Resilience and Vulnerability: Adaptation in the Context of Childhood Adversities

By Suniya S. Luthar | Go to book overview

21
Research on Resilience
An Integrative Review

Suniya S. Luthar and Laurel Bidwell Zelazo

The contributors to this volume have provided a wealth of information on children facing different life adversities, and in this concluding chapter we provide a distillation of two sets of themes. The first encompasses conceptual and methodological issues in studies of resilience – which, as defined in this book, is a process or phenomenon reflecting positive child adjustment despite conditions of risk. Since its inception a few decades ago, various commentaries have led to refinements in the research on resilience, yet several important issues have remained either unclear or controversial. The introductory chapter of this volume provides a succinct summary of this field at its initiation. In this chapter, we draw from the cutting-edge research presented throughout this book to clarify critical issues in studying resilience, with the ultimate goal of maximizing the contributions of future work on this construct. In turn, we consider (a) distinctions between the risk and resilience paradigms; (b) approaches to measuring adversity and competence; and (c) various concerns about protective and vulnerability factors, including the differences between them, issues about the specificity of effects, and the types of issues most usefully examined in future studies.

Contrasting with the focus on empirical research in the first half of this chapter, the second half is focused on applied issues. At the heart of

Preparation of the manuscript was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes
of Health (RO1-DA10726 and RO1-DA11498), the William T. Grant Foundation, and the
Spencer Foundation. The authors are grateful to Ann Masten, Dante Cicchetti, Sheree
Toth, and Edward Zigler for their thoughtful critiques of an earlier version of this chapter.
Comments from graduate students in our research laboratory are also acknowledged with
thanks.

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