Early Influences and Later Outcomes Associated With Developmental Trajectories of Eriksonian Fidelity

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Abstract

Although Eriksonian theory suggests that adolescents' sense of fidelity is a key component of healthy development, research on this psychosocial construct has been limited. The current study developed an index of youth fidelity, examined the developmental course of this construct, explored the influence of contextual factors on different fidelity trajectories, and tested if trajectories were associated with later indicators of adolescents' positive development. Participants included 1,941 ethnically diverse youth (61% female) participants in the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development who were recruited from schools and youth development programs across the United States. Results suggested that three types of developmental trajectories existed among youth: high and increasing, moderate and increasing, and low and decreasing. Fidelity group membership varied in relation to social relationships and psychosocial and behavioral characteristics (i.e., contribution, substance use, and delinquency). Girls were more likely than boys to be in the highest fidelity trajectories. Directions for future research and implications for enhancing the thriving of adolescents are discussed.

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