Building knowledge about the development of purpose for specific individuals at specific times in specific contexts, from childhood to adulthood, by using change-sensitive designs and methods is an important contribution to the study of human development. Traditional, variable-centered approaches to understanding character development over time do not capture variability and change in individual trajectories. Person-specific analysis requires measures of character virtues that have been validated for frequent measurement. These currently do not exist for youth. We will develop and pilot among urban high school students a self-report survey instrument that allows for day-to-day measurement of seeking purpose, sense of purpose, gratitude, future-mindedness, generosity, and diligence. We will address three questions: (1) Are the administration procedures feasible? (2) What are the psychometric properties of the scales? (3) What is the day-to-day, person-specific variation in character virtues linked to sense of purpose, and what are the patterns of covariation among these virtues? We propose a small-scale study to establish and test strategies for recruitment and engagement in data collection, to develop an instrument that shows reasonably strong psychometric properties, and to examine the across-day and person-specific variation in these character virtues. This study is an important first step toward developing a survey instrument that can help us understand individual developmental pathways of character virtues linked to sense of purpose.
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