The Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize 2012 honored the leading international developmental and clinical psychologist Professor Dante Cicchetti. For more than 30 years, Cicchetti has been researching the results of child maltreatment and neglect as well as the conditions that lead to resilience, the psychological capacity to withstand difficult life conditions.
What is special about his work is his investigation of psychosocial aspects, such as the familial circumstances of a child, in connection with neurobiological and genetic variables. With this multi-dimensional approach, he pursues the goal of helping to decode the multi-layered, highly complex construct of human resilience and of developing corresponding measures to promote it.
The connection of practical intervention with solid research is a matter of great concern to Cicchetti and forms the foundation of his work that has led to groundbreaking findings: thus, for example, he was able to dismiss the prejudice that poverty and child maltreatment are directly connected and that their developmental results were the same. He proved that the impact of violence, maltreatment and abuse of both body and mind changes in the course of a life. Comparative studies of maltreated and non-maltreated preschool children that observed angry facial expressions show a clear difference in the level and distribution of activity in the brain.