Social Behavior as a Transdiagnostic Marker of Resilience

Ruth Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The recent shift from psychopathology to resilience and from diagnosis to functioning requires the construction of transdiagnostic markers of adaptation. This review describes a model of resilience that is based on the neurobiology of affiliation and the initial condition of mammals that mature in the context of the mother's body and social behavior. The model proposes three tenets of resilience plasticity, sociality, and meaning and argues that coordinated social behavior stands at the core sustaining resilience. Two lines in the maturation of coordinated social behavior are charted, across animal evolution and throughout human development, culminating in the mature human reciprocity of empathy, mutuality, and perspective-taking. Cumulative evidence across ages and clinical conditions and based on our behavioral coding system demonstrates that social reciprocity, defined by plasticity at the individual, dyadic, and group levels, denotes resilience, whereas the two poles of disengagement/avoidance and intrusion/rigidity characterize specific psychopathologies, each with a distinct behavioral signature. Attention to developmentally sensitive markers and to the dimension of meaning in human sociality may open new, behavior-based pathways to resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-180
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual Review of Clinical Psychology
StatePublished - 7 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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  • Affiliative neuroscience
  • CIB
  • Coding Interactive Behavior
  • Oxytocin
  • Reciprocity
  • Resilience
  • Social behavior


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