude: development and initial validation of the Sisu Scale

Pentti Henttonen, Ilmari Määttänen (Corresponding Author), Emilia Makkonen, Anita Honka, Vilja Seppälä, Johanna Närväinen, Regina García-Velázquez, Jaakko Airaksinen, Markus Jokela, Emilia Elisabet Lahti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Sisu is a Finnish cultural concept that denotes determination and resoluteness in the face of adversity. We propose that sisu will supplement the English-language based research on mental fortitude traits. Sisu has not been the focus of systematic research until very recently. We created a new questionnaire measuring sisu (the Sisu Scale), sought to validate the sisu construct and its sub-factor structure as postulated in a recent qualitative study. We investigated associations of sisu with other measures of mental fortitude and well-being. More generally we aimed to enrichen the cross-cultural understanding of human experience of overcoming adversity across life's challenges. We describe and validate a questionnaire that effectively measures both beneficial and harmful sisu, each comprising three sub-factors. Beneficial sisu was associated with other measures of fortitude, but less with personality dimensions. We also confirmed the existence of an independent harmful sisu factor. Beneficial sisu was associated with higher well-being and lower depressive symptoms, and harmful sisu with lower well-being and higher levels of general stress, work stress and depressive symptoms. Together the two factors were superior compared to pre-existing measures when predicting well-being-related variables. Results suggest that the new Sisu Scale we developed may provide a valuable addition to research on mental fortitude, resilience and their consequences for well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11483
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Finland
  • Mental fortitude
  • Perseverance
  • Persistence
  • Personality
  • Sisu
  • Well-being


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