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Positive youth development in a crossnational perspective
A cross-national study

Research

Developmental assets and positive youth development outcomes among young people: a cross-national study

The cross national study
Within a cross-national perspective, we examine the extent to which developmental (internal and external) assets (proposed by Peter Benson and the Search Institute, Minneapolis) are accessible to young people and how these assets in turn relate to positive youth outcomes. The internal assets represent the intrapersonal competencies, skills, and self-perceptions of young people that develop during their interaction with others in their contexts, while the external assets represent the environmental, contextual, and relational features of the socializing systems of young people. In keeping with the Positive Youth Development (PYD), positive development occurs in the fusion of active, engaged and competent person with receptive, supportive and nurturing ecologies. We conceptualized positive outcomes in line with Richard Lerner’s “5 Cs” of PYD: Competence (in academic, social, vocational skills); Confidence (having a sense of mastery and future, positive identity, self-worth and self-efficacy); Character (having integrity, moral commitment, personal values, interpersonal values and skills, respect for societal and cultural rules); Connection (having healthy relation to community, friends, family and school); and Caring (showing empathy and sympathy). Peter Benson’s thriving indicators (such as Succeeds in school, Helps others, Values diversity, Maintains good health, Exhibits good leadership, Delays gratification and Overcomes adversity) are also used to assess positive youth outcomes. We examine various indicators of contribution (to self, family, and community) which is supposed to take place when you people are thriving or exhibiting positive outcomes. The cross-national study also takes up topics such as risk and health behaviours of young people and how they are related to the developmental assets and positive outcomes.

Participants
8000 youth and emerging adults (ages 16 to 29) in Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey), Africa (Ghana, Kenya, South Africa), Asia (China), Latin America (Brazil and Mexico) and New Zealand.

Topics of study
 

  • Internal assets (commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity)
  • External assets (support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time)
  • The 6Cs (Competence, Confidence, Character, Connection, Caring, and Contribution)
  • Risk behaviours, health behaviours, mental health and developmental outcomes.