Montana Positive Youth Development Lab Logo


Last updated: 3/11/2021

The Montana Positive Youth Development (PYD) Lab conducts research focused on understanding how to best support the health, well-being, education, and engagement of children and adolescents. Our central research questions focus on studying predictors of youth civic engagement (e.g., volunteering, political behaviors, conservation behaviors), examining how emotions motivate civic and political beliefs and action, and testing the implications of civic engagement for teens’ physical and psychological health and education.

Our research team uses a variety of different research approaches (daily diary and ecological momentary assessments, longitudinal studies, observational studies) and relies heavily on community partnerships. Our cutting-edge research designs are matched with advanced statistical modeling to provide novel and credible knowledge about positive youth development.

The Montana PYD Lab values scientific transparency, accessibility, and the building of credible knowledge. We value our community and institutions of civic society. We recognize and appreciate the strengths and abilities of all youth, regardless of background and past experiences, and we celebrate the diversity of individuals, families, communities, and cultures.

Select Publications

  • Oosterhoff, B., Hill, R.M., & Slonaker, N. J. (2020). Longitudinal associations between civic engagement and interpersonal needs among college students during the 2018 midterm elections. Applied Developmental Science, 1-13. [PDF]
  • Oosterhoff, B., & Palmer, C. A. (2020). Attitudes and psychological factors associated with news monitoring, social distancing, disinfecting, and hoarding behaviors among US adolescents during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. JAMA Pediatrics, 174, 1184-1190. [PDF]
  • Oosterhoff, B., Metzger, A., & Alvis, L. (2020). Similarities and differences in adolescents’ organized and civic activity networks across rural and non-rural communities. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49, 1464-1480. [PDF]
  • Oosterhoff, B., & Wray‐Lake, L. (2020). Risky politics? Associations between adolescent risk preference and political engagement. Child Development, 91, e743-e761. [PDF]
  • Oosterhoff, B., Kaplow, J. B., Layne, C. M., & Pynoos, R. (2018). Civilization and its discontented: Links between youth victimization, beliefs about government, and political participation across seven American presidencies. American Psychologist, 73, 230-242. [PDF]

 Want more? See a complete list here

Lab Resources

The best place the access lab resources is through our Open Science Framework (OSF) lab page. We are in the processing of curating all of our past research, which will appear on this page. New projects, including all data, material, and statistical code needed to computationally reproduce or directly replicate our research will appear on this page prior to publication. 

In addition to the lab resources included on the OSF page, I encourage all of my graduate students to review our Lab Expectations and required lab reading list .

Ongoing Research Projects

The Young Adult Community Experiences (YACE) Study

The Montana PYD Lab is planning a study that will investigate community experiences, emotional responding, and civic intentions among MSU college students. Students will complete short surveys every night for one week at the beginning of the semester, followed by two additional surveys at the middle and end of the semester. More information regarding this study will be made available soon.

Youths’ Civic Network Study

The Montana PYD Study conducting a study to better understand the role of peers in promoting youth civic engagement. This study will involve partnering with a local high school to document youths’ “civic networks” – friendship networks characterized by varying degrees of civic engagement –and understanding the implications of these networks for future civic engaging. Stay tuned for more information!

Want more information? Check out our research Open Science Framework Page

Advances in Psychological Methods and Statistics (APMS) Division

The MPYD Advances in Psychological Methods and Statistics division is dedicated to improving psychological science through applied statistics and developing new methodologies. We offer trainings and consulting in the following areas: 

  • Best practices in Open Science
    • e.g., reproducible workflow / pre-registration / registered reports / TOP guidelines
  • Advanced Survey Design
    • e.g., planned missingnes / sampling
  • Mixed-Methods Designs
    • e.g., Qualitative Coding 
  • Measurement Development 
    • e.g., cognitive interviewing /  scale validation / short-scale creation
  • Advanced Statistical Modeling 
    • e.g., SEM/HLM/Network Analyses
  • Longitudinal Methods and Analyses 
    • e.g., Modeling of time / addressing attrition
  • Introductory / Advanced Statistics Program Languages
    • e.g., R / Mplus / SAS / SPSS 

The Montana PYD Lab has methodological and analytic support on studies funded by SAMSHA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Health (NIH), the New York Life Foundation, the Brown Foundation, the Children’s Health Fund, UNICEF, the Spencer Foundation, and the John Templeton Foundation.

Those interested in working with the APMS division of the Montana PYD lab should contact Dr. Benjamin Oosterhoff ([email protected]). 

Research Assistants 

Undergraduate students interested in joining the Montana PYD core or APMS division should email Dr. Benjamin Oosterhoff by clicking the link below to inquire about availability. Positions are limited, so I encourage you to reach out in advance. High school students are interested in our research can also join the lab as a volunteer. Lab meetings will be held virtually until further notice. 

Note that undergraduate research assistants will be asked to complete this application form to join the MPYD Lab.