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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Key Definitions

the roy adaptation model


the process and outcome whereby thinking and feeling persons, as individuals and groups, use conscious awareness and choice to create human and environmental integration

Adaptation Processes

activity of subsystems for coping of individuals and relational persons

Coping Processes

Innate or acquired ways of responding to the changing environment

Adaptive Modes

ways of manifesting adaptive processes

Regulator Subsystem

for individuals, a major coping process involving the neural, chemical, and endocrine systems

Cognator Subsystem

for individuals, a major coping process involving four cognitive-emotive channels: perceptual and information processing, learning, judgement, and emotion

Stabilizer Subsystem

for groups, the subsystem associated with system maintenance and involving established structures, values, and daily activities whereby participants accomplish the purpose of the social system

Innovator Subsystem

pertaining to humans in a group, the internal subsystem that involves structures and processes for change and growth

Adaptation Levels

epresent the condition of the life processes described on three levels: as integrated, compensatory, and compromised

Integrated Adaptation Level

structures and functions of the life processes are working as a whole to meet human needs

Compensatory Adaptation Level

cognator and regulator or stabilizer and innovator are activated by a challenge to the integrated life processes

Compromised Adaptation Level

results from inadequate integrated and compensatory life processes; an adaptation problem


that which provokes a response, or more generally, the point of interactions of the human system and environment

Focal Stimulus

the internal or external stimulus most immediately confronting the human adaptive system

Contextual Stimuli

all other stimuli present in the situation that contribute to the effect of the focal stimulus

Residual Stimulus

an environmental factor within or without the human system that have an undetermined effect on the behavior of the human adaptive system


the composite of beliefs and feelings that is held about oneself at a given time, formed from the internal perception and perceptions of others' reactions


the function unit of society; each role exits in relation to another


the close relationships of people aimed at satisfying needs for affection, development, and resources to achieve relational integrity.


Principle of human nature that affirms a common purposefulness of human existence; components include a) purposefulness of human existence, b) unity of purpose in humankind, c) activity and creativity for the common good, d) value and meaning of life; the richness of rootedness in absolute truth

Common Purposefulness

all persons and earth have both unity and diversity; are united in a common destiny; find meaning in mutual relations with each other, the treated world, and a God-figure

Cosmic Unity

stresses that persons and the earth have common patterns and mutuality of relations and meaning; persons through thinking and feeling capacities, rooted in consciousness and meaning, are accountable for deriving, sustaining, and transforming the universe

Relational Persons

Individuals relating in groups such as families, organizations, communities, and society as a whole; use stabilizer and innovator coping processes; with four adaptive modes of physical, groups identity, role function and interdependence (Hanna & Roy, 2001).


The broad movement in philosophy and psychology that recognized the person and subjective dimensions of the human experience as central to knowing and valuing (Roy, 1988); includes the development of specific schools of thought such as secular, atheistic or Christian humanism.


Descriptive of individual and relational adaptive systems; stems from philosophical assumptions of person functioning as wholes in a unified expression of meaningful human behavior; includes common purposefulness and cosmic unity.


Refers to the belief that there is no way to determine objective truth or objective morality; subjectivity is emphasized and the truth becomes what is meaningful or significant within a given context, while good means pleasurable or satisfying; person's own thoughts and feelings are final guide to action (Roy, 2000)