What is the Scale of Protective Factors?


The Scale of Protective Factors (SPF) is a measure of aspects of social relationships, planning behaviours and confidence. These factors contribute to psychological resilience in emerging adults and adults.

Brief History

The SPF was developed by Dr. Elisabeth Ponce-Garcia at the science of protective factors laboratory (SPF Lab) to capture multiple aspects of adult resilience. A Confirmatory Factor Analysis was subsequently published as collaborative research. The SPF was found to assess resilience effectively in both men and women, across risk and socio-economic status, and ethnic/racial categories.

In order to verify effectiveness in comparison to other measures, Madewell and Ponce-Garcia (2016) analysed the SPF and four other commonly used measures of adult resilience. They found that the SPF was the only measure that assessed social and cognitive aspects and that it outperformed three other measures and performed comparably with a fourth.

The structure of the SPF in comparison to four other adult resilience measures, as well as comparison data, is available as a Data in Brief article. Noticing the absence of research examining the effectiveness of adult resilience measures in child or adult sexual assault, Ponce-Garcia, Madewell and Brown (2016) demonstrated SPF’s effectiveness in that domain. An investigation of the effectiveness of the SPF in the Southern Plains Tribes of the Native American and American Indian community in 2016.

A brief version of the 24 item SPF was developed in 2019 to result in 12 item measure that can be taken as a self-assessment. The SPF-24 and the SPF-12 have been used throughout the United States and in several other countries to include Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, Australia, Malesia, Paraguay, Mexico, and Canada. It is listed as a resource by Harvard University, was included in the United States Army Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP-Fort Sill, OK), and is provided by the State of Oklahoma ReEntry Programme.


The SPF consists of twenty-four statements for which individuals are asked to rate the degree to which each statement describes them. The SPF assesses a wider range of protective factors than other scales. The SPF is the only measure that has been shown to assess social and cognitive protective factors. The SPF includes four sub-scales that indicate the strengths and weaknesses that contribute to overall resilience. The SPF is the only measure to have been used in measuring resilience in sexual assault survivors within the United States.


The SPF consists of four sub-scales, two social protective factors and two cognitive protective factors.

Social Subscales

Social support measures the availability of social resources in the form of family and/or friends. Social skill measures the ability to make and maintain relationships. The two should be positively correlated. Higher scores on the social sub-scales indicate unity with friends and/or family, friend/family group optimism and general friend/family support.

Cognitive Subscales

The goal efficacy sub-scale measures confidence in the ability to achieve goals. The planning and prioritising behaviour sub-scale measures the ability to recognise the relative importance of tasks, the tendency to approach tasks in order of importance, and the use of lists for organisation.


Adding the scores from the four sub-scales results in an overall resilience score. Adding scores from either the two social sub-scales or the two cognitive sub-scales results in a social resilience or cognitive resilience score, respectively. The sub-scale scores can also be viewed as an individual profile of strengths and deficits to indicate priorities for therapeutic plans.

This additive approach could theoretically allow varying subscale scores to cancel each other out and incorrectly indicate low overall resilience. However, research shows that social and cognitive characteristics work together to support resilience. This concern is also not supported by the characteristics of the SPF. Rather than assessing the number of friends or the frequency of social interaction, the SPF assesses the level of comfort in interacting socially. Similarly, rather than assessing the number of goals or tasks, the SPF assesses confidence in reaching goals once set.

The sub-scales are moderately positively correlated and that they all contribute to overall resilience.

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What is Infantilisation?


Infantilisation is the prolonged treatment of one who has a mental capacity greater than that of a child as though they are a child.


When used in reference to teenagers or adolescents, the term typically suggests that teenagers and their potential are underestimated in modern society, and/or that adolescents are often regarded as though they are younger than their actual age.

Studies have shown that an individual, when infantilised, is overwhelmingly likely to feel disrespected. Such individuals may report a sense of transgression akin to dehumanisation.

There can be an overlap between the terms “infantilisation” and “patronisation”, although infantilisation derives more specifically from a sense of age group or hierarchical seniority on the part of those responsible for infantilisation. The act of infantilising others has been associated with narcissists.

Infantilisation may also refer to a process when a child is being treated in a manner appropriate only for younger children.

In property law, infantilisation is defined as “the restriction of an individual’s or group’s autonomy based on the failure to recognize and respect their full capacity to reason.” When infantilisation is coupled with property takeover, the result is a dignity taking.

There are several examples of dignity takings, including wage theft from undocumented workers where the power imbalance allows employers to rob workers of their agency and avenues for redress; the dispossession of property from African Americans in the South Carolina sea islands by predatory tax buyers who routinely infantilised their victims by overwhelming them with paperwork and timelines to accelerate foreclosures; and the unequal division of matrimonial property in southern Nigeria following divorce that assumes women are less capable of managing property and thus infantilises them.

Reviewing the Evidence of Gut Microbiota & Mental Health in Adults

Research Paper Title

The gut microbiota and mental health in adults.


A growing body of evidence point toward the bidirectional gut microbiota-brain axis playing a role in mental health.

Most of this research is conducted on animals.

In this review the researchers summarise and comment upon recent studies evaluating the gut microbiome in mental health in humans.

Further support for the relevance of the bidirectional gut microbiota-brain communication in mood disorders has been presented, such as the effect of probiotics on brain connectivity and mental health outcomes and pregnancy related stress on gut microbiota in the newborn child.

However, the heterogeneity between studies precludes conclusions regarding differences in microbiota composition in mental disease and health and many of the studies are limited by a cross-sectional design, small sample sizes and multiple comparisons.

Thus, well-designed longitudinal studies with larger sample size, accounting for confounders are needed.


Jarbrink-Sehgal, E. & Andreasson, A. (2020) The gut microbiota and mental health in adults. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 62, pp.102-114. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2020.01.016. Epub 2020 Mar 9.