Kendall Cotton Bronk

Kendall Cotton Bronk is an Associate Professor of psychology in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences. She is a developmental psychologist interested in positive youth development and the moral growth of young people. Most recently, she has investigated these topics through the lens of young people’s purposes in life. Her research has explored the relationship between purpose and healthy growth, the ways young people discover purpose, and the developmental trajectory of youth with strong commitments to various purposes. A surprising finding emerged from her longitudinal research on the topic; many of the young people with purpose ended up starting their own businesses or non-profit organizations to fill personally meaningful social needs that had gone unmet. Consequently, Bronk’s research has more recently focused on how young business leaders develop and on the development of young social entrepreneurs. Her work has been funded by the Spencer Foundation, the Thrive Foundation for Youth, and the John Templeton Foundation.

In addition to her substantive interests, Dr. Bronk has also helped define and outline the parameters of the exemplar methodology, an approach that allows researchers to gain a view of exemplary development, which is critical for a full understanding of human development.

Bronk teaches masters and doctoral classes on positive contexts for development, child development, and adolescent development. She also teaches a directed research course for first year positive developmental doctoral students. After graduating with a BS from Northwestern University, Dr. Bronk earned her doctorate from Stanford University and completed a post doc at the Stanford Center on Adolescence.

Click here to see Dr. Bronk's cv.

Click here to see Dr. Bronk's lab webpage.



Bronk, K. C. (2013). Purpose in life: A component of optimal youth development. New York: Springer.

Bronk, K. C., King, P. E., & Matsuba, K. (2013). The exemplar methodology. In K. Matsuba, K., P. E. King, & K. C. Bronk, (Eds.) New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 142(4), 1-12.

Bronk, K. C. (2012). A grounded theory of youth purpose. Journal of Adolescent Research, 27, 78-109.

Bronk, K. C. (2011). Portraits of purpose: The role of purpose in identity formation. New Directions for Youth Development, 132, 31-44.

Bronk, K. C., Finch, W. H. & Talib, T. (2010). The prevalence of a purpose in life among high ability adolescents. High Ability Studies, 21(2), 133-145.

Bronk, K. C. & Finch, W. H. (2010). Adolescent characteristics by type of long-term aim in life. Applied Developmental Science, 14(1), 1-10.

Bronk, K. C., Hill, P., Lapsley, D., Talib, T., & Finch, W. H. (2009). Purpose, hope, and life satisfaction in three age groups. Journal of Positive Psychology 4(6), 500-510.

Bronk, K. C. (2008). Humility among adolescent purpose exemplars. Journal of Research on Character Education, 6(1), 35-51.

Damon, W., Colby, A., Bronk, K. C., & Ehrlich, T. (Summer, 2005). Passion and mastery in balance: Toward good work in the professions. Daedalus: The Journal of the American Academy of the Art and Sciences 134(3), 27-35.

Damon, W., Menon, J. L., & Bronk, K. C. (2003). The Development of purpose during adolescence. Applied Developmental Science, 7(3), 119-128.