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Fostering Resilience (Luthar)

Keywords:  resilience; affluence; motherhood; prevention; parenting

Lab Research Area:

Conducted within a developmental psychopathology framework, research by our group revolves around the construct of resilience and positive youth development. Core questions of interest are: What are the processes that help some children do well in spite of diverse stressors in their lives?  Across various spheres of development -psychological, emotional, interpersonal, and academic- how can children maximize their potentials and achieve competent, productive trajectories over time? 


Currently, we are focused on two major programs of research.  The first involves students in high-achieving schools: Extreme achievement pressure has been now been ranked the #4 risk factor for adolescent well-being placing our lab's work at the forefront of a major new direction for research, prevention, and policy. The second area of our work encompasses evidence-based groups to foster resilience among mothers (and women generally) in high-stress settings, via an empirically validated group intervention, Authentic Connections Groups.

Lab Director and Principal Investigator:  Suniya Luthar, PhD. Professor of Psychology

Suniya S. Luthar is Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and Professor Emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College. After receiving her PhD (Distinction) from Yale University in 1990, she served on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and the Child Study Center at Yale.  Between 1997 and 2013, she was at Columbia University’s Teachers College, where she also served as Senior Advisor to the Provost (2011-2013). Dr. Luthar's research involves vulnerability and resilience among various populations including youth in poverty, children in families affected by mental illness, and teens in upper-middle class families (who reflect high rates of symptoms relative to national norms).  Her recent research is focused on motherhood, with exploration of factors that best help mothers negotiate the challenges of this life-transforming role, and applying these research-based insights to foster their resilience through supportive group-based interventions. For more information about Dr. Luthar's work, please see her curriculum vitae or visit her website at www.SuniyaLuthar.org. 

Our Team of Collaborators:

Suniya Luthar, Ph.D. – Foundation Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University
Nicole Zillmer, Ph.D. – Affiliate, Arizona State University 
Lucia Ciciolla, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University, Collaborator
Renee Benoit, B. A. – Doctoral student, Developmental Psychology, Arizona State University
Ashley Ebbert, M.A. – Doctoral student, Clinical Psychology, Arizona State University
Alexandra Ingram, M.A. -- Doctoral student, Clinical Psychology, Arizona State University

Please email LutharLab@gmail.com if interested in joining our lab.   


  • PSY443 Abnormal Child Psychology
  • PSY591 Resilience Processes in Development
  • PSY680 Clinical Psychology doctoral students: 2nd Year Practicum
  • PSY 780: Interpersonal Therapy Advanced Treatment Methods (ATM) Practicum


If you're interested in joining the lab, please contact Dr. Luthar.

Recent publications: Research (for more, see here)  

Ebbert, A., Infurna, F. J., & Luthar, S.S. (In press). Mapping developmental changes in perceived parent-adolescent relationship quality throughout middle school and high school. Development and Psychopathology.

Curlee, A. S., Aiken, L. S., & Luthar, S. S. (2018). Middle school peer reputation in high-achieving schools: Ramifications for maladjustment versus competence by age 18. Development and Psychopathology.https://doi-org.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/10.1017/S0954579418000275

Infurna, F. J. & Luthar, S. S. (2018). Re-evaluating the notion that resilience is commonplace: A review and distillation of directions for future research, practice, and policyClinical Psychology Review.DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2018.07.003.

Luthar, S. S., Small, P.J., Ciciolla, L. (2018). Adolescents from upper middle class communities: Substance misuse and addiction across early adulthoodDevelopment and Psychopathology, 30, 311-335. doi.org/10.1017/S0954579417000645.

Luthar, S.S., & Kumar, N.L. (2018). Youth in high-achieving schools: Challenges to mental health and directions for evidence-based interventions. In A. W. Leschied, D. H. Saklofske, and G. L. Flett, Handbook of School-Based Mental Health Promotion: An Evidence-Informed Framework (pp. 441-458). New York: Springer.

Luthar, S. S. (2018). Mothering mothers. In R.A. Settersten Jr. & Megan M. McClelland (Eds.), The Study of Human Development: The Future of the Field. New York: Routledge.

Luthar, S. S. (2017). Doing for the greater good: What price, in academe? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12, 1153-1158. DOI10.1177/1745691617727863.

Luthar, S. S., Small, P.J., Ciciolla, L. (2017). Adolescents from upper middle class communities: Substance misuse and addiction across early adulthoodDevelopment and Psychopathology. First view: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579417000645

Ciciolla, L., Curlee, A., & Luthar, S. S. (2017). What women want: Employment preference and adjustment among mothers. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 27, 282-290.: DOI 10.1007/s10834-017-9534-7.

Infurna, F.J. & Luthar, S. S. (2017). The multidimensional nature of resilience to spousal loss. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 112, 926-947. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000095

Luthar, S.S., Curlee, A., Tye, S.J., Engelman, J.C., &. Stonnington, C. M. (2017). Fostering resilience among mothers under stress: “Authentic Connections Groups” for medical professionalsWomen’s Health Issues, 27, 382-390. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2017.02.007

Luthar, S.S., & Eisenberg, N. (2017). Resilient adaptation among at-risk children: Harnessing science toward maximizing salutary environments. Child Development, 88, 337–349. doi:10.1111/cdev.1273m.

Infurna, F.J., & Luthar, S.S. (2016a). Resilience to major life stressors is not as common as thoughtPerspectives on Psychological Science, 11, 175 –194. DOI: 10.1177/1745691615621271

Luthar, S. S., Crossman, E. J., & Small, P. J. (2015). Resilience and adversity. In R.M. Lerner and M. E. Lamb (Eds.). Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (7th Edition, Vol. III, pp. 247-286). New York: Wiley.

Recent publications: Blogs

Luthar, S. S.  (2018).  Many teens drink. Rich ones like Kavanaugh are more likely to abuse alcoholWashington Post, September 28.

Luthar, S. S. (2018). Middle-school 'popularity' can backfire over time: Peer popularity presages high substance use at age 18Psychology Today, September 7.

Luthar, S. S. (2018). Reducing over-the-top pressure on our children: Exemplary actions from one high-achieving communityPsychology Today, June 26.

Luthar, S. S. (2017). What's needed from Professors: Modeling eminence in scholarship along with commitment to doing for othersPsychology Today, December 12.

Luthar, S. S. (2017). When being a stay-at-home mom is not really a “choice”: The need for reliable, high quality child carePsychology Today, October 23.

Luthar, S.S. (2017). Our kids are not all right: High-achieving schools and risks for addictionPsychology Today, June 13.

Luthar, S. S. (2017). Mothering mothers: “Authentic Connections” fostered in the workplacePsychology Today, May 13.

Luthar, S. S., & Ciciolla, L. (2016). Why mothers of tweens – not babies – are the most depressedAeon Opinions, April 4.

Public Work (for more, see here)

Dr. Luthar regularly shares findings of her work to stakeholders (parents, school administrators and policy makers) either through in-person presentations or interviews with journalists.  Examples include the following:

In the news and more!

Luthar's work on parents, pressure, kids and affluence hits the media outlets and continues to raise awareness.

ASU Now, How parents' ambitions for kids can backfire (28 Nov, 2016).

Phys.Org News, Parents should avoid pressuring young children over grades, study says (29 Nov 2016).

Free Press Journal, Pressuring kids over grades hinders their success later in life (1 Dec 2016).

AZ Central, Pushy parents who prioritize GPA are actually hurting their kids, says ASU study (2 Dec 2016).

From the Wall Street Journal, "When to Let Children Quit. Over-scheduled lives lead to questions of whether to stop an activity; teaches decision-making and relieves family tensions"  “It’s hard for children,” says Suniya Luthar, Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. “Harder for parents.” (24 Aug 2016). 

The influence of affluence

Bloomberg Business Week, Affluenza Anonymous: Rehab for the Young, Rich, and Addicted (21 Nov 2016).

Dr. Suniya Luthar speaks in Wilton, CT about "affluenza" and the elevated anxiety levels in affluent teens (16 Aug 2016).

Suniya Luthar talks about her research with adolecents from affluent families in Money: wealth and expectations, 612 ABC Brisbane (29 July 2016).

 Reuters. Sometimes ‘poor little rich kids’ really are poor little rich kids. (5 Jan 2016).


Media seeks Luthar's expertise for understanding high profile affluenza case!

Recent stories on resilience

The New York Times,  When a Spouse Dies, Resilience Can Be Uneven  by Department of Psychology faculty Frank J. Infurna and Suniya S. Luthar using a unique data set gathered annually for 13 years in Australia (26 Sep 2016).

On KJZZ, Why our resilience may rely more on relationships than personal fortitude : an interview with Dr. Suniya Luthar (posted 20 Sep 2016).

Moms and stress

Inside Higher Ed: Academic Minute. Mothers of Tweens with Dr. Suniya Luthar. Posted online 7 july 2016.

Wall Street Journal, Moms’ Middle-School Blues: Mothers feel most stressed about parenting when their children are in middle school, new research shows. Posted online 17 may 2016.

ASU Now. Moms, you think babies are tough? Wait until middle school. Posted online 21 jan 2016.

Who Mothers Mommy? Factors That Contribute to Mothers' Well-Being Luthar, S.S. & Cicciola, L.

 The Atlantic: The Silicon Valley Suicides. Why are so many kids with bright prospects killing themselves in Palo Alto?  Posted online dec 2015.

 ASU Now. Holiday stress have you pulling your hair out? ASU experts save the day with some insight into what causes stress and how to cope. Posted online 10 dec 2015.

National Academies on Science, Engineering and Medicine; Institute of Medicine. Committee on Supporting the Parents of Young Children: Fragility in Affluent Families and Implications for Parenting Research and Practice. Posted online 4/9/15.

New York Times. Growing Up on Easy Street Has Its Own Dangers. Posted online 1/9/15.

American Psychological Association Podcast. Episode 18, Speaking of Psychology: The mental price of affluence.