Director of Applied Quantitative Research & Senior Research Scientist

Amy Syvertsen, PhD, is director of applied quantitative research and a senior research scientist at Search Institute. Her program of research blends the themes of developmental theory, adolescent civic engagement, and positive youth development. Her research focuses on understanding the core values and behaviors that promote social responsibility and participatory citizenship in young people. Her work seeks to advance our understanding of the contextual (family, school, community) and developmental underpinnings of thriving in childhood and adolescence. 


  • Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State
  • M.Ed., Youth and Family Education, Penn State
  • B.S., Family and Consumer Science Education, North Dakota State University


  • Youth civic development and engagement
  • Family strengths
  • Positive youth development
  • Adolescent prevention science
  • Measurement in applied and scientific contexts

Selected Recent Publications

Metzger, A., Syvertsen, A. K., Oosterhoff, B., Babskie, E., & Wray-Lake, L. (2016). How Children Understand Civic Actions: A Mixed Methods Perspective. Journal of Adolescent Research, 31(5), 507-535. doi: 10.1177/0743558415610002

Wray-Lake, L., Metzger, A., & Syvertsen, A. K. (2016). Measuring multidimensional constructs from a developmental perspective: An example from the field of civic development. Applied Developmental Science, 21, 266-284. doi: 10.1080/10888691.2016.1205495

Wray-Lake, L., Syvertsen, A. K., & Flanagan, C. A. (2016). Developmental change in social responsibility during adolescence: An ecological perspective. Developmental Psychology, 52, 130-142. doi: 10.1037/dev0000067

Syvertsen, A. K., Wray-Lake, L., Flanagan, C. A., Osgood, D. W., & Briddell, L. (2011). Thirty year trends in American adolescents’ civic engagement: A story of changing participation and educational differences. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21, 586-594. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00706.x

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