Resources and resilience in the transition to adulthood: continuity and change

Dev Psychopathol. 2004 Fall;16(4):1071-94. doi: 10.1017/s0954579404040143.


Patterns of continuity and change in competence and resilience over the transition to adulthood were examined in relation to adversity and psychosocial resources, with a focus on adaptive resources that may be particularly important for this transition. Variable-focused and person-focused analyses drew on data from the Project Competence longitudinal study of a school cohort followed over 20 years from childhood through emerging adulthood (EA) into the young adulthood (YA) years with excellent retention (90%). Success in age-salient and emerging developmental tasks from EA to YA was examined in a sample of 173 of the original participants with complete data on adversity, competence, and key resources. Regressions and extreme-group analyses indicated striking continuity in competence and resilience, yet also predictable change. Success in developmental tasks in EA and YA was related to core resources originating in childhood (IQ, parenting quality, socioeconomic status) and also to a set of EA adaptive resources that included planfulness/future motivation, autonomy, adult support, and coping skills. EA adaptive resources had unique predictive significance for successful transitions to adulthood, both overall and for the small group of individuals whose pattern of adaptation changed dramatically from maladaptive to resilient over the transition. Results are discussed in relation to the possibility that the transition to adulthood is a window of opportunity for changing the life course.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Personality Development*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Environment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires