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Protective Factor

Ann S. Masten and Janette E. Herbers

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Protective factors are predictors of positive outcomes among people at risk for developing problems as a result of adverse life events or experiences. Interest in protective factors emerged in the context of research on resilience in the 1970s, as scientists began to search for explanations of unexpectedly good adjustment among individuals exposed to negative experiences. Initially, research was focused on identifying the qualities of individuals, their relationships, or other qualities in their environments that were associated with positive adaptation to risk or adversity. Eventually, research turned to deeper questions about how protective factors work and how to facilitate resilience by mobilizing protective processes. Pioneering scientists recognized that protective factors represented important clues to resilience processes, with the potential to inform intervention. Early researchers, such as Norman Garmezy Michael Rutter, and Emmy Werner, observed striking consistencies in the protective factors found across diverse studies of individuals who overcame significant challenges in their lives. Subsequently, this “short list” of protective factors would be corroborated many times across diverse studies of resilience. The short list of protective factors for resilience in young people includes attributes of the individual, family, and neighborhood that are associated with positive ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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