Publication Date



Early and middle adolescence have been identified as critical periods for developing civic identity (Erikson, 1968; Sherrod, 2006; Youniss & Yates, 1997); thus, understanding adolescent political behaviors may help us to better understand pathways to political engagement in adulthood (Galston, 2001). Perhaps because adolescents are limited by age from the right to vote, little attention has been paid to consistent operationalization and measurement of adolescent political activity. This research seeks to strengthen the development of methodologically sound measures of adolescent political behavior by reviewing and critiquing commonly-used measures in the field. Based on a review of items used in 22 national surveys and intervention studies, this paper identifies substantial need for increased consistency and precision in measuring adolescent political behavior. Recommendations for strengthening the measurement of adolescent political behavior are discussed.

Document Type

Working Paper


Civic Engagement and Service


Community and National Service

Original Citation

Pritzker, S. (2008). Adolescent political behavior: Towards increased validity and reliability of measures (CSD Working Paper No. 08-32). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


Civic Engagement and Service


measurement, youth