Defining features of the ADS profile at Stockholm University are: Participatory action research, working to lead the field in research that examines how children and adolescents interact with their immediate context over time, as well as to focus on the whole child – which demands increased attention to understanding the strengths of young people and resources within contexts such as home, school, and neighborhood.

The research program on ADS at the Department of Psychology are co-led by Associate Professors Laura Ferrer-Wreder and Lilianne Eninger.


Children in a swing


The ADS research program exemplifies Stockholm University’s profile area called Worlds & Conditions of Children and Youth particularly in regards to theory and research that ADS researchers use and generate that examines the many ways that children and adolescents can be active agents in their lives and drivers of developmental change.

A theoretical orientation and research actions within the ADS group that provide one illustration of what it means to take a more agentic and strengths-based view to the study of child and adolescent development is embodied by growing research field of Positive Youth Development (PYD). Although there are many conceptualizations of what PYD should consist of, a good description can be found at




Qs and As

ADS program researchers (either within the program or affiliated researchers) commented on different aspects of positive youth development (or PYD) as a phenomenon and as a field of inquiry. Here are some of their responses:

Q. What value do you see as a researcher in taking a positive perspective on child or adolescent development?

A. Especially from an intervention perspective, it is important to focus on the available resources, both in terms of strengths within the child/adolescent and in terms of resources surrounding the individual – the various contexts that influence development. An important issue is how we can build upon and strengthen these different aspects in order to influence development in a positive direction.
– Lilianne Eninger, Stockholm University

 A. …young people are suddenly seen as active participants in their own development. This makes it easier to include their voice and opinions not only in the research process but also in initiatives that concern their development. 
– Nora Wiium, University of Bergen (an ADS program affiliated researcher)

A. …it highlights the whole child (both the problems and possibilities) and it is how we discuss children in everyday life, so it is a realistic but complex perspective to take on, in terms of research.
– Laura Ferrer-Wreder, Stockholm University

Q. In your research (or scholarship) with positive youth development, what has surprised you about what you have found, for example from a particular study?

A. This is not from a particular study, but while reviewing the research literature on classroom climate and PYD for a chapter, it was surprising to me that little of the educational research literature has been touched by PYD, so there is tremendous space to explore what value PYD can add…
– Laura Ferrer-Wreder, Stockholm University

A. One of my surprises has been the limited amount of developmental resources that young people, in both Western and non-Western contexts report in relation to constructive use of time. This category of resources typically measures engagement in sports and clubs, creative activities, such as music and art, religious activities and spending quality time with friends and family. Across countries from the different continents that we have studied in a cross-nation project, not many young people are engaged in these essential PYD activities…
– Nora Wiium, University of Bergen (an ADS program affiliated researcher)

Q. In your opinion, what is the forward edge of research in the field of positive youth development?

A. Like many other scientific fields, research in positive youth development has mainly focused on samples from WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) countries. A forward edge of research in the PYD field would be to strengthen studies that involve non-WEIRD contexts where the majority of young people work and live. 
– Nora Wiium, University of Bergen (an ADS program affiliated researcher)

A. Efforts to measure context and connect that empirically to child development and health, for example this is being done in Ingela Clausén Gull’s doctoral dissertation, in her work to measure neighborhoods that children live in and go to school in and how that relates to their development. For a long time theoretically we have talked about person context interactions but it is exciting to see how this unfolds in reality and on a case by case and culture by culture basis.
– Laura Ferrer-Wreder, Stockholm University

Other Comments about PYD from Researchers in the Positive Youth Development Cross-National Project

Project PI: Nora Wiium, University of Bergen, an ADS program affiliated researcher.
SU project partners: Laura Ferrer-Wreder and Radosveta Dimitrova.
PYD Researchers

What ideas come to mind when you think of PYD as a research field?


Learn more about PYD and related research projects

Applied Developmental Science (ADS)
Program website, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University.

Classroom Climate
Project PI: Mara Westling Allodi – Stockholm University, Department of Special Education.
Department of Psychology Research Partner: Laura Ferrer-Wreder

The Positive Youth Development Cross-National Project
Project PI: Nora Wiium – University of Bergen (Norway)
Department of Psychology Research Partners: Radosveta Dimitrova and Laura Ferrer-Wreder
A Cross-National Project Product: Special Issue on PYD edited by Wiium and Dimitrova.

Sustainable Development Goals and PYD with an empirical example from Ghana.

UNICEF. (2013). Sustainable development starts with safe, healthy and well-educated children. (PDF)