Problems defining resiliency: Illustrations from the study of maltreated children

Joan Kaufman, Alexandra Cook, Libby Arny, Brenda Jones, Todd Pittinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, operational definitions of resiliency used in previous studies are reviewed. Data from a sample of 56 maltreated school-age children are then explored to highlight how variations in the source, type, and number of assessments obtained affect the rates of children classified as resilient. Assessments were obtained in three domains: academic achievement, social competence, and clinical symptomatology. Two sources of information were used to assess each domain, and three different data integration procedures were used to calculate rates of resiliency in the maltreated cohort. It is concluded that the most appropriate definition of resiliency to be used in future investigations depends on the aims of the study. If the goal of the study is to assess overall functioning, there is an advantage to using more broad, multidimensional assessments. If, in contrast, the goal of the study is to determine why some high-risk children develop particular types of problems, to identify underlying etiological processes associated with different outcomes, there is an advantage to using narrower definitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Problems defining resiliency: Illustrations from the study of maltreated children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this