Spiritual Exemplars: The Emerging Adult Years

 

Project Dates

June 2018—June 2021

 

Research Team

Principal Investigator: Pamela King

Student Researchers: Frederic Defoy, Abigayle Craigg, and Casey Clardy

 

Funded By

This study was made possible through a seed grant by the Travis Research Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary.

 

Project Summary

Exemplarity research allows for the exploration of less understood psychological phenomena (Bronk, King & Matsuba, 2013), which in the case of this study is understanding the nature and structure of spirituality from psychological perspectives. The current project is a follow up study to a qualitative study on adolescent spiritual exemplars (King, Abo-Zena & Weber, 2017; King, Clardy & Ramos, 2014), which has revealed the importance of transcendence, fidelity, and contribution as part of central to the spirituality of diverse youth nominated for living with profound spirituality in their culture. Twelve years later, interviews of five of the original participants explore the nature and function of spiritual development in their lives as emerging adults.

 

Initial Study

Using an exemlar methodology, this initial study titled Spiritual Exemplars: Global Perspectives on Spiritual Development Among Diverse Adolescents explored core principles of spiritual development evident in diverse highly spiritual youth. Data included in-depth interviews with 32 adolescent spiritual exemplars from Peru, Kenya, India, Jordan, Great Britain, and the United States. The research team examined related topics of awareness, fidelity, transcendence, purpose, contribution, spiritual coping, and influences on spiritual development. This study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation in collaboration with the Center for Spiritual Development at the Search Institute and ran from 2007—2009.

Dr. Eugene Roehlkepartain, Dr. Peter Benson, Dr. Peter Scales, Dr. Lisa Kimball, and Dr. Pamela Ebstyne King introduce an emerging framework for understanding core dimensions of spiritual development, and report on the preliminary and exploratory findings from the first 3 years of the Center’s research, including:

  • Results from surveys of more than 6,500 youth.
  • Insights from youth focus groups.
  • Snapshots from interviews of youth who were nominated as spiritual exemplars.

 

Related Subgrants

  • Measuring Adolescent Spiritual Development Project: Based on the initial study, this project proposed and tested a measure of adolescent spirituality based on transcendence, fidelity, and contribution. Data was collected in Tijuana, Mexico. This study was funded by the Tyndale House in collaboration with Fuller Youth Institute and World Vision, running from 2009—2013.
  • Social Influences on Adolescent Spiritual and Religious Development Study: Drawing on the findings from the initial study, this project sought to investigate the social influences on the religious and spiritual development of highly spiritual youth around the world. This study ran from 2013—2018.

 

Related Publications

  • Abo-Zena, M. & King, P.E. (in press). Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary: Case studies of spiritual exemplars. Journal of Humanistic Psychology.
  • King, P.E. & Merola, C. M. (2017). Crucibles of transformation: Religious service and emerging adults. In L. M. Padilla-Walker & L. J. Nelson (Eds.) Flourishing in Emerging Adulthood: positive Development during the Third Decade of Life (pp. 330-362).New York: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190260637.003.0029
  • King, P. E., Abo-Zena, M., & Weber, J. (2017). Varieties of social experience: The religious cultural context of diverse spiritual exemplars. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 35 (1), 127-141. doi:10.1111/bjdp.12181
  • King, P. E., Kim, S., Furrow, J. F., & Clardy, C. E. (2017). Preliminary exploration of the Measurement of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality (MDAS) among Mexican youth. Applied Developmental Science, 21(4), 235-250. doi:10.1080/10888691.2016.1203789
  • King, P. E. & Boyatzis C. (2015). Religious and spiritual development. In M. E. Lamb & C. G. Coll (Eds.), Social and Emotional Issues (Vol. 3) of the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (7th ed.). Editor-in-chief: R. M. Lerner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, p. 975-1021. doi:10.1002/9781118963418.childpsy323
  • Carr, D. R. & King, P. E., Meier, A. M. (2014). Purpose and spirituality: Exploring the role of fidelity in diverse adolescents. Journal of Youth Development: Bridging Research to Practice. 5-15. doi:10.5195/jyd.2014.56
  • King, P. E., Clardy, C. E., & Ramos, J. S. (2014). Adolescent spiritual exemplars: Exploring spirituality in the lives of diverse youth. Journal of Adolescent Research, 29(2), 186-212, doi:10.1177/0743558413502534
  • Whitney, W., & King, P. E. (2014). Religious congregations and communities. In C. N. Barry & M. M. Abo-Zena (Eds.), Emerging adults’ religiousness and spirituality: Meaning-making in an age of transition. New York: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199959181.003.0008
  • King, P. E., Mueller, R. O., & Furrow, J. F. (2013). Cultural and contextual considerations in exemplar research. In M. K. Matsuba, P. E. King, & K. C. Bronk, K. C. (Eds.), Exemplar methods and research: Quantitative and qualitative strategies for investigation [Special issue]. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 142, 41-58. doi:10.1002/cad.20048
  • Bronk, K. C., King, P. E., & Matsuba, M. K. (2013). Introduction to exemplarity research. In M. K. Matsuba, P. E. King, & K. C. Bronk (Eds.), Exemplar methods and research: Quantitative and qualitative strategies for investigation [Special issue]. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 142, 1-12. doi:10.1002/cad.20045
  • King, P. E., Ramos, J. S., & Clardy, C. E. (2013). Searching for the sacred: Religion, spirituality, and adolescent development. In K. I. Pargament, J. J. Exline, & J. W. Jones (Eds.), APA handbook of psychology, religion, and spirituality (Vol 1): Context, theory, and research (pp. 513-528). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/14045-028
  • Quagliana, H. L., King, P. E., Quagliana, D. P., & Wagener, L. M. (2013). Spiritually oriented interventions in developmental context. In D. F. Walker & W. L. Hathaway (Eds.), Spiritual interventions in child and adolescent psychotherapy (pp. 89-110). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13947-005
  • King, P.E., Carr, A. & Boitor, C. (2011). Religion, spirituality, positive youth development, and thriving. In R. M. Lerner, J. V. Lerner, and J. B. Benson (Eds.), Advances in Child Development and Behavior: Vol. 41. Positive youth development: Research and applications for promoting thriving in adolescence. Amsterdam: Elsevier Press. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-386492-5.00007-5
  • Clardy, C. E., & King, P. E. (2010). Adolescent religious involvement. In B. Brown & M. Prinstein (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Adolescence (2nd vol.). Amsterdam: Elsevier Press.
  • King, P. E., Ramos, J. S., & Clardy, C. E. (2010). Religion & spirituality in diverse adolescents. In D. P. Swanson, M. C. Edwards, & M. B. Spencer (Eds.), Adolescence: Development During a Global Era (1st ed., pp. 415-446). Amsterdam: Elsevier Press.

 

Selected Presentations

  • King, P. E. (2013). High fidelity: Morality and spiritual exemplars. Paper presented in a symposium at the International Positive Psychology Association, Los Angeles, CA.
  • Clardy, C. E., & King, P. E. (2011). Understanding spiritual coping in adolescence: Examining the spiritual development of diverse adolescent spiritual exemplars. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Montreal, Canada.
  • King, P. E., Carr, D., & Clardy, C. E. (2011). International perspectives on spiritual development: The roles of transcendence, fidelity and action. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Montreal, Canada.
  • King, P. E. (2011). Measuring adolescent spirituality: A factor analysis of Mexican youth. Paper presentation at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Montreal, Canada.
  • Boiter, C., Carr, D., & King, P. E. (2010). Spirituality and action: An international exploratory study of meaning of service for spiritual exemplars. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Clardy, C. E., Ramos, J. S., & King, P. E. (2010). Spiritual coping in diverse adolescent exemplars around the world. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia, PA.
  • King, P. E., Clardy, C. E., & Ramos, J. S. (2010). Spiritual exemplars from around the world: An exploratory study of spiritual development in adolescents. Paper presented at a paper symposium at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia, PA.
  • King, P. E., & Wagener, L. M. (2010). Using exemplar methodologies to explore positive youth development:
  • Opportunities and challenges. Chairs of Symposium presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Ramos, J. S., Clardy, C. E. & King, P. E. (2010). Purpose among diverse spiritual exemplars. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia, PA.
  • King, P. E. (2009). Youth spiritual exemplars: The study of extraordinary spirituality in everyday lives. Keynote address at the Spiritual Development Presession at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Denver, CO.
  • Benson, P. L., & King, P. E. (2008). Contexts of spiritual development among diverse adolescents. Chairs of Symposium presented at the American Psychological Association, Boston, MA.
  • King, P. E., Ramos, J., & Clardy, C. (2008). Adolescent spiritual exemplars: An exploratory study of spiritual thriving. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Wurtzburg, Germany.