More than just a simple twist of fate: Serendipitous relations in adolescence.
Abstract: Unexpected, non-normative events are key influences on life-span
human development. Despite this importance, little is known about how an individual may
capitalize on these events by transforming them into opportunities for sustained positive
development. In this research, I introduce the concept of serendipitous relations -
mutually beneficial, adaptive developmental regulations ... read morebrought about by the time-extended
coaction of intentional self-regulatory actions and unexpected non-normative life events.
In turn, I hypothesize that use of specific serendipitous actions (for instance,
identifying an unexpected events as potential opportunities for positive development, or
disengaging from prior goals when new goals that derive from unexpected events show
promise) leads to such serendipitous relations, which may be especially important sources
of positive development during periods of life transition. Using data from one sample of
American high-school students and two samples of American students enrolled in
post-secondary educational institutions, results from a series of latent variable analyses
supported these hypotheses: higher levels of serendipitous actions predicted within-time
adaptive development, and interindividual variability in rank order of serendipitous
actions predicted interindividual variability in rank order of adaptive development (as
indexed by a measure of Positive Youth Development) from the final year of high school into
post-secondary educational enrollment. Interpreting these results as preliminary support
for the future study of serendipitous relations, I offer suggestions for future research to
more fully explicate potential underlying developmental processes and provide ideas for
applying this research to domestic and international interventions.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2013.
Submitted to the Dept. of Child Development.
Advisor: Richard Lerner.
Committee: Marina Bers, Jonathan Zaff, Todd Little, and Alexandra Freund.
Keyword: Developmental psychology.read less