Project

Resilience in the face of adversity

Goal: Understanding processes that foster well-being despite adversity, with attention to those that can be modified in preventive interventions.

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Suniya S. Luthar
added 4 research items
This study examined the strength of associations between multiple aspects of school climate and adjustment outcomes among a group recently identified as being at risk: youth attending high-achieving schools (HAS). Using three diverse high schools as samples (n = 2,508, 49% female) – one boarding, one private, and one public school – links with school climate dimensions were examined separately for boys and girls. Importantly, using multivariate analyses, salient aspects of parent-child relationships known to be significant for adolescent adjustment were first considered. Thus, analyses provided relatively stringent tests of potentially unique effects of individual school climate dimensions. Findings showed that (1) consistent differences existed across schools by region and type and (2) links between school climate dimensions and adolescent adjustment were robust after considering the quality of parent-child relationships. Among the different dimensions of school climate, negative aspects of school climate – feeling alienated by teachers and perceived tolerance of bullying – were most consistently linked to symptoms. Conversely, positive school climate indices, including having a caring adult at school and respect for diversity, were most consistently linked to positive adjustment outcomes. Findings are discussed in terms of the importance of school climate dimensions for adjustment among HAS youth.
Although often considered to be at low risk for negative outcomes, there is replicated evidence that youth attending high-achieving schools experience clinically significant mental health problems that exceed national norms. However, relatively little is known about family correlates of adolescent socio-emotional development, including parental criticism and expectations. Using a sample of high school students (N = 710, mean age = 16.7 years, 45% female) drawn from a high-achieving school in a largely affluent area, this study investigated concurrent associations between adolescent perceptions of maternal and paternal criticism and expectations with their self-reported internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. To discern configurations of family environment based on separate ratings of maternal and paternal criticism and expectations, we employed person-centered, latent profile analysis. An empirically distinct class emerged consisting of families with elevated maternal and paternal criticism and expectations; this class concurrently reported the highest levels of internalizing and externalizing problems. These findings highlight the importance of parent-child relationships for offspring well-being and suggest that paternal achievement expectations may be particularly relevant among high-achieving youth. We consider these findings within the larger context of family factors and adolescent development among youth in high-achieving contexts, including the significant need to consider father-offspring relationship factors.
Among youth from high-achieving schools, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were examined in relation to (a) internalizing and externalizing symptoms in adolescence (n = 527), and (b) symptoms plus psychiatric diagnoses-based on multiple annual interviews-in adulthood (n = 316). Also examined were associations for a "Proxy ACEs" (P-ACEs) measure, containing items similar to those on standard ACEs measures without reference to abuse or neglect. Rates of ACEs were comparable with those in other studies; most commonly endorsed were perceived parental depression followed by aspects of emotional neglect. Groups exposed to zero, 1, 2, 3, and 4+ ACEs differed on symptoms in adulthood, with small to moderate effect sizes; in parallel comparisons of P-ACEs groups on Grade 12 symptoms, differences had large effect sizes. In relation to psychiatric diagnoses, comparisons with the zero ACEs group showed that groups with 1, 2, 3 ACEs, versus 4+ ACES, respectively, had twofold and over fivefold greater odds of having any lifetime diagnosis. The odds for internalizing diagnoses specifically were 2-6 times greater for individuals with 1, 2, and 3 ACEs, and 12 times greater for those reporting 4 ACEs. Remarkably, Grade 12 reports of 2, 3, and 4+ P-ACEs were linked to 2-3 times greater odds of a psychiatric disorder in adulthood, and 3-6 times greater odds for internalizing diagnoses specifically. In the future, assessments of ACEs and P-ACEs could facilitate early detection of problems among HAS students, informing interventions to mitigate vulnerability processes and promote resilience among these youth and their families. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
Suniya S. Luthar
added 11 research items
We address the issue of invisible labor in the home by examining how the distribution of the mental and emotional labor inherent in managing the household between spouses may be linked with women’s well-being, including their satisfaction with life, partner satisfaction, feelings of emptiness, and experiencing role overload. In a sample of 393 U.S. married/partnered mothers, mostly of upper-middle class backgrounds with dependent children at home, results showed that a majority of women reported that they alone assumed responsibility for household routines involving organizing schedules for the family and maintaining order in the home. Some aspects of responsibilities related to child adjustment were primarily handled by mothers, including being vigilant of children’s emotions, whereas other aspects were shared with partners, including instilling values in the children. Responsibility was largely shared for household finances. Regression analyses showed that after controlling for dimensions of emotional and physical intimacy, feeling disproportionately responsible for household management, especially child adjustment, was associated with strains on mothers’ personal well-being as well as lower satisfaction with the relationship. The implications of our work highlight the need to consider the burden of household management on mothers’ well-being and speak to mothers’ own needs for support and care as the primary managers of the household. In future research on division of labor, it will be useful to measure these critical but often neglected dimensions of who coordinates the household, given potential ramifications of this dimension for the quality of marriages and women’s personal well-being.
Background: A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs53576, of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) has been associated with fundamental aspects of social processes and behaviors. Compared to A carriers, GG individuals have enhanced social competencies and tend to elicit more positive responses from social partners. However, the G allele of the OXTR rs53576 has also been associated with greater social sensitivity. Objective: The current study examined the unique influence of emotional childhood abuse on positive and negative aspects of different types of social relationships (e.g., family, spouse/partner, and friends) in midlife and whether genetic variations of OXTR rs53576 moderated these associations. Participants and setting: A total of 614 participants in midlife (aged 40-65), recruited for a large-scale study of Phoenix metropolitan residents (AS U Live Project), answered self-report questionnaires and provided blood samples for DNA genotyping. Methods: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses tested whether emotional childhood abuse predicted social support and strain for each relationship type and whether these potential linkages differed by OXTR genotype (GG versus AA/AG). Results: Overall, individuals with a history of emotional childhood abuse had less supportive and more strained relationships in midlife. For supportive family relationships, the effect of emotional childhood abuse was moderated by OXTR rs53576 (p < .001). Under conditions of experiencing more emotional abuse in childhood, GG individuals had more supportive family relationships in midlife compared to A carriers. Conclusions: Overall, genetic variations of OXTR rs53576 may be an important candidate in understanding the development of social functioning within the context of emotional childhood abuse.
Suniya S. Luthar
added 5 research items
Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with a number of health problems and early mortality. Developmental studies have also shown strong links between parents' contemporaneous negative feelings toward their children and the children's maladjustment. Objectives: The relative, unique contributions of ACEs and parents' feelings of aggravation were examined in predicting to the presence of children's internalizing and externalizing problems, perseverance and emotional regulation. Also tested was the potential moderating roles of personal support and external emotional resources for parents. Participants and setting: Data from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health were used. A random, nationally representative sample of 35,718 adult caregivers in the United States (US) with children ages 6-17 were included. Methods: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed to explore the patterns of results in predicting to children's maladjustment and adjustment, separately by child sex. Results: Parental aggravation consistently had larger effects on children's maladjustment and adjustment than ACEs (1.47-1.82 timesamong males; 1.31-1.83 time among females, with one exception, i.e. internalizing problems). Personal support for parenting attenuated the relations of both ACEs and parental aggravation with children's outcomes. In the presence of external resources for parenting, children's maladjustments tended to be even more pronounced, suggesting that parents seek external resources when problem behaviors become significant in their children. Conclusion: For children at risk, future interventions should consider the value of refocusing attention from the occurrence ACEs per se, to critical, proximal indices - parents' negative feelings around parenting - that can have stronger links with children's maladjustment and that are more amenable to change.
Abstract Teachers in the US are now considered integral to promoting students’ mental health; here we report on two major challenges for educators in high achieving schools (HAS). The first involves high adjustment disturbances among students. We present data on nine HAS cohorts showing elevated rates of clinically significant symptoms relative to norms; rates of anxious-depressed symptoms, in particular, were six to seven times those in national norms on average. As high achieving youth often keep internalizing symptoms hidden, their teachers will need help in understanding how to identify early signs of these types of distress, and to ensure appropriate, timely interventions. The second challenge we consider has to do with relationships between service providers and parents. Data obtained from the former showed that they tend to perceive relatively wealthy parents more negatively, and as more likely to threaten litigation, compared to parents from middle- or low-income backgrounds. We discuss the importance of proactively addressing such potentially adversarial relationships for the success of both the early detection of HAS students’ adjustment problems, and appropriate interventions for them. Next, we appraise how the aforementioned challenges can greatly exacerbate risks for burnout among educators in HAS settings, and how this might be alleviated via evidence-based, institutional-level interventions. Schools must ensure ongoing support for educators who carry the weighty, dual charge of tending to the emotional needs of a group of highly stressed students, in addition to ensuring their continued, exemplary levels of educational accomplishments.
The focus of this article is on the important need for educators in trauma-informed schools to receive ongoing support themselves. That K-12 teachers should attend to their students’ mental health is now commonly emphasized and indeed is invaluable for prevention purposes. At the same time, teachers in general are at high risk for burnout, and there can be much additional stress from routinely providing empathic support to troubled students in classrooms. After reviewing the relevant literature, we provide preliminary data – based on first-hand reports from ten teachers in trauma-informed K-12 schools -- about major challenges faced and ways in which these might be alleviated. These exploratory insights are then discussed within the framework of current recommendations in the field of resilience in childhood. The latter clearly indicate that if adults in major socializing roles (parents as well as teachers) contend with high everyday stress, the most important protective factor is their ongoing access to supportive relationships in everyday life settings (National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019). The paper concludes with directions for future work, highlighting areas where educational and school psychologists might spearhead and support training efforts, and help to incorporate support-based interventions within school’ institutional cultures.
Suniya S. Luthar
added an update
The focus of this article is on the important need for educators in trauma-informed schools to receive ongoing support themselves. That K-12 teachers should attend to their students’ mental health is now commonly emphasized and indeed is invaluable for prevention purposes. At the same time, teachers in general are at high risk for burnout, and there can be much additional stress from routinely providing empathic support to troubled students in classrooms. After reviewing the relevant literature, we provide preliminary data – based on first-hand reports from ten teachers in trauma-informed K-12 schools -- about major challenges faced and ways in which these might be alleviated. These exploratory insights are then discussed within the framework of current recommendations in the field of resilience in childhood. The latter clearly indicate that if adults in major socializing roles (parents as well as teachers) contend with high everyday stress, the most important protective factor is their ongoing access to supportive relationships in everyday life settings (National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019). The paper concludes with directions for future work, highlighting areas where educational and school psychologists might spearhead and support training efforts, and help to incorporate support-based interventions within school’ institutional cultures.
 
Suniya S. Luthar
added a research item
From Conference brochure: With a basis in over 30 years of scientific research on resilience, Dr. Luthar will describe the culture-specific risk and protective factors that affect student well-being in high achieving schools. She will discuss critical aspects of students' relationships with parents and with peers, as well as salient aspects of school climate, with an emphasis, throughout, on factors that are amenable to change by stakeholders at schools. Based on cutting-edge data across multiple schools, she will summarize specific directions for educators and parents about how to foster the well-being of “the whole child” in high achievement settings.
Suniya S. Luthar
added an update
Suniya S. Luthar
added 2 research items
Youth in high achieving schools (HAS) are at elevated risk for serious adjustment problems—including internalizing and externalizing symptoms and substance use—given unrelenting pressures to be “the best.” For resilience researchers, successful risk evasion in these high-pressure settings should, arguably, be defined in terms of the absence of serious symptoms plus behaviorally manifested integrity and altruism. Future interventions should target that which is the fundamental basis of resilience: Dependable, supportive relationships in everyday settings. These must be promoted between adults and children and among them, toward enhancing positive development among youth and families in these high stress environments.
Suniya S. Luthar
added a research item
TABLE OF CONTENTS Historical Overview of Childhood Resilience Resilience Research: Central Constructs Vulnerability and Protective Processes: Operationalization and measurement Interpreting Findings: Main effects and Interaction Terms Vulnerability and protective processes: Summarizing Extant Evidence Family Relationships Effects of Maltreatment Protective Family Forces: Attachment, Nurturance, and Support Can Subsequent Good Relationships Compensate for Lack of Parent Nurturance? Protective Parenting: Discipline and Monitoring Coexisting Warmth and Appropriate Control Communities Effects of Violence Protective Processes in Communities: Early Interventions and K-12 Schools Attachment-based Interventions in Schools Peers and Social Networks Neighborhoods: Protective Processes Individual Attributes: Malleability in Contexts Environmental Influences on Diverse Personal Assets The State of the Science: Issues of Consensus, Controversy, and Future Directions Issues Established or Confirmed Issues Unresolved: Critical Directions for Future Research Central Priorities: Reducing Child Maltreatment Multi-level, Transactional, Relationship-Centered Models Research Designs: Within-group and Within-gender Analyses. Operational Definitions of Core Relationships: Predictors and Outcomes Intervention Needs: Understanding Mechanisms of Change and Going to Scale Community And School-Based Systemic Interventions Conclusions
Suniya S. Luthar
added a research item
In this chapter, we review evidence on a group recently identified as "at-risk", that is, youth growing up in the context of high achieving schools (HAS), predominated by well-educated, white collar professional families. Though these youngsters are thought of as "having it all", they are statistically more likely than normative samples to show serious disturbances across several domains including drug and alcohol use, as well as internalizing and externalizing problems. We review data on these problems with attention to gender-specific patterns, presenting quantitative developmental research findings along with relevant evidence across other disciplines. In considering possible reasons for elevated maladjustment, we appraise multiple pathways including aspects of family dynamics, peer norms, and pressures at schools. All of these pathways are considered within the context of broad, exosystemic mores: the pervasive emphasis, in contemporary American culture, on maximizing personal status, and how this can threaten the well-being of individuals and of communities. The chapter concludes with ideas for future interventions, with discussions on how research-based assessments of schools can best be used to reduce pressures, and to maximize positive adaptation, among youth in highly competitive, pressured school environments.
Suniya S. Luthar
added 2 research items
Factors that allow children to maintain socially competent behaviors despite stress were examined among 144 inner-city ninth-grade students with a mean age of 15.3 years. Stress was operationalized by scores on a negative life events scale, and definitions of social competence were based on peer ratings, teacher ratings, and school grades. Moderator variables examined included intelligence, internal locus of control, social skills, ego development, and positive life events. Following theoretical models by Garmezy and Rutter, distinctions were made between compensatory factors (which are directly related to competence) and protective/vulnerability factors (which interact with stress in influencing competence). Ego development was found to be compensatory against stress. Internality and social skills proved to be protective factors, while intelligence and positive events were involved in vulnerability processes. This study also revealed that children labeled as resilient were significantly more depressed and anxious than were competent children from low stress backgrounds.
Reviews the developmental psychopathology literature addressing issues of children's resilience and vulnerability in dealing with life stresses. Approaches are described for defining the 2 central constructs in resilience research: stress and competence. The contribution and methodological limitations of research on these constructs are examined, and theoretical concepts of resilience are discussed. Findings on factors that moderate the effects of stress and data from longitudinal studies are presented.
Suniya S. Luthar
added 4 research items
Factors that allow children to maintain socially competent behaviors despite stress were examined among 144 inner-city ninth-grade students with a mean age of 15.3 years. Stress was operationalized by scores on a negative life events scale, and definitions of social competence were based on peer ratings, teacher ratings, and school grades. Moderator variables examined included intelligence, internal locus of control, social skills, ego development, and positive life events. Following theoretical models by Garmezy and Rutter, distinctions were made between compensatory factors (which are directly related to competence) and protective/vulnerability factors (which interact with stress in influencing competence). Ego development was found to be compensatory against stress. Internality and social skills proved to be protective factors, while intelligence and positive events were involved in vulnerability processes. This study also revealed that children labeled as resilient were significantly more depressed and anxious than were competent children from low stress backgrounds.
Levels of psychological adjustment were examined among 51 high achieving, intellectually gifted adolescents with a mean age of 14.1 years. These students were compared with older adolescents matched with them on cognitive maturity (n = 30), and with two groups matched with them on chronological age (CA). One of the CA-matched groups contained children not identified as gifted (n = 47), while the other consisted of athletically talented youngsters (n = 39). All participants belonged to upper middle class families. On multiple indices of adjustment, intellectually gifted adolescents were comparable to older adolescents with similar cognitive skills, but differed from both groups of age mates. Differences between the gifted and non-gifted CA-matched groups were stronger than were those between the gifted group and the athletes of the same age. The findings were interpreted in terms of cognitive-developmental and experiential influences on psychological adjustment. The study also revealed gender effects which appeared to be linked with conflicts faced by gifted females between issues of achievement and those of social acceptance.
Vulnerability to drug abuse and psychopathology was explored among siblings of 201 opioid-addicted probands. Disorders were evaluated based on family histories among 476 siblings; a subset of 133 siblings was also directly interviewed. Results indicated that a) siblings of opiate addicts had substantially higher rates of several disorders in comparison with rates in the community; b) as compared with parents of addicts, siblings had elevated rates of substance abuse and antisocial personality; c) the presence of a major psychiatric disorder significantly increased the risk of developing substance abuse among siblings; and d) psychopathology appeared to precede drug abuse in terms of age of onset in this group. Results obtained with the interviewed sample of siblings were replicated in the overall group. Findings of the study are discussed in terms of implications for the classification and treatment of substance abuse. (C) Williams & Wilkins 1992. All Rights Reserved.
Suniya S. Luthar
added 2 research items
In discussing how merit is commonly judged in academia, my focus in this paper is not on dimensions that are currently considered, but on those that warrant more attention. Grounded in suggestions offered by Sternberg (2016), I argue here for increased recognition of faculty’s commitment to intrinsic values – focused on community and relationships – and not just extrinsic ones that connote personal fame or status. I first summarize evidence of disillusionment among today’s promising young scholars, and then provide exemplars of role models who have, in fact, maintained high standards in both intrinsic and extrinsic domains. I illustrate how commitment to intrinsic goals in everyday professional responsibilities (such as peer reviews or teaching) can come at cost to personal success, and suggest ways of providing appropriate recognition in faculty evaluations. At the macro-level, I describe how positive work communities can enhance productivity, foster resilience and mitigate burnout in the competitive world of contemporary academe. Finally, I underscore the critical role of psychologists in spurring greater dialogue about the messages conveyed by higher education, to the next generation, about what truly matters in making "a life well lived”.
Vulnerability to drug abuse was explored among 132 siblings of opioid-addicted probands. Multiple risk factors at the levels of the individual, family, and peer group were examined, including sensation-seeking, teenage experimentation with drugs, ordinal position in the family relative to the addicted proband, birth order, and the extent to which peers used drugs and offered drugs to the individual during adolescence. Risk factors were assessed via questionnaire and interview data, while diagnoses of adult drug abuse were derived from structured interviews. Early experimentation with drugs was found to be a powerful risk variable: siblings who had tried drugs as teenagers were almost five times as likely as others to be drug abusers as adults. Other significant correlates of adult drug abuse included sensation-seeking and drug use among the adolescent peer group. Results of the study are discussed in terms of implications for preventive intervention in the field of substance abuse.
Suniya S. Luthar
added a research item
Summarized here are recommended features of school-based surveys seeking to (a) characterize the psychological adjustment of students, and (b) pinpoint major aspects of their environments (especially modifiable dimensions of school climate) that best foster resilience.
Suniya S. Luthar
added a research item
• We previously demonstrated significant and sustained benefit in multiple psychological measures (Figure 1), as well as reduction in cortisol levels, associated with a 12-week facilitated support group for physician and advanced practitioner mothers (Authentic Connection Groups, n=21) at Mayo Clinic Arizona, compared to a control group (n=19) [1]. • From the very first session, a constant refrain is that mothers develop authentic connections not just within the groups, but more importantly, with other mothers in their everyday lives, who are formally labeled as their “Go-to Committees.” (Figure 2) • We now present qualitative data gathered during the trial, with the dual aims of (a) illuminating underlying mechanisms (i.e., processes explaining why this intervention “worked”), and (b) inspiring both replication studies and wider dissemination of this intervention in other healthcare communities.
Suniya S. Luthar
added 2 research items
Levels of social competence and maladaptive behaviors were examined among 184 male and 85 female treatment-seeking cocaine abusers. Social competence was assessed based on indices of functioning at work and in relationships, maladaptive behaviors included severity of drug and legal problems, and difficulties in interpersonal relationships. Consistent with developmental interpretations, results indicated that addicts with comorbid depression had higher social competence than those with comorbid antisocial personality disorders. In contrast with research on other psychiatric groups, female addicts had lower social competence than males; however, they also had lower levels of maladaptive behaviors. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for preventive interventions and treatment for drug abusers.
Familial risk for psychiatric disorders was assessed among 673 siblings of cocaine-abusing individuals. Various indices of familial risk were examined, including those based on the presence/absence of disorders in parents and those reflecting severity (assessed by age at onset) of disorders. Across risk indices, the findings indicated high vulnerability among siblings (1) to substance abuse in relation to paternal alcoholism and (2) to depression and substance abuse in relation to maternal depression. The validity of the Type I/Type II distinction was upheld in the context of alcoholism only among fathers. In the context of affective disorders, risk to offspring was greatest if exposure to parental psychopathology occurred during the early childhood years.
Suniya S. Luthar
added an update
Poster presented at the American Conference on Physician Health, San Francisco, October 12, 2017
 
Suniya S. Luthar
added 2 research items
Recent advances in research on childhood resilience have yielded valuable insights on protective processes in adjustment. At the same time, however, as with any growing discipline, the rapid accrual of data has led to the identification of additional important questions, many of which are currently inadequately resolved. The focus of this paper is on salient methodological and conceptual issues that merit further scrutiny in research on resilience. The discussion focuses in turn on definitions of competence, measurement of risk, terminology used to describe protective mechanisms, main effect and interaction effect models of resilience, and processes underlying “buffering” or “moderating” effects.
Suniya S. Luthar
added 2 research items
The maintenance of high social competence despite stress was examined in a 6-month prospective study of 138 inner-city ninth-grade students. The purpose was to provide a replication and extension of findings derived from previous cross-sectional research involving a comparable sample of children. Specifically, goals were to examine the extent to which high-stress children with superior functioning on one or more aspects of school-based social competence could evade significant difficulties in (a) other spheres of competence at school and (b) emotional adjustment. Measurements of stress were based on uncontrollable negative life events. Competence was assessed via behavioral indices including school grades, teacher ratings, and peer ratings, and emotional distress was measured via self-reports. Results indicated that high-stress children who showed impressive behavioral competence were highly vulnerable to emotional distress over time. Furthermore, almost 85% of the high-stress children who seemed resilient based on at least one domain of social competence at Time 1 had significant difficulties in one or more domains examined when assessed at both Time 1 and Time 2. Findings are discussed in terms of conceptual and empirical issues in resilience research.
Associations between psychopathology among parents and among their offspring were examined among families of drug abusers. Patterns of transmission of disorders were examined in the context of several potential moderator variables, including gender of parent, ethnicity, and type of drug abused by the proband relative. The sample consisted of 492 parents and 673 siblings of cocaine abusers, and 400 parents and 476 siblings of opioid addicts. Results indicated that a) maternal depression was associated with several psychiatric disorders among all groups of offspring; b) paternal alcoholism yielded less powerful effects, showing associations with offspring substance abuse among blacks but not Caucasians; c) incidence of disorders among offspring showed sequential increases depending on whether neither, one, or both parents were affected; and d) there was little evidence for specificity of aggregation of disorders among these families. Results are discussed in terms of implications for empirical studies as well as intervention programming.
Suniya S. Luthar
added 2 research items
This paper presents a critical appraisal of resilience, a construct connoting the maintenance of positive adaptation by individuals despite experiences of significant adversity. As empirical research on resilience has burgeoned in recent years, criticisms have been levied at work in this area. These critiques have generally focused on ambiguities in definitions and central terminology; heterogeneity in risks experienced and competence achieved by individuals viewed as resilient; instability of the phenomenon of resilience; and concerns regarding the usefulness of resilience as a theoretical construct. We address each identified criticism in turn, proposing solutions for those we view as legitimate and clarifying misunderstandings surrounding those we believe to be less valid. We conclude that work on resilience possesses substantial potential for augmenting the understanding of processes affecting at-risk individuals. Realization of the potential embodied by this construct, however, will remain constrained without continued scientific attention to some of the serious conceptual and methodological pitfalls that have been noted by skeptics and proponents alike.
Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 2001, Vol 46(2), 154-156. Devoted entirely to qualitative research, this volume (see record 1999-04010-000) is the fourth in a series titled Resiliency in Families. The volume was developed from a roundtable conference held at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, attended by a multidisciplinary group of scholars. None had originally set out to study resilience specifically, but all conducted qualitative research with families facing adverse circumstances. Of the eight chapters in this volume, half are focused on health-related issues including infertility, adult noninsulin-dependent diabetes, AIDS in a family member, and chronic childhood conditions. The other four chapters encompass diverse life events or circumstances, including divorce, child maltreatment, homosexuality of an adult child, and job regulation and transformation. As with many edited volumes, this book reflects variability in thematic coherence across the different chapters, and in this case, an additional constraint stems from the fact that the core construct, resilience, was not the focus of the contributors' respective research programs. These constraints notwithstanding, the book has several notable assets. Chapters are generally well written, and provide vivid glimpses into family functioning in the face of different life adversities. Authors are clear about the details of their qualitative methodology, and are careful to note the limits to inferences based on their data. Finally, chapters in this book collectively yield useful insights about protective processes that generalize across diverse life stressors, and suggest several new avenues that might profitably be pursued in future research on pathways to resilient adaptation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Suniya S. Luthar
added a research item
Compiled in this Special Section are recommendations from multiple experts on how to maximize resilience among children at risk for maladjustment. Contributors delineated processes with relatively strong effects and modifiable by behavioral interventions. Commonly highlighted was fostering the well-being of caregivers via regular support, reduction of maltreatment while promoting positive parenting, and strengthening emotional self-regulation of caregivers and children. In future work, there must be more attention to developing and testing interventions within real-world settings (not just in laboratories) and to ensuring feasibility in procedures, costs, and assessments involved. Such movement will require shifts in funding priorities—currently focused largely on biological processes—toward maximizing the benefits from large-scale, empirically supported intervention programs for today's at-risk youth and families.
Suniya S. Luthar
added a research item
We examine whether the previously reported commonness of resilience to significant adversity extends to parents’ death of a child. To examine our research questions, we apply growth mixture models to longitudinal data from 461 parents in the HILDA study who had experienced child loss. The proportion of parents manifesting resilience were 44%, 56%, 21%, 32%, and 16% for life satisfaction, negative affect, positive affect, general health, and physical functioning, respectively. Only 5% were resilient across all five indices, whereas 28% did not show a resilient trajectory across all outcomes. Social connectedness, anticipating comfort when distressed, and everyday role functioning were the strongest predictors of resilient adaptation. Findings underscore that resilience is not a unidimensional construct.
Suniya S. Luthar
added an update
Project goal
Understanding processes that foster well-being despite adversity, with attention to those that can be modified in preventive interventions.
Background and motivation
Research on resilience has proliferated extensively since the 1970's, when developmental psychologists first studied it. Our goals are to integrate accumulate new findings that span diverse at-risk samples and methods of study, toward deriving central "take-home" messages about resilience and how it is best fostered.