Youth Cognitive Empowerment: Development and Evaluation of an Instrument

Paul W. Speer, N. Andrew Peterson, Brian D. Christens, Robert J. Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Psychological empowerment (PE) is a multicomponent construct that involves the mechanisms through which people and groups gain control over their lives and environments. Psychological empowerment has previously been operationalized using measures of sociopolitical control among young people, with findings indicating links between PE and other positive developmental outcomes. Sociopolitical control, however, is only an indicator for the emotional component of PE. Research has largely neglected the cognitive component of PE, particularly in studies of younger people. In fact, few studies to date have presented and empirically tested measurement instruments for the cognitive component of PE among youth. In this study, we adapted a measure, which previously had been validated and used among adults, for use among young people and tested it in a sample of high school students (53% female, 75% Hispanic) in an urban school in the northeastern U.S. Confirmatory factor analyses were used to assess the hypothesized three-factor structure of cognitive empowerment, and the measure was examined for association with the construct of social justice orientation. Results indicate an adequate fit for the second-order factor, and an expected relationship with the related construct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-540
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Civic engagement
  • Cognitive empowerment
  • Sociopolitical control
  • Sociopolitical development
  • Youth civic development


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