Development 1b

The following essay addresses the following question from Paper 2: Discuss strategies to build resilience.

Before you start marking this paper, make sure that you have carefully considered the question.

  • Notice that the question asks for "strategies." The student should have at least two clearly identified strategies that are discussed.
  • How the strategy actually is thought to build resilience should be addressed.
  • As the command term is "discuss", different perspectives on the topic need to be discussed. Simply evaluating studies is not an adequate approach to the question.

Resilience is the ability to recover from tragedy or major assaults on the developmental process. Resilience can be built by increasing protective factors within the individual, family and community.

There are protective factors within the individual that makes the individual more susceptible the resistance. A study that displays this is the Kauai longitudinal study. The aim was to support the idea that only a minority develops mental and behavioral disturbances. A large group of people was studied from the ages of 1-40. 1/3 of the group experienced risk factors. Of this 1/3, 2/3 had social problems by the age of 10 years old, and had committed crimes by the age of 18. The rest of the group, however, developed normally and went to live normal and stable lives. Thus, this group had internal protective factors that enabled them to build resilience to the risk factors that they were exposed to. Despite this study exemplifying the idea that there are protective factors within the individual, all the participants were from the same community, and thus it can be an issue to generalize to the rest of the population because it isn’t realistic of reflecting the general population, as not everyone is like that community. Thus, to build resilience, these individuals with innate resilience could be studied and thus whatever unique factors they have may be able to be coached into other individuals.

Protective factors should also be increased in the environment or community. By having a stable, and safe environment or community for children to develop in regardless of the risk factors they are exposed to, resilience can be built. Mahoney et. al conducted a study to see the effect of participating in after school activities on developing academic performance and motivation in disadvantaged children. Mahoney had a group of children participate in after school activities for varying lengths of time. These after school activities were meant to develop their academic performance and motivation. It was found that the students who participated in a full year of the after school activity program, had higher test scores, reading achievements and motivation. Since Mahoney et. al provided a safe and stable environment for the participants, they were able to build a protective factor and thus the children developed as they should normally despite the risk factors they’re exposed to. Although the activities were an attempt to provide a safe environment for the children to develop properly despite the risk factors, the participants’ test scores, reading achievements and motivation simply for the fact that they were receiving additional help academically and thus because they were doing better, their motivation may have increased as a result as well. Despite this, risk factors do hinder academic performance, and if providing an after school activity to help academically, causes one to perform better academically, it can still be deemed a positive aspect to have in a community that has a great amount of risk factor exposure to children. Thus this study by Mahoney et. al can still be examined effectively in terms of being a technique to increase protective factors in the environment or community.

Protective factors in the environment can also be increased in the family. By being stably attached to at least one adult that is sensitive to the individual’s needs, this causes the individual’s resilience to build greatly. Coan, Schaefer & Davidson conducted a study to investigate the threat response depending on the type of support that is provided to the individual. Participants were put into an fMRI and shown 10 threatening and 10 non-threatening photos while receiving a slight electric shock in random sequence during the display of the photos. All participants were women. In condition 1, while the participants were in the fMRI held hands with the husband, condition 2 held a stranger’s hand, and condition 3 held no hand. It was found that condition 1 had the least threat response while condition 3 had the greatest threat response. This study has an issue of generalization due to the fact that all the participants were women, thus making it hard to generalize to the population. This study can also be deemed as not natural as participants are put into an fMRI, shown images, and receive electric shock, which would not occur generally when an individual is threatened in reality. Despite this study only investigating women, and the fact that it isn’t natural, the pathway of the threat response and the contrast of the threat response depending on the type of support that is provided does support the idea that being attached to a stable adult does lower the threat response and should duly noted. Using this data, providing an adult to stably attach to is essential in environments or communities that have a lot of exposure to risk factors.

Thus strategies to build resilience include identifying characteristics that build resilience within individuals, providing a stable and safe environment for children to develop in, and providing at least on stable adult to attach to that is sensitive to the children’s needs.

Knowledge and comprehension

The first argument is very confusing. The argument is that protective factors are "internal." This is not correct. The study did not examine biological roots of resilience. Overall, the student has only addressed protective factors and included relevant research. However, the research is not always well described and there is not a clear understanding of protective factors. 4 marks.

Critical thinking

Very limited evidence of critical thinking. The focus is on the generalizability of the research, rather than the question of how protective factors may actually build resilience. 3 marks.


The essay is for the most part clearly written, but it does not focus on the command term. 2 marks.

Total marks and final grade

Total marks: 9/11 IB score: 4

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