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Keywords:

  • resilience;
  • multiple-levels-of-analysis;
  • gene × environment interaction;
  • resilience-promoting interventions

Abstract: Resilient functioning, the attainment of unexpected competence despite significant adversity, is among the most intriguing and adaptive phenomena of human development. Although growing attention has been paid to discovering the processes through which individuals at high risk do not develop maladaptively, the empirical study of resilience has focused predominantly on detecting the psychosocial determinants of the phenomenon. For the field of resilience to grow in ways that are commensurate with the complexity inherent to the construct, efforts to understand underlying processes will be facilitated by the increased implementation of interdisciplinary research designed within a developmental psychopathology framework. Research of this nature would entail a consideration of psychological, biological, and environmental–contextual processes from which pathways to resilience might eventuate (known as equifinality), as well as those that result in diverse outcomes among individuals who have achieved resilient functioning (know as multifinality). The possible relation between the mechanisms of neural plasticity and resilience and specific suggestions concerning research questions needed to examine this association are discussed. Examples from developmental neuroscience and molecular genetics are provided to illustrate the potential of incorporating biology into the study of resilience. The importance of adopting a multiple-levels-of-analysis perspective for designing and evaluating interventions aimed at fostering resilient outcomes in persons facing significant adversity is emphasized.