Over the course of Masten’s career in resilience science, which began in the 1970s, she has uncovered adaptive processes and factors that support the ability of individuals to overcome adversity and harmful experiences.
“As I studied children and families dealing with war, disasters, poverty, violence and homelessness, I found a consistent set of surprisingly ordinary but powerful factors at work,” Masten said in a release announcing her award. “Resilience didn’t depend on special qualities but on a capacity to adapt that we develop over time as we are nurtured, learn and gain experience.”
Some of the factors Masten coined as “ordinary magic” that encourage resiliency include supportive relationships, a sense of belonging, self-control, problem-solving skills, optimism, motivation, and a sense of purpose.
The Grawemeyer awards were created in 1984 with a donation from Kentucky entrepreneur H. Charles Grawemeyer. They honor seminal ideas in music composition, education, religion, psychology and improving world order, emphasizing the impact a single idea can have on the world. The award comes with a $100,00 prize.
Nicholaus Noles, the director of the psychology award at the University of Louisville, noted that Masten’s findings have shaped policy and practice in many fields outside psychology, including pediatrics, school counseling, social work, and disaster response. More than 40,000 people from 180+ countries have enrolled in Masten’s online course about resilience of children in war and disaster.
To read a Star Tribune article on Masten’s award, click here.