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Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence 12/2015

18-08-2015 | Empirical Research

Developmental Trajectories of Youth Character: A Five-Wave Longitudinal Study of Cub Scouts and Non-Scout Boys

Auteurs: Jun Wang, Kaitlyn A. Ferris, Rachel M. Hershberg, Richard M. Lerner

Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence | Uitgave 12/2015

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Abstract

Youth development programs, such as the Boy Scouts of America, aim to develop positive attributes in youth (e.g., character virtues, prosocial behaviors, and positive civic actions), which are necessary for individuals and societies to flourish. However, few developmental studies have focused on how specific positive attributes develop through participation in programs such as the Boy Scouts of America. As part of the Character and Merit Project, this article examined the developmental trajectories of character and other positive attributes, which are of focal concern of the Boy Scouts of America and the developmental literature. Data were collected from 1398 Scouts (M = 8.59 years, SD = 1.29 years, Range 6.17–11.92 years) and 325 non-Scout boys (M = 9.06 years, SD = 1.43 years, Range 6.20–11.81 years) over five waves of testing across a two-and-half-year period. Latent growth-curve analyses of self-report survey data examined the developmental trajectories of the attributes. Older youth rated themselves lower than younger participants on helpfulness, reverence, thriftiness, and school performance. However, all youth had moderately high self-ratings on all the attributes. Across waves, Scouts’ self-ratings increased significantly for cheerfulness, helpfulness, kindness, obedience, trustworthiness, and hopeful future expectations. Non-Scout boys’ self-ratings showed no significant change for any attributes except for a significant decrease in religious reverence among non-Scout boys from religious institutions. We discuss implications for positive youth development and for the role of the Boy Scouts of America programming in character development.

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Voetnoten
1
We also obtained parental education level and family income information from the participants’ parents. However, we were not specifically interested in examining how these variables might influence the developmental trajectories of youth character attributes in the current study because we had no theory-predicated rationale for doing so. In addition, we had fewer parental responses to link to youth responses—896 Scouts’ parents and 276 non-Scout boys’ parents reported their education levels; 828 Scouts’ parents and 264 non-Scout boys’ parents reported their income levels. We conducted analyses to decide if these variables should be included in the analyses. We learned that Scouts’ parents reported significantly higher levels of education and income than the non-Scout boys’ parents (M edu  = 5.78 for Scouts’ parents, M edu  = 5.38 for non-Scouts’ parents on a 9-point scale; M income  = 4.74 for Scouts’ parents, M income  = 4.20 for non-Scouts’ parents on a 7-point scale). However, neither parental education nor family income level was consistently and/or significantly associated with any of the youth reported character attributes across the five waves of data collection. Therefore, we decided to exclude these variables in our analyses for a parsimonious presentation of the developmental trajectories.
 
2
We have also examined quadratic and cubic models with the data. The growth factors in the quadratic models were very small and not statistically significant and the cubic models were not computable. Thus we contend that the linear models were the most parsimonious for our data. We report results from the linear models in this article.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Developmental Trajectories of Youth Character: A Five-Wave Longitudinal Study of Cub Scouts and Non-Scout Boys
Auteurs
Jun Wang
Kaitlyn A. Ferris
Rachel M. Hershberg
Richard M. Lerner
Publicatiedatum
18-08-2015
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Journal of Youth and Adolescence / Uitgave 12/2015
Print ISSN: 0047-2891
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-6601
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0340-y