The effects of extracurricular activity involvement and future time perspective on internalizing and externalizing problems of adolescents




Murphy, Jonna Lyn

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The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of extracurricular activity involvement and future time perspective (FTP) on adolescent internalizing (anxious, depressive symptoms) and externalizing (violent, aggressive behavior) problems. The sample (N=666) was drawn from the Prince George's County Study of Adolescent Development in Multiple Contexts, 1991-1998 dataset. Data were examined cross-sectionally when participants were in the 8th grade, and longitudinally when students were finishing their 11th grade year. Results indicated that cross-sectionally, higher levels of FTP and extracurricular activity involvement were consistently associated with lower levels of all parent-reported dependent variables over and above gender, ethnicity, and age, while only FTP was associated with lower levels of self-reported dependent variables. In longitudinal analyses, only higher levels of FTP were uniquely associated with subsequent parent-reported externalizing problems 3 years later. Neither FTP nor extracurricular activity involvement made a unique contribution to subsequent parent- or self-reported internalizing problems. Support was found for an interaction between FTP and extracurricular activity involvement for subsequent self-reported depressive symptoms. This interaction indicated that for students low in FTP, high levels of extracurricular activity involvement acted as a vulnerability factor increasing risk for subsequent depressive symptoms. An additional cross-sectional interaction between FTP and gender on self-reported depressive symptoms indicated that the protective effects of FTP were stronger for girls than for boys. Contrary to expectations based on the Value-Expectancy model, FTP did not mediate the relationships between extracurricular activity involvement and internalizing or externalizing problems. Findings indicated that caution should be used when recommending students engage in extracurricular activities, as more harm may result if there is not a good fit between the two.


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