internalization of values and norms that is likely to underlie the impact of social group membership on specific behaviors (Deci and Ryan, 1985). Under optimal conditions, these processes lead to the internalization of prosocial and moral values and goals. It is important to note, however, that individuals can form quite strong connections with antisocial or problematic groups or individuals. This is very likely to happen when connections with more prosocial groups and organizations do not form because the individual either fails in these healthier environments or is excluded or pushed out by the prosocial groups themselves (Cairns and Cairns, 1994; Fine, 1991; Sampson and Laub, 1993). Community programs provide an excellent venue for providing the opportunity to become socially attached to positive social institutions and peer groups with positive social values.

There is less evidence for the importance of either the ability and desire to participate in multiple cultural settings or a commitment to civic engagement and service—not because the evidence is negative but because there have been so few studies focusing on these social developmental characteristics. The few existing studies provide preliminary support (e.g., Phalen et al., 1992; Yates and Youniss, 1998, 1999), but more research is needed, particularly given the strong theoretical reasons to believe that these two characteristics should be important in a multicultural society.


We have reviewed what is known about the relation of a set of personal and social assets widely acknowledged as important for development to both adolescent well-being and functioning and the successful transition into adulthood. We used three types of empirical studies in this review: studies linking the personal and social assets listed in Box 3– 1 to indicators of positive current development, studies linking these characteristics to indicators of future positive adult development, and experimental studies designed to change the asset under study. The indicators of current well-being include good mental health, good school performance, good peer relations, good problem-solving skills, and very low levels (or the absence) of involvement in a variety of problem behaviors, such as gang membership, drug and alcohol use, school failure, school dropout, delinquency, and early pregnancy. Indicators of positive development during late adolescence and adulthood include completing high school, completing higher education, adequate transition into the labor

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement