Suniya S. Luthar, Ph.D.
Suniya Luthar is Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and Professor Emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College. After receiving her Ph.D. 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). A mother of two grown children herself, her recent scientific focus has been on motherhood; studies aim to illuminate what best helps women negotiate the challenges of this life-transforming role, and to apply these insights in interventions toward fostering their resilience.
BS Child Development (Honors), Lady Irwin College, Delhi University, India, 1978
MS Child Development, Lady Irwin College, Delhi University, India, 1980
PhD (Distinction) Developmental/Clinical Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, 1990
(For complete list and links to articles, please see cv)
Infurna, F.J. & Luthar, S. S. (In press). The multidimensional nature of resilience to spousal loss. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Infurna, F.J., & Luthar, S.S. (2016a). Resilience to major life stressors is not as common as thought. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11, 175 –194. DOI: 10.1177/1745691615621271
Infurna, F.J., & Luthar, S.S. (2016b). Resilience has been and will always be, but rates declared are inevitably suspect: Reply to Galatzer-Levy and Bonanno. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11, 199 –201. DOI: 10.1177/1745691615621281
Luthar, S.S. (2015). Mothering mothers. Research in Human Development. 12, 295–303. doi: 10.1080/15427609.2015.1068045
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.
Luthar, S.S., & Ciciolla, L. (2015). What it feels like to be a mother: Variations by children’s developmental stages. Developmental Psychology. http://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/dev0000062
Luthar, S.S., & Ciciolla, L. (2015). Who mothers Mommy? Factors that contribute to mothers’ well-being. Developmental Psychology, 51, 1812-1823. http://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/dev0000051
Luthar, S. S., Barkin, S. H., & Crossman, E. J. (2013). “I can, therefore I must”: Fragility in the upper-middle classes. Development and Psychopathology, 25th Anniversary Special Issue, 25, 1529-1549. PMCID: PMC4215566
Luthar, S. S., & Schwartz, B. (2016). Sometimes ‘poor little rich kids’ really are poor little rich kids. The Great Debate, Reuters.com, January 5.
Luthar, S. S. (2014). Girls Interrupted: Why colleges shouldn’t recruit athletes before high school.
American Psychological Association Public Interest Directorate blog, February 27,
Luthar, S. S. (2014). Let kids face consequences. Raising Arizona, May 2014.
Luthar, S. S. (2013). The problem with rich kids. Psychology Today, Nov-Dec, 62-69, 87. http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201310/the-problem-rich-kids
Is empty nest a myth? Psychology Today, Aug 16, 2016
Money, wealth, and expectation. 612 ABC Brisbane, Australia (podcast), July 29, 2016
Mothers of Tweens - The Academic Minute (podcast), July 15, 2016
Think mothering young kids is hard? Get ready for even tougher times - NPR, June 6, 2016
Researchers have a new theory about how tragedies affect us., Washington Post, March 25, 2016
Natural resilience to major life stressors is not as common as thought, Science Daily, March 19, 2016.
Stressed, depressed, lonely and anxious. Is your teenager OK, The Times, UK, March 19, 2016
No such thing as 'affluenza'? Not so fast, The Washington Post, Jan 7, 2016
Affluenza is a big surprise..are you kidding me?, The Dallas Observer, Jan 7, 2016
Students and the pressure to perform, NPR To the Point, Dec 28, 2015
The poor, little rich kids of Silicon Valley schools, The Times of India, Nov 22, 2015
The Silicon Valley suicides, The Atlantic, Nov 17, 2015
Being a Mother: Who takes care of the caregiver?, WebMD Radio, Nov 10, 2015
This study struck a chord with moms, KInstantly U, Nov 2, 2015
Who mothers Mommy?, Science Daily, Oct 29, 2015
Is it possible to raise happy kids in affluence?, Huffington Post, July 7, 2015
Believe it or not, there are challenges to growing up wealthy, CNN, Jan 8, 2015
Conducted within a developmental psychopathology framework, research by our group revolves around the construct of resilience and positive youth development (Luthar, 2003; Luthar, 2006; Luthar & Brown, 2007; Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000). 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 four major programs of research, each described more in detail below. The first involves middle- and high-school students growing up in relative affluence; across diverse samples, these youth have shown greater substance use and distress relative to national norms. In the second group of studies, we are attempting to understand what the experience of motherhood means from a developmental perspective. The third area encompasses prevention trials to foster resilience among at-risk upper middle class mothers, via a manualized group intervention, Authentic Connections Groups, an intervention based on the on the Relational Psychotherapy Mothers' Group program we previously tested with at-risk, low-income mothers. The final area of our work involves longitudinal follow-up of children of women with major psychiatric illnesses, to understand salient pathways to resilience and vulnerability.