Portrait of Kendall Cotton-Bronk
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  • Degrees
    PhD, Psychological Studies in Education, Stanford University
    BS, Communication Studies, Northwestern University
  • Research Interests
    Adolescent moral development, Positive youth development

Kendall Cotton Bronk is an associate professor of psychology in the Division of Behavioral & Social Sciences. She is a developmental psychologist interested understanding and supporting the positive development and 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 in life. Work in her Adolescent Moral Development lab is currently focused on creating and testing interventions for fostering purpose among young people, on understanding the development of purpose among marginalized youth, and on learning how global political and economic events influence young people’s view of the future and their role in it. Her work has been funded by the Spencer Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation.

In addition to her substantive interests, Bronk has also helped define and outline the parameters of the exemplar methodology, an approach to empirical research that provides insight into exemplary, or highly developed, forms of growth. Understanding not only what is common but also what is possible is critical to a complete understanding of human development and flourishing. Bronk teaches master’s and doctoral classes on positive contexts, child development, adolescent development, and qualitative research methods. She also teaches a directed research course for first-year positive developmental doctoral students.

After graduating with a BS from Northwestern University, Bronk earned her doctorate from Stanford University and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Stanford Center on Adolescence.

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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0743558411412958.

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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/S1532480XADS0703_2.

Positive Contexts
Adolescent Development
Child Development