Sparks and Thriving

Search Institute has engaged in extensive research on why some young people thrive, while others just "get by". Many factors play a role, but a key dimension is what we call “Sparks.” Below are the key research publications that have grown out of this work.

Learn more about how sparks are a gateway to a young person's developmental relationships >>

Books

2008
Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers, Peter L. Benson.

Research Reports

2010
Teen Voice 2010: Relationships that Matter to America’s 15-Year-Olds, Peter C. Scales, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, and Peter L. Benson

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2009
Teen Voice 2009: The Untapped Strengths of 15-Year-Olds, Peter C. Scales, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, and Peter L. Benson

Research Briefs

2010
Finding the Student Spark: Missed Opportunities in School Engagement, Peter C. Scales

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Download a one-page summary

Peer-Reviewed Articles and Scholarly Chapters

Benson, P. L., & Scales, P. C. (2009). The definition and preliminary measurement of thriving in adolescence. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(1), 85–104. doi:10.1080/17439760802399240

Benson, P. L., & Scales, P. C. (2011). Thriving and sparks. In R. J. R. Levesque (Ed.), Encyclopedia of adolescence (pp. 2963–2976). New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-1695-2

King, P. E., Dowling, E. M., Mueller, R. A., White, K., Schultz, W., Osborn, P., Dickerson, E., Bobek, D. L., Lerner, R. M., Benson, P. L., & Scales, P. C. (2005). Thriving in adolescence: The voices of youth-serving practitioners, parents, and early and late adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 25(1), 94-112.

Scales, P. C., & Benson, P. L. (2005). Adolescence and thriving. In C. B. Fisher, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Encyclopedia of applied developmental science: Vol. 1 (pp. 15–19). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., Leffert, N., & Blyth, D. A. (2000). The contribution of developmental assets to the prediction of thriving among adolescents. Applied Developmental Science, 4, 27–46.

Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2010). Adolescent thriving: The role of sparks, relationships, and empowerment. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40 (3), 263-277. doi: 10.1007/s10964-010-9578-6

Theokas, C., Almerigi, J., Lerner, R.M., Dowling, E.M., Benson, P.L., Scales, P.C., & von Eye, A. (2005). Conceptualizing and modeling individual and ecological asset components of thriving in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 25(1), 113-143.