Montana Positive Youth Development Lab Logo


Last updated: 1/10/2021

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

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 is planning 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

Research Assistants 

Undergraduate students interested in joining the Montana PYD should email [email protected] 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.