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Accordingly, using these operationalizations, Dowling et al. (2003) reviewed the set of 319 items in the survey to which the YAP adolescents responded and identified 91 items that pertained to religiosity, spirituality, and positive youth development or thriving (e.g., social competence, self-esteem, and respect for diversity). Using several statistical procedures, three spirituality factors, four religiosity factors, and nine thriving factors were identified as existing among these items.
In turn, Dowling et al. (2004) explored the role of spirituality in thriving by using the 1,000 adolescents from the YAP data set studied by Dowling et al. (2003). A conceptual model that included paths from spirituality to religiosity, from religiosity to thriving, and from spirituality to thriving was a better fit to the data set than models that either lacked the direct effect of spirituality on thriving or the mediating effect of spirituality on thriving through religiosity. In short, more so than a path from spirituality to thriving that involved the mediation of religiosity, among the YAP youth the strongest influence on their thriving was a path directly from spirituality.
CONCLUSIONS AND DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
Contemporary scholars of adolescent development are pointing to the implications of spirituality on positive youth development (see, for example, Lerner, 2004 and Youniss and Yates, 1999) and are conceptually differentiating the role of spirituality from the role of religiosity in such development. However, there has been no attempt to date to longitudinally establish the differential links in adolescence among spiritual development, religious development, and thriving, particularly in a data set having sufficient statistical power and measurement quality to assess the neuropsychological, cognitive, affective, moral, and contextual bases of this developmental process. Clearly, this is a key direction that should be taken in future research. In addition, future research should be attentive to cultural, racial, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic diversity. For instance, in different societies there is variation in what a person must do to manifest structural values of productive and healthy personhood. That is, how a person must function to manifest structurally valued regulation will vary from social or cultural setting to setting and across historical (and ecological) conditions (Elder, Modell, & Parke, 1993; Erikson, 1959). For example, in some societies regulations that support inter-individually invariant belief in and/or obedience to religious dictums may be of superordinate value. In turn, in the United States, regulations that support individual freedom, equity, and democracy are highly valued, and attributes such as the Five Cs of positive youth development are often regarded as healthy outcomes of functionally appropriate developmental regulations. In turn, attributes antithetical to these five attributes (for example, attributes such as negative self-regard, abusive or manipulative social relationships, and the absence of integrity) are instances of unfavorable individual outcomes that (we presume) derive from inadequate developmental regulations.
In all cases, however, each society will show variation within a given historical moment in what behaviors are judged as valuable in (consistent with) supporting the universal structural value of maintaining or perpetuating person-context regulations subserving mutually beneficial individual and institutional relations (Elder, Modell, & Parke, 1993). As a consequence, the markers or indices of what an individual must manifest as he or she develops from infancy to adult personhood may vary across place and time (Elder et al., 1993). Accordingly, there may be variation across different societies and points in time within the same society in definitions of personcontext relations that comprise positive youth development, and thus in the specific behaviors that move a young person along a life path wherein he or she will possess the functional values of society and attain structurally valued personhood. Simply, there may be both historical and cultural variation in the specific, functionally valued components of the thriving process.
In sum, developmentally emergent and contextually mediated successful regulations of positive personcontext relations ensure that individuals will have the nurturance and support needed for healthy development. Simultaneously, such regulation provides society with people having the mental and behavioral capacities- the inner and outer lives-requisite to maintain, perpetuate, and enhance their social world. To sustain the individual and societal benefits of these person-context relations, socialization must promote (1) a moral orientation among youth that good is created through contributions to positive personcontext relations and, as a derivative of this orientation, (2) a commitment to build the institutions of civil society by constructing the ecological "space" for individual citizens to promote in their communities the culturally specific institutions of civil society. Thus, when young people understand themselves as morally committed to and behaviorally engaged in building civil society, and when they as a consequence possess a transcendent sense of the importance in life of a commitment to an enduring nature or being beyond the limits of their own existence, they are able to be agents both in their own, healthy development and in the positive enhancement of other people and of society.