Kaye V. Cook (Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) is Professor of Psychology and Department Chair at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. She has long-term research interests in developmental transitions, gender issues, qualitative research, and moral and faith development. As a licensed clinician, she specializes in the developmental issues of women and, more recently, of immigrants seeking asylum or with American-born children.
I propose to reconceptualize virtue development and spiritual formation among highly religious emerging adults from a positive psychology perspective. Virtues as understood from a positive psychology perspective are embedded in culture, embodied, central to resilience, health, and human flourishing, and linked to meaningful life purpose, even for those whose life purpose is in the process of being developed. Emerging adulthood deserves special focus because it begins in the instability of adolescence and ends with commitments in love and work, accompanied by significant life changes in all areas: parental and peer relationships, church commitments and religious belief, and identity development. These areas of life, and the relationships among them, are universally important but show cultural distinctives. From my earlier research (and a data re-analysis that explores individual differences), my experiences in work with youth, and the larger literature emerge pragmatic recommendations for intervention and change.