The construct of resilience: A critical evaluation and guidelines for future work

Suniya S. Luthar, Dante Cicchetti, Bronwyn Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3545 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-562
Number of pages20
JournalChild development
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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