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Risk and Protective Factors

The term resilience refers to a system’s ability to adapt, relatively unscathed, despite experiencing threatening or adverse circumstances. Developmental researchers have studied individuals’ adaptation in response to risk factors across the life span, such as during childhood, adapting to war, natural disasters, poverty, and domestic violence/maltreatment by parents; during adolescence, adapting to violence in the community, family, and dating relationships, and identity-based discrimination (e.g., racial, religious, sexual orientation); and during adulthood, adapting to divorce, death of a spouse, loss of employment, and medical conditions. Exposure to such risk factors often places individuals at a statistically higher likelihood of exhibiting poorer psychological outcomes (e.g., depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms), but this is not the case for a significant number of exposed individuals—that is, they exhibit resilience. Understanding ...

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