Amplifiers of Developmental and Negative Experiences in Organized Activities

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Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This study evaluated four sets of factors thought to affect adolescents’ developmental (positive) and negative experiences in organized youth activities. Based on survey data from a sample of 1,822 eleventh-grade students who completed a computer-administered Youth Experience Survey, the findings indicate that participation time, level of motivation, holding a lead role in an activity and the ratio of adults to youth were all independently related to youths’ reported developmental experiences in an organized activity. Those four factors were much more likely to account for variations in reported developmental experiences than was the type of activity.

The findings “suggest that developmental benefits of programs might be higher if youth were motivated by enjoyment and had lead roles more often,” the researchers concluded. The study was supported by a grant from the William T. Grant Foundation. Abstract free online. (217) 265 8413,

Marta Dehmlow contributed to this report.