Character virtues are necessary to “fulfill our potential as human beings” (Templeton, 2013). Developmental scientists argue that childhood and adolescence are critical times to foster these virtues. Is this true? And if so, what kinds of experiences are needed to facilitate acquiring these character virtues? We argue that organized after-school activities help keep youth on a virtuous path. Yet, little to no research exists on these issues. We will use cutting-edge statistics on two existing longitudinal data sets to answer these questions. Our findings will chart changes in each of five specific character virtues and the interrelations among those virtues across the first three decades of life. Our findings will also describe which after-school activities are most impactful. The proposed project outcomes will build the field’s knowledge of youth’s character virtue development, influence best practices in organized activities.
Our Main Questions:
- What are the developmental trajectories of character virtues from childhood and adolescence ?
- What aspects of youth’s organized after-school activities help support youth’s positive character virtue development?
Five character virtues that we focus on:
- Hard Work
- Emotion Regulation
- Prosocial Behavior
- Cooperative Behavior
This project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation.