Developmental Assets

In addition to developing tools and services for practitioners based on its research, Search Institute (often with colleagues in universities and other organizations) publishes research findings through reports and briefs, journal articles and chapters, and academic books. Below are selected research publications on its groundbreaking research on Developmental Assets.

Research Reports, Briefs, and Data Sheets


The Asset Approach: 40 Elements of Healthy Development (2017 Update)

Data Sheet: Developmental Assets among U.S. Youth: 2018 Update 

Data Sheet: Developmental Assets among U.S. Youth, by Race-Ethnicity 

Data Sheet: Developmental Assets among LGBT Youth 

Data Sheet: Developmental Assets Beyond North America 


25 Years of Developmental Assets: Personal Reflections (And a Little Data), Eugene C. Roehlkepartain


Developmental Assets and Sexual and Reproductive Health among 10 to 14 Year Olds in Uganda. Peter C. Scales, Maura Shramko, and Kim Ashburn 


Do Developmental Assets Make a Difference In Majority-World Contexts? Peter C. Scales, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, and Kathie Fraher


A Fragile Foundation: The State of Developmental Assets among American Youth (2nd Ed.), Peter L. Benson, Peter C. Scales, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, and Nancy Leffert


Developmental Assets: A Framework for Enriching Service-Learning, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain and Peter C. Scales

Sorting Out What Makes a Difference: Youth Development Findings from Camp Settings, Karla A. Henderson, Christopher A. Thurber, Marge Scanlin, and M. Deborah Bialeschki

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Keeping America’s Promises to Children and Youth: A Search Institute-Child Trends Report on the Results of the America’s Promise National Telephone Polls of Children, Teenagers, and Parents, Peter C. Scales, Peter L. Benson, Karen Bartig, Katherine Streit, Kristin A. Moore, Laura Lippman, Brett Brown, & Christina Theokas

Positive Youth Development So Far: Core Hypotheses and Their Implications, Peter L. Benson, Peter C. Scales, Stephen F. Hamilton, and Arturo Sesma Jr.

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Toward Quality and Equality: Fulfilling Our Promises to America’s Children, by Peter C. Scales and Peter L. Benson

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Signs of Progress in Putting Children First, by Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Peter L. Benson, and Arturo Sesma Jr.

Unique Strengths, Shared Strengths: Developmental Assets among Youth of Color, Arturo Sesma Jr. and Eugene C. Roehlkepartain

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Boosting Student Achievement: New Research on the Power of Developmental Assets, Peter C. Scales and Eugene C. Roehlkepartain

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Creating Social Change: The Growth of a Statewide Movement, an independent evaluation by OMNI Institute


The Troubled Journey: A Portrait of 6th- to 12th-Grade Youth, Peter L. Benson



Building Healthy Communities for Positive Youth Development, Michael Nakkula, Karen C. Foster, Marc Mannes, and Shenita Bolstrom


Promoting Positive Development in Early Childhood: Building Blocks for a Successful Start, Karen VanderVen.


All Kids Are Our Kids: What Communities Must Do to Raise Caring and Responsible Children and Adolescents, Peter L. Benson


Coming into Their Own: How Developmental Assets Promote Positive Growth in Middle Childhood, Peter C. Scales, Arturo Sesma Jr, and Brent Bolstrom

Developmental Assets: A Synthesis of the Scientific Research on Adolescent Development (2nd ed.), Peter C. Scales and Nancy Leffert


Developmental Assets and Asset-Building Communities: Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice, Richard M. Lerner and Peter L. Benson (Editors).

Peer-Reviewed Articles and Chapters

NOTE: Many of the periodicals listed here may be downloaded or purchased through links provided. Journal articles and book chapters are available through their publishers. Most can be accessed through databases or through the publisher’s websites (often with a fee).


Schwartz, K. D., Theron, L. C., & Scales, P. C. (2017). Seeking and finding positive youth development among Zulu youth in South African townships. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12869

Drescher, C. F., Johnson, L. R., Kurz, A. S., Scales, P. C., & Kiliho, R. P. (2017). A developmental assets approach in East Africa: Can Swahili measures capture adolescent strengths and supports?, Child & Youth Care Forum, 1-21.


Pashak, T. J., Handal, P. J., & Scales, P. C. (2016). Protective factors for the college years: Establishing the appropriateness of the Developmental Assets model for emerging adults. Current Psychology, 1-13. doi: 10.1007/s12144-016-9488-1

Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., Oesterle, S., Hill, K. G., Hawkins, J. D., & Pashak, T. J. (2016). The dimensions of successful young adult development: A conceptual and measurement framework. Applied Developmental Science, 20(3), 150-174. doi: 10.1080/10888691.2015.1082429

Scales, P. C., Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Shramko, M. (2016). Aligning youth development theory, measurement, and practice across cultures and contexts: Lessons from use of the Developmental Assets Profile. Child Indicators Research, 1-34. doi: 10.1080/10888691.2015.1082429

Scales, P. C., Shramko, M., & Ashburn, K. (2016). Developmental assets and sexual and reproductive health among 10-to 14-year-olds in Northern Uganda. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 7(1), 45-64. doi: 10.18357/ijcyfs.71201615416


Scales, P.C., Roehlkepartain, E.C., Wallace, T., Inselman, A., Stephenson, P., & Rodriguez, M. (2015). Brief report: Assessing youth well-being in global emergency settings: Early results from the Emergency Developmental Assets Profile. Journal of Adolescence, 45, 98-102. doi: 0.1016/j.adolescence.2015.09.002


Schwartz, S. O., Chan, C. S., Rhodes, J. E., & Scales, P. C. (2014). Community developmental assets and positive youth development: The role of natural mentors. Research in Human Development, 10(2), 141-162. doi: 10.1080/15427609.2013.786553

Scales, P. C. (2014). Developmental assets and the promotion of well-being in middle childhood. In A. Ben-Arieh, F. Casas, I. Frones, & J. E. Korbin, (Eds.), Handbook of child well-being. Theories, methods and policies in global perspective (pp. 1649-1678). Dorcrecht, Netherlands: Springer.


Acosta, J., Chinman,M., Ebener, P., Malone, P.S., Paddock, S., Phillips, A., Scales, P.C., & Slaughter, M.E. (2013). Intervening with practitioners to improve the quality of prevention: Findings from a two-year randomized trial of Assets-Getting To Outcomes. Implementation Science, 8, 87-105. doi: 10.1007/s10935-013-0302-7

Chinman, M., Acosta, J., Ebener, P., Burkhart, Q., Clifford, M., Corsello, M., Duffy, T., Hunter, S., Jones, M., Lahti, M., Malone, P.S., Paddock, S., Phillips, A., Savell, S., Scales, P., & Tellett-Royce, N. (2013). Intervening with practitioners to improve the quality of prevention: One year findings from a randomized controlled trial of the Assets-Getting To Outcomes intervention. Journal of Primary Prevention, 34, 173–191. doi: 10.1007/s10935-013-0302-7

Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., Dershem, L., Fraher, K., Makkonen, R., Nazneen, S., Syvertsen, A. K., & Titus, S. (2013). Building developmental assets to empower adolescent girls in rural Bangladesh: Evaluation of Project “Kishoree Kontha.” Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23(1), 171–184. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2012.00805.x


Benson, P. L., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2011). When ‘good enough’ isn’t really good enough: Aiming for the ‘best’ for all young people. In T. P. Jackson (Ed.). The best love of the child: Being loved and being taught to love as the first human right (pp. 19 – 46). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Benson, P. L., & Scales, P. C. (2011). Developmental assets. In R. J. R. Levesque (Ed.), Encyclopedia of adolescence (pp. 667–683). New York: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-1695-2

Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., & Syvertsen, A. K. (2011). The contribution of the developmental assets framework to positive youth development theory and practice. In R. M. Lerner, J. V. Lerner, & J. B. Benson (Eds.). Advances in child development and behavior, vol. 41 (pp. 197-230). Burlington, VT: Academic Press.

Scales, P. C. (2011). Youth developmental assets in global perspective: Results from international adaptations of the Developmental Assets Profile. Child Indicators Research, 4, 619–645. doi:10.1007/s12187-011-9112-8


Mannes, M., Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., Sesma, A., & Rauhouse, J. (2010). Positive youth development: Theory, research, and application to sexual violence prevention. In K. L. Kaufman (Ed.), The prevention of sexual violence: A practitioner’s sourcebook (pp. 85-106). Holyoke, MA: NEARI Press.


Benson, P. L., & Scales, P. C. (2009). Positive youth development and the prevention of youth aggression and violence. European Journal of Developmental Science, 3, 218–234. doi: 10.3233/DEV-2009-3302

Wilson, D. S., O’Brien, D. T., & Sesma, A. (2009). Human prosociality from an evolutionary perspective: Variation and correlations at a city-wide scale. Evolution and Human Behavior 30, 190–200. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2008.12.002


Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., Moore, K. A., Lippman, L., Brown, B., & Zaff, J. F. (2008). Promoting equal developmental opportunity and outcomes among America’s children and youth: Results from the National Promises Study. Journal of Primary Prevention, 29(2), 121–144. doi: 10.1007/s10935-008-0129-9


Benson, P. L. (2007). Developmental Assets: An overview of theory, research, and practice. In R. K. Silbereisen & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Approaches to positive youth development (p. 33-58). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., Hamilton, S. F., & Sesma, A. Jr. (2006). Positive youth development: Theory, research, and application. In W. W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology (6th ed.), volume 1, Theoretical models of human development (894–941). New York, NY: Wiley.

Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Sesma, A., & van Dulmen, M. (2006). The role of developmental assets in predicting academic achievement: A longitudinal study. Journal of Adolescence 29, 691–708. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2005.09.001

Sesma, A., Jr., Mannes, M., & Scales, P. C. (2006). Positive adaptation, resilience, and the Developmental Asset framework. In S. Goldstein & R. B. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (pp. 281–296). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.


Benson, P. L., & Scales, P. C. (2005). Developmental assets. In C. B. Fisher & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Encyclopedia of applied developmental science (pp. 340-343). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Benson, P. L., Mannes, M., Pittman, K., & Ferber, T. (2004). Youth development, developmental assets, and public policy. In R.M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (2nd ed., pp.781-814). New York, NY: Wiley.


Benson, P. L. (2003). Developmental assets and asset-building community: Conceptual and empirical foundations. In R. M. Lerner & P. L. Benson (Eds.), Developmental assets and asset-building communities: Implications for research, policy, and practice (pp. 19–43). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Benson, P.L., Scales, P.C., & Mannes, M. (2003). Developmental strengths and their sources: Implications for the study and practice of community-building.”  In Richard M. Lerner, Francine Jacobs, & Donald Wertlieb, Eds. (2003). Promoting Positive Child, Adolescent, and Family Development:  A Handbook of Program and Policy Innovations, Volume 1, Promoting Developmental Assets—Community-Based Approaches (pp. 369-406).  Newbury Park, CA:  Sage Publications.


Benson, P. L. (2001). Developmental assets. In J. V. Lerner & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Adolescence in America: An encyclopedia (pp. 208-217). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

French, S. A., Leffert, N., Story, M., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Hannan, P., & Benson, P.L. (2001). Adolescent binge/purge and weight loss behaviors: Associations with developmental assets. Journal of Adolescent Health, 28, 211-221. doi: 10.1016/S1054-139X(00)00166-X


Scales, P. C. (2000). Building students’ developmental assets to promote health and school success. The Clearinghouse: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas, 74(2), 84–88.

Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., Leffert, N., & Blyth, D. A. (2000). Contribution of developmental assets to the prediction of thriving among adolescents. Applied Developmental Science 4(1), 27–46. doi: 10.1207/S1532480XADS0401_3


Scales, P. C. (1999). Reducing risks and building developmental assets: Essential actions for promoting adolescent health. Journal of School Health, 69(3), 113–119. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.1999.tb07219.x


Benson, P. L., Leffert, N., Scales, P. C., & Blyth, D. A. (1998). Beyond the ‘village’ rhetoric: Creating healthy communities for children and adolescents. Applied Developmental Science 2(3), 138–159. doi: 10.1080/10888691.2012.642771

Leffert, N., Benson, P. L, Scales, P. C., Sharma, A., Drake, D., & Blyth, D. A. (1998). Developmental assets: Measurement and prediction of risk behaviors among adolescents. Applied Developmental Science, 2(4), 209–230. doi: 10.1207/s1532480xads0204_4