Exploring the associations between middle adolescent romantic activity and positive youth development.
Beckmeyer Jonathon J,Weybright Elizabeth H
Journal of adolescence
INTRODUCTION:Although prior research has demonstrated romantic involvement can negatively impact adolescent well-being, it may also provide a context for developing characteristics of positive youth development (PYD). The present study explored the associations between adolescent romantic involvement and PYD. Study aim-1 determined if participation in different romantic activities was associated with PYD. Study aim-2 specifically focused on adolescents in romantic relationships, testing if relationship quality was associated with PYD. METHODS:The study was a secondary analysis of cross-sectional data from the age-15 assessment of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Study aim-1 used data from 826 15-year-olds (50% female) who reported their romantic socializing, dating, and relationship involvement. Study aim-2 used data from 190 15-year-olds (52% female) in romantic relationships who reported positive and negative interactions in their relationships. For both study aims, PYD was assessed as psychosocial maturity, peer competence, and school bonding. RESULTS:Based on hierarchical regression models, romantic socializing was positively associated with psychosocial maturity, peer competence, and school bonding; dating was positively associated with peer competence and school bonding; and relationship involvement was negatively associated with psychosocial maturity and school bonding. In terms of relationship quality, only one significant association emerged such that positive interactions were positively associated with peer competence. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, results supported the expectation that romantic involvement is associated with PYD during middle adolescence. However, the potential benefits of romantic involvement may be limited to the on-time romantic activities of romantic socializing and dating.