Sociology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



The Prevention Researcher, Volume 19(2), April 2012, pp 13-16


Copyright 2012


Extracurricular activities figure prominently in the lives of adolescents, as most youth report participating at some level in a school-based extracurricular activity (Feldman & Matjasko, 2005). Scholars, practitioners, educators, and policy makers alike promote the potential benefits of extracurricular involvement for personal and prosocial development among adolescents. Researchers from a variety of fields have taken an interest in how participation influences health, well-being, and social development. This research has demonstrated a connection between structured activity involvement and several indicators of positive youth development (Busseri & Rose-Krasnor, 2009). Of particular interest in this article is the relationship between activity participation and self-esteem. Activities can help young people achieve developmental tasks, particularly personal identity development. The basic theoretical notion is that participation will support or bolster a positive self-concept and a sense of self-worth. In general, research demonstrates extracurricular participation is linked to self-esteem (Mahoney, Harris, & Eccles, 2006). This article focuses on this connection on a theoretical basis, and then it turns to a summary of the empirical evidence. Finally, it offers practical suggestions regarding adolescent extracurricular involvement and self-esteem.