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Abstract

What distinguishes adolescents who are active in community and political life from those who are not? In an attempt to answer this question, students in their last years of secondary school completed a measure of community and political activities, along with measures of parent and peer interactions, identity development, and adjustment. Cluster analysis of activities reported in the questionnaire identified 4 distinct groupings of adolescents: Activists (who had high levels of involvement in a wide range of political and community activities); Helpers (who were involved in helping individuals from their communities but not in political activities); Responders (who responded to but did not initiate helping or political activities); and Uninvolved adolescents. Comparisons revealed several differences among the groups in terms of parent and peer interactions, identity development, and adjustment, with the Activists and Helpers showing more frequent discussions with parents and peers, more advanced identity development, and better adjustment than the Responders and Uninvolved adolescents. Results are discussed with regard to the role that family and peers may play in fostering adolescents' community and political involvements and the relationship between involvement and the development of adolescent identity. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comm Psychol 35: 741–759, 2007.