Familial and Temperamental Predictors of Resilience in Children at Risk for Conduct Disorder and Depression

Dev Psychopathol. Summer 2007;19(3):701-27. doi: 10.1017/S0954579407000351.


In this study, we evaluated predictors of resilience among 8- to 12-year-old children recruited from primarily low socioeconomic status neighborhoods, 117 of whom suffered from clinical levels of conduct problems and/or depression, and 63 of whom suffered from no significant symptoms. Tests of interactions were conducted between (a) paternal antisocial behavior and maternal depression and (b) several physiological indices of child temperament and emotionality in predicting (c) children's conduct problems and depression. Both internalizing and externalizing outcomes among children were associated specifically with maternal melancholic depression, and not with nonmelancholic depression. In addition, low levels of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) among children conferred significant risk for depression, regardless of maternal melancholia, whereas high RSA offered partial protection. Furthermore, high levels of maternal melancholia conferred significant risk for child depression, regardless of paternal antisocial behavior, whereas low levels of maternal melancholia offered partial protection. Finally, low levels of electrodermal responding (EDR) conferred significant risk for conduct problems, regardless of paternal antisocial behavior, whereas high EDR offered partial protection. None of the identified protective factors offered complete immunity from psychopathology. These findings underscore the complexity of resilience and resilience-related processes, and suggest several potential avenues for future longitudinal research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Arrhythmia, Sinus / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmia, Sinus / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Conduct Disorder / diagnosis
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Conduct Disorder / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Parents / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament*