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Emmy E. Werner is an American developmental psychologist. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska and is currently a professor emeritus in the Department of Human and Community Development at the University of California at Davis.
Dr. Werner is best known in the field of child development for her leadership of a thirty year longitudinal study of 698 infants on the Hawaiian island of Kauai—the island's entire birth cohort for the year 1955. The study supported the conventional wisdom that many children exposed to reproductive and environmental risk factors (for instance, premature birth coupled with an unstable household and a mentally ill mother) go on to experience more problems with deliquency, mental and physical health and family stability than children exposed to fewer such risk factors.
However, among Werner's most significant findings was that many high-risk children displayed resilience and developed into normal, happy adults despite their problematic development histories. She and her fellow researchers identified a number of protective factors in the lives of these resilient individuals which, they hypothesized, helped to balance out risk factors at critical periods in their development. Among these factors were a strong bond with a nonparent caretaker (such as an aunt, babysitter, or teacher) and involvement in a church or community group like the YMCA.
Dr. Werner's page on the UC Davis website.
Werner, EE. (1992). The children of Kauai: Resiliency and recovery in adolescence and adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health, Jun, 13, 262-268.
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