Positive Youth Development in the United States: Research Findings on Evaluations of Positive Youth Development Programs. Promotes Competencies


The positive youth development construct of competence covers five areas of youth functioning, including social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and moral competencies. Programs are defined as promoting competence if they focus on building specific skills in these areas.

The multiple dimensions of competence began to be recognized in the past two decades (Gardner, 1993; Zigler & Berman, 1983). More recently, Weissberg & Greenberg (1997) urged that competence should be viewed and measured in research studies as a developmental outcome. While the enhancement of competence can help to prevent other negative outcomes (Botvin et al., 1995), competence can be specified and measured as an important outcome itself, indicative of positive development.

In recent years, many competence promotion efforts have sought to develop skills to integrate feelings (emotional competence) with thinking (cognitive competence) and actions (behavioral competence), in order to help the child achieve specific goals.