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Table 2 Characteristics of theory reports

From: What is positive youth development and how might it reduce substance use and violence? A systematic review and synthesis of theoretical literature

Author and title Stated aims Existing theories cited
Benson et al. [19] Youth development, developmental assets, and public policy 1. Describes the strength-based youth development approach by comparing it to and contrasting it with the deficit-based orientation to successful development.
2. Discusses the theoretical and empirical basis of the developmental asset framework as a prime exemplar of positive youth development, a comprehensive conceptualization of developmental well-being, and a generator of knowledge regarding the developmental pathways of young people.
3. Identifies relevant social and cultural dynamics affecting youth, considers their implication for youth development policy, and highlights a number of public policies from around the country that reflect the tenets and unfolding wisdom of healthy youth development.
4. Assessing the socio-political prospects for developmental principles and knowledge to actually inform and shape public policy for young people.
Ecological model of human development
Benson [18]
Developmental assets: an overview of theory, research and practice
1. Discusses the concepts of developmental assets, asset building communities and asset building society.
2. Discusses the 4-H survey in relation to assets and damaging behaviours.
Developmental systems theory
Action theory of development
Ecological model of human development
Benson [20]
Positive youth development and the prevention of youth aggression and violence
1. Reports analyses on several databases of 6th-12th grade students in the United States, to explore the linkage of positive relationships, opportunities, skills, and values, called Developmental Assets, to prevention of youth aggressive and violent behaviours. Ecological Theory
Benson et al. [21]
The contribution of the developmental assets framework to positive youth development theory and practice
1. Synthesises literature on developmental assets.
2. Discusses the recent development of: the Developmental Asset Profile, an instrument designed, in part, to assess change-over-time; the utilization of asset measures in international research; the expansion of the assets framework to early childhood and young adults; and new research using latent class analysis (LCA) to identify classes or subgroups of youth.
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Berg et al. [22] Youth Action Research for Prevention: a multi-level intervention designed to increase efficacy and empowerment among urban youth 1. Reports on the theory of change for and empirical evaluation of the Youth Action Research for Prevention program. Ecological systems theory
Identity theory
Social learning theory
Social construction theory
Critical Transformational Theories
Busseri et al. [23]
Breadth and intensity: salient, separable, and developmentally significant dimensions of structured youth activity involvement
1. Presents a theory-based framework for studying structured activity involvement (SAI) as a context for positive youth development based on two key dimensions: breadth and intensity of involvement.
2. Demonstrates the separatability, salience, and developmental significance of these two dimensions.
Identity development theory
Life-span development processes of selective optimization with compensation
Concept of ‘affordances’ in Gibson’s ecological theory of human perception
Catalano et al. [24] Prevention science and positive youth development: competitive or cooperative frameworks? 1. Examines the convergence in the critiques and recommendations for the future of programs to promote healthy development and prevent problem behaviors among children and adolescents. Attachment theory
Identity development theory
Ecological model of human development
Ginwright and Cammarota [25]New Terrain in Youth Development: The Promise of a Social Justice Approach. 1. Presents a youth development model that addresses structures of power and teaches youth to understand how their opportunities are circumscribed by larger political, economic, and social forces.
2. Critiques two dominant approaches to youth development which have oppressed urban youth of colour.
Critical consciousness theory
Kia-Keating et al. [26] Protecting and promoting: an integrative conceptual model for healthy development of adolescents 1. Draws on extant research to delineate linkages between the risk and resilience and positive youth development literatures. -
Kim et al. [27] Toward a new paradigm in substance abuse and other problem behavior prevention for youth: youth development and empowerment approach 1. Addresses a paradigm shift taking place in the field of substance abuse prevention directed for youth.
2. Introduces an innovative approach to substance abuse and other problem behaviour prevention that reflects this shift in prevention paradigm.
Social control theory
Social learning theory
Social development model
Problem behavior theory
Expectations-states theory
Lee [28] Construction of an integrated positive youth development conceptual framework for the prevention of the use of psychotropic drugs among adolescents 1. Constructs an integrated conceptual framework for the prevention of adolescents’ use and abuse of psychotropic drugs.
2. Provides empirical support for integrating a positive youth development perspective in the revised model.
Social learning theory
Symbolic interaction theory
Operant conditioning theory
Lerner and Lerner [29] Toward a New Vision and Vocabulary About Adolescence: Theoretical, Empirical, and Applied Bases of a ‘Positive Youth Development’ Perspective Sets out a new vision and vocabulary about adolescence in terms of theoretical, empirical, and applied bases of a ‘positive youth development’ perspective. Developmental systems theory
Lerner et al. [30] Individual and contextual bases of thriving in adolescence: a view of the issues 1. Describes the relational developmental systems theory-based, positive youth development (PYD) perspective that frames much of contemporary research about health and positive development across the adolescent period and that, more specifically, frames the 4-H Study of PYD. Bioecological theory
Action theory models of intentional, goal-directed behaviours
Life-course theory
Dynamic systems theory
Holistic person-context interaction theory
Developmental systems formulations
Perkins et al. [31] Community Youth Development: A Partnership for Action 1. Introduces the concept of Community Youth Development. -
Roth and Brooks-Gunn [12] Youth development programs: risk, prevention and policy 1. Focuses on the promise and reality of youth development programs.
2. Reviews the available evidence about program effectiveness.
3. Defines the elements of youth development programs based on theoretical writings and ethnographic studies.
4. Investigates the reality in two ways, by mapping the defining principles of youth development to practice by looking at which elements are present in successful programs, and by investigating the relation between these elements and program outcomes.
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Schwartz et al. [32] Addressing the challenges and opportunities for today’s youth: toward an integrative model and its implications for research and intervention. 1. Calls for, and proposes some tenets of, model building in adolescent psychosocial development.
2. Suggests that there is a need for a model that draws from the risk-protection approach, from which many prevention science approaches are drawn, and the applied developmental science perspective, from which many positive youth development approaches are drawn.
Selection, Optimization and Compensation Model
Theory of planned behaviour