Transdisciplinary Participatory Action Research: How Philosophers, Psychologists, and Practitioners Can Work Well Together To Promote Adolescent Character Development Within Context

Journal of Positive Psychology 18 (2023)
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Abstract

Character strengths research has the potential to imply that youth have character deficits or moral failings that cause their problematic behavior. This ignores the impact of context, especially for youth who are members of historically marginalized groups in under resourced communities. On the other hand, framing youth who are members of underrepresented groups solely as products of oppression undermines their agency and the power of collective action. It may be possible to promote character development in a contextually relevant, culturally grounded way through a transdisciplinary, participatory action approach. We engaged in this work in three phases: goal specification; logic model identification; and intervention development and testing. Lessons learned included the need for intensive trust-building and identifying the limitations in scope and capacity. Overall, a transdisciplinary, participatory action approach is a promising strategy to overcome the existing bias in virtue development research and to leverage positive psychology to address health disparities.

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