In this multilevel investigation, resilience in adaptive functioning among maltreated and nonmaltreated low-income children (N = 677) was examined in relation to the regulation of two stress-responsive adrenal steroid hormones, cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), as well as the personality constructs of ego resiliency and ego control. Maltreatment status was not related to differences in average levels of morning or afternoon cortisol or DHEA. However, lower morning cortisol was related to higher resilient functioning, but only in nonmaltreated children. In contrast, among physically abused children, high morning cortisol was related to higher resilient functioning. Morning and afternoon DHEA was negatively related to resilient functioning. Although diurnal change in cortisol was not related to resilience, for DHEA, maltreated children with high resilience showed an atypical rise in DHEA from morning to afternoon. Morning and afternoon cortisol/DHEA ratios were positively related to resilient functioning, but did not interact with maltreatment status. Ego resiliency and ego control strongly differentiated maltreated and nonmaltreated children, and the personality variables were substantially predictive of resilience. When considered together, demonstrated effects of personality, cortisol, and DHEA maintained independent contributions in predicting resilience among high-risk youth.
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