University of California Santa Barbara

Project Covitality


The covitality principle proposes that more is better. Youths who develop various social and psychological skills and covitality assets will be more likely to traverse childhood on a positive trajectory, with an increased likelihood of having beneficial developmental outcomes. This principle is analogous to the cumulative risk principle evoked in risk and resilience research, which has found that no single risk factor is determinative of adverse outcomes, such as a higher probability of youth involvement in gang membership and violence. Instead, multiple risks produce an accumulation of disadvantages, increasing the odds of various negative consequences. Previous research examining the covitality principle found that social and psychological assets had an accumulated advantage effect. They were associated with youth reporting health-promoting behaviors and having positive mental well-being. The contrary was true. Youths with fewer covitality assets reported aversive developmental experiences, like high psychological distress, physical and relational victimization, and victimization fears.