Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Slater I 207
Resilience/personality psychology: Personality traits: Rutter (1987)(1) thesis: resilience is not a personality trait. (Cf. Cicchetti and Garmezy, 1993(2). 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. >Resilience/psychological theories, >Resilience/Rutter.
Slater I 211
The trait issue has resurfaced in the form of recent efforts to devise and market measures of resilience or “resiliency” (see Windle, Bennett, & Noyes, 2011(3), for a review) and also to conduct large-scale programs to promote individual resiliency.
RutterVs: (Rutter, 1987(1)2006(4)) — along with other leading developmental scholars in the area — such efforts may be misguided. Resilience theory and the body of evidence on human resilience support the idea that resilience results from the interplay of many influences, the operation of multiple adaptive systems in concert, and ongoing interactions among complex systems within the person and between person and environment. It is conceivable in this dynamic systems view to promote resilience; however, this would require a very good understanding of individuals involved, the nature of the challenging situation, adaptive processes involved in meeting this kind of challenge, how to mobilize these processes, and important potential developmental and cultural influences on these various processes.
Masten: (…) there is considerable risk in viewing the capacity for resilience in terms of individual traits. A child (or adult) who does not fare well is then set up for blame by others or the self. The victim is blamed for deficient “resiliency” when in fact there may have been overwhelming adversity and completely inadequate external support from family, community or the larger society to mitigate the threat, support adaptation, or promote recovery.


1. Rutter, M. (1987). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. American journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 316—331.
2. Cicchetti, D., & Garmezy, N. (199 3). Prospects and promises in the study of resilience. Development and Psychopathology, 5,497—502.
3. Windle, G., Bennett, K. M., & Noyes, J. (201 1). A methodological review of resilience measurement
scales. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 9, 8.
4. Rutter, M. (2006). Implications of resilience concepts for scientific understanding. Annals of the
New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 1—12.


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.
Personalty Psychology
Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012


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