Contextual Competence: Multiple Manifestations Among Urban Adolescents
The authors develop and validate multidimensional and contextual profiles of competence among low-income, urban, middle adolescents (N = 560). The assessment of contextual competence was based on youth self-reports of involvement, performance, and relationship quality in the peer, school, athletic, employment, religious, and cultural contexts. A principal components analysis of these engagement indices revealed the six expected components with the addition of a component labeled self-in-context. To identify holistic, multidimensional profiles of contextual competence, scores along the seven domains were cluster analyzed. Nine clusters emerged, each representing a distinct constellation of youth experience. Profiles were associated with demographic variables and youth adjustment. Profiles reflecting high engagement in two or more contexts predicted higher self-esteem and lower depression. In contrast, profiles marked by high engagement in the contexts of athletics or employment predicted more serious delinquency. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for future research and intervention.