Ann S. Masten
Distinguished McKnight University Professor
Ph.D., 1982, University of Minnesota
Office: 205 Child Development
Competence, risk, and resilience in development
I study risk and resilience in development, with a focus on the processes leading to positive adaptation and outcomes in young people whose development is threatened by adversity. With many terrific colleagues and students, I have studied adaptation in diverse children, adolescents, and young adults, including children growing up in ordinary situations in the city or on farms, and children who must overcome extreme threats to development, such as war, disaster, and homelessness. Our objective in this research is to inform policy and programs that promote positive development and a better future for children whose lives are threatened by adversity.
I direct the Project Competence studies of risk and resilience, which include a longitudinal study of 205 children and their families recruited in the late 1970s from an urban school district and followed for more than 20 years with 90% retention. Data and publications from this study span many topics, including the development of competence and personality, the role of protective factors in resilience, the roots of adult happiness and civic engagement, and many other themes. We learned that youth who overcome childhood adversity and continue on to adult success have more protections and resources in their lives than their peers who do not fare as well. We observed “late bloomers” whose lives took a dramatic turn for the better in the transition to adulthood, suggesting that new resources, opportunities, and supports converge in this window to promote positive change.
Other recent research is focused on understanding school success in homeless and highly mobile (HHM) children. Our goal is to examine risk and resilience at multiple levels of analysis, including biological indicators of stress, cognitive skills, social interactions, family qualities and school differences. This work is fully collaborative with partners in the school districts and shelters, as well as local and State agencies who share concerns about achievement disparities. Analyses of district data show expected achievement gaps between advantaged and poor children, with HHM children at highest overall risk; however, results also reveal striking variability, with some mobile children doing well in school. Intensive studies of young children from homeless shelters entering kindergarten and first grade suggest that two key influences, effective parenting and executive function skills, both of which can be changed through intervention, play a powerful role in successful transitions to school for these children.
Other collaborative studies focus on risk and resilience among diverse children. For example, with Frosso Motti-Stefanidi and others in Greece, I study competence among immigrant students. With Joy and Howard Osofsky and others, I study recovery from massive trauma in New Orleans. With Susan Gerberich and colleagues here, I study risk for injuries to Midwestern farm children in epidemiological studies. In all of this work, our focus is on processes that account for positive adaptation in the context of risk, with the ultimate objective of learning how best to promote resilience in human development.
Masten, A. S. (2004). Regulatory processes, risk and resilience in adolescent development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 310-319.
Masten, A. S., Burt, K., Roisman, G. I., Obradovic, J., Long, J. D., & Tellegen, A. (2004). Resources and resilience in the transition to adulthood: Continuity and change. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 1071-1094.
Masten, A. S., Roisman, G. I., Long, J. D., Burt, K. B., Obradovic, J., Riley, J. R., Boelcke-Stennes, K., & Tellegen, A. (2005). Developmental cascades: Linking academic achievement, externalizing and internalizing symptoms over 20 years. Developmental Psychology, 41, 733-746.
Pine, D. S., Costello, J., & Masten, A. S. (2005). Trauma, proximity, and developmental psychopathology: The effects of war and terrorism on children. Neuropsychopharmacology, 30, 1781-1792.
Masten, A. S. (2006). Developmental psychopathology: Pathways to the future. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 31, 46-53.
Masten, A. S., Burt, K., & Coatsworth, J. D. (2006). Competence and psychopathology in development. In D. Cicchetti & D. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology, Vol 3, Risk, disorder and psychopathology (2nd ed.) New York: Wiley.
Masten, A. S., & Obradovic, J. (2006). Competence and resilience in development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 13-27.
Obradovic, J., & Masten, A. S. (2007). Developmental antecedents of young adult civic engagement. Applied Developmental Science, 11(1), 2-19.
Masten, A. S. (Ed.) (2007). Multilevel dynamics in developmental psychopathology: The Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology. Vol. 34. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Masten, A. S. (2007). Resilience in developing systems: Progress and promise as the fourth wave rises. Development and Psychopathology, 19, 921-930.
Revised January 2008