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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Oregon State: Research Indicates When it Comes to Positive Youth Development, It Is Possible to Care Too Much

New research indicates there may be a point where youth can “care too much” and caring becomes detrimental to their well-being.

“Caring on the whole is good, but for some youth it is possible to care too much, which can lead to over-investment in others’ lives and problems,” says Dr. John Geldhof, an assistant professor in Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences and the study’s lead author. “At that point, caring can lead to anxiety or other negative emotions.”

The findings were published recently in the Journal of Adolescence. Co-authors are Dr. Torill Larsen, Dr. Helga Urke and Dr. Ingrid Holsen of the University of Bergen in Norway as well as Ms. Hillary Lewis and Ms. Corine Tyler of OSU.

Dr. Geldhof’s research interests include the development of self-regulation across the lifespan and the link between self-regulation and positive developmental outcomes, particularly for positive youth development.

Under the “Five Cs Model” of positive youth development, youth who develop competence, confidence, character, caring and connection are viewed as more likely to thrive into adulthood.

“Generally if a person has all five Cs, the expected outcome is that they’ll be in a position to make a positive contribution in society,” Dr. Geldhof says. “Youth who develop all five Cs should experience lower rates of depression and anxiety and lower rates of substance abuse, and generally should have greater mental well-being.”

Using data from a Norwegian study of well-being among youth, the researchers analyzed the relationship between caring and outcome measures such as anxiety, depressive symptoms and mental well-being.

Read additional findings and full article.