Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Michael Rutter on Functions - Dictionary of Arguments

Slater I 206
Functions/risks/Rutter: (Rutter 1987)(1): protective factors imply interactions or special roles when risk is high; in other words, these variables moderate risk in some way with differential effects that cannot be predicted simply from what may happen under low-risk conditions. There is a different or multiplicative effect under high- compared to low-risk conditions.
Functions: e. g., antibodies and airbags play a much different role in the
Slater I 207
situation of specific infection or an automobile crash, respectively, than they do in the course of everyday life when there is no impending threat. The normative expectable function of an attribute or experience also was important in distinguishing risks from assets or vulnerabilities from protections. Automobile crashes and child abuse, for example, could be viewed generally as risks, with expected negative consequences. Talents and mentors are generally viewed as assets or protective influences. Nonetheless, Rutter (1990)(2) and others (Masten et al., 1990)(3) would continue to stress the functional meaning of “risk” and “protective.”



1. Rutter, M. (1987). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. American journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 316—331.
2. Rutter, M. (1990). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. In J. Rolf, A. S. Masten, D.
Cicchetti, K. H. Nuechterlein, & S. Weintraub (Eds), Risk and protective factors in the development of psychopathology (pp. 181—214). New York: Cambridge University Press.
3. Masten, A. S., Best, K. M., & Garmezy, N. (1990). Resilience and development: Contributions from the study of children who overcome adversity. Development and Psychopathology, 2,425—444.


Ann S. Masten, “Resilience in Children. Vintage Rutter and Beyond”, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Rutter, Michael
Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012


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