Competence in the context of adversity: Pathways to resilience and maladaptation from childhood to late adolescence

Ann S. Masten, Jon J. Hubbard, Scott D. Gest, Auke Tellegen, Norman Garmezy, Marylouise Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

711 Scopus citations


Competent outcomes in late adolescence were examined in relation to adversity over time, antecedent competence and psychosocial resources, in order to investigate the phenomenon of resilience. An urban community sample of 205 (114 females, 90 males; 27% minority) children were recruited in elementary school and followed over 10 years. Multiple methods and informants were utilized to assess three major domains of competence from childhood through adolescence (academic achievement, conduct, and peer social competence), multiple aspects of adversity, and major psychosocial resources. Both variable-centered and person-centered analyses were conducted to test the hypothesized significance of resources for resilience. Better intellectual functioning and parenting resources were associated with good outcomes across competence domains, even in the context of severe, chronic adversity. IQ and parenting appeared to have a specific protective role with respect to antisocial behavior. Resilient adolescents (high adversity, adequate competence across three domains) had much in common with their low-adversity competent peers, including average or better IQ, parenting, and psychological well-being. Resilient individuals differed markedly from their high adversity, maladaptive peers who had few resources and high negative emotionality. Results suggest that IQ and parenting scores are markers of fundamental adaptational systems that protect child development in the context of severe adversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-169
Number of pages27
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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