Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Slater I 206
Resilience/psychology/Rutter: in his 1987 review “Psychosocial Resilience and Protective Mechanisms” (Rutter 1987)(1) Rutter comments on some of the commonly observed protective factors noted by earlier reviews (e.g., Garmezy, 1985)(2), such as self-esteem, harmonious families, and external support systems. Then he raises a critical question as to whether these protective factors represent something distinct from widely established risk factors (i.e., low self-esteem, discordant families, and lack of support) or the positive pole of bi-polar dimensions. In other words, has something “new” been identified or are we rediscovering the full range of key variables that relate to adaptation along a continuum from negative to positive? In a well-known passage on the utility of naming the opposite poles of the same underlying dimension. >Distinctions/order/Rutter.
RutterVsTradition: Rutter focused on interactions and moderating effects. >Resilience/psychological theories.
Tradition: Much confusion accompanied the early research on resilience in relation to distinguishing factors that were generally “good” or “bad” under most circumstances from factors that played a special role under particular circumstances.
RutterVsTradition: In this article, Rutter emphasized that 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.
Slater I 207
Personality traits/resilience/Rutter: thesis: resilience is not a personality trait. (Cf. Cicchetti and Garmezy, 1993(3). Given that the same trait can function in different ways across people and situations and the life course, and given that development changes the capacity of a person to respond and adapt, the notion of a resiliency trait is untenable.
Protection/Rutter: a protective function is not the same thing as a pleasant or rewarding experience. Inoculations are a classic example of a protective intervention in medicine. Similarly, discipline by parents, often implicated as protective for young people in risky contexts, may not be enjoyable at the time the intervention is imposed.
Slater I 208
Rutter: Four factors might lead to resilience: 1) reduction of risk; 2) reduction of negative chain reactions; 3) promotion or support of self-esteem and self-efficacy; 4) opening up of opportunities. >Resilience/developmental psychology.


1. Rutter, M. (1987). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. American journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 316—331.
2. Garmezy, N. (1985). Stress-resistant children: The search for protective factors. In J. E. Stevenson
(Ed.), Recent research in developmental psychopathology: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Book Supplement 4 (pp. 213—233). Oxford: Pergamon Press.
3. Cicchetti, D., & Garmezy, N. (199 3). Prospects and promises in the study of resilience. Development and Psychopathology, 5,497—502.


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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