We describe thriving as an under-utilized construct that can add value to theory research and application in adolescent development. We draw on developmental systems theories to suggest that thriving represents the dynamic and bi-directional interplay of a young person intrinsically animated and energized by discovering his/her specialness and the developmental contexts (people places) that know affirm celebrate encourage and guide its expression. We note that thriving shares some conceptual space with positive psychology and constructs such as competence developmental assets and flourishing but also note how thriving differs from each of these. On both conceptual and empirical grounds we articulate a case for the unique contribution of thriving as a valid and useful addition to our understanding of human development. We end the paper by describing the exploratory factor analysis and descriptive results of a new survey to measure adolescent thriving that has grown out of the conceptual framework presented here.
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