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)
Research (for copies of earlier papers, click here)
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. & Ciciolla, L. (2016). Why mothers of tweens – not babies – are the most depressed. Aeon Opinions, April 4.
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
Wilton Bulletin, Oct 9, 2016. The serious risks affluent teens face.
The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2016. When a spouse dies, resilience can be uneven.
KJZZ Public Radio, Sept. 20, 2016. Why our resilience may rely more on relationships...
El Confidencial, Spain, Sept. 15, 2016 'Affluenza', la polémica enfermedad…
Global News, Canada, Sept. 9, 2016. Extra-curricular activities vs. play: which is better for kids?
ASU News, Aug 25, 2016. Military moms sought for special ASU groups.
Wall Street Journal, Aug 24, 2016. When to let children quit.
Psychology Today, Aug 16, 2016. Is empty nest a myth?
612 ABC Brisbane, Australia (podcast), July 29, 2016. Money, wealth, and expectation.
The Academic Minute (podcast), July 15, 2016. Mothers of Tweens.
NPR, June 6, 2016. Think mothering young kids is hard? Get ready for even tougher times.
Washington Post, March 25, 2016. Researchers have a new theory about how tragedies affect us.
Science Daily, March 19, 2016. Natural resilience to life stressors is not as common as thought.
The Times, UK, March 19, 2016. Stressed, depressed, lonely and anxious. Is your teenager OK,
The Washington Post, Jan 7, 2016. No such thing as 'affluenza'? Not so fast.
The Dallas Observer, Jan 7, 2016. Affluenza is a big surprise..are you kidding me?
NPR To the Point, Dec 28, 2015. Students and the pressure to perform.
The Times of India, Nov 22, 2015. The poor, little rich kids of Silicon Valley schools.
The Atlantic, Nov 17, 2015. The Silicon Valley suicides.
WebMD Radio, Nov 10, 2015. Being a Mother: Who takes care of the caregiver?
KInstantly U, Nov 2, 2015. This study struck a chord with moms,
Science Daily, Oct 29, 2015. Who mothers Mommy?,
Huffington Post, July 7, 2015. Is it possible to raise happy kids in affluence?
CNN, Jan 8, 2015. Believe it or not, there are challenges to growing up wealthy,
Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, April 9, 2015 (Open Session video). Fragility in affluent families and implications for parenting research and practice.
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.