Development and Psychopathology

Maximizing resilience through diverse levels of inquiry: Prevailing paradigms, possibilities, and priorities for the future

Suniya S. Luthar a1c1 and Pamela J. Brown a2
a1 Columbia University Teachers' College
a2 Yale University School of Medicine

Article author query
luthar ss   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
brown pj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The study of resilience has two core characteristics: it is fundamentally applied in nature, seeking to use scientific knowledge to maximize well-being among those at risk, and it draws on expertise from diverse scientific disciplines. Recent advances in biological processes have confirmed the profound deleterious effects of harsh caregiving environments, thereby underscoring the importance of early interventions. What remains to be established at this time is the degree to which insights on particular biological processes (e.g., involving specific brain regions, genes, or hormones) will be applied in the near future to achieve substantial reductions in mental health disparities. Aside from biology, resilience developmental researchers would do well to draw upon relevant evidence from other behavioral sciences as well, notably anthropology as well as family, counseling, and social psychology. Scientists working with adults and with children must remain vigilant to the advances and missteps in each others' work, always ensuring caution in conveying messages about the “innateness” of resilience or its prevalence across different subgroups. Our future research agenda must prioritize reducing abuse and neglect in close relationships; deriving the “critical ingredients” in effective interventions and going to scale with these; working collaboratively to refine theory on the construct; and responsibly, proactively disseminating what we have learned about the nature, limits, and antecedents of resilient adaptation across diverse at-risk groups.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Suniya S. Luthar, Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Teachers College Box 133, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027-6696; E-mail: