Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Valerie A. Simon


Recent research has linked participation in organized activities to better psychosocial adjustment in youth including academic achievement, increased peer competence, and better mental health (Fredricks & Eccles, 2006). Although such benefits have been reported among youth from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, lower-income and ethnic minority youth have less access to organized activities (Quane & Rankin, 2006). The current study is among the first to explore whether more accessible forms of activity engagement, hobbies, confer similar benefits. I examine involvement in organized activities and hobbies among a sample of urban, mostly African American (73%) youth.

Results indicate that hobbies represent an important facet of young adolescent girls’ activity engagement that is distinct from engagement in organized activities. Unlike organized activity participation, hobby involvement was not related to family demographic risk or neighborhood problems indicating that they might be more accessible forms of activity engagement than organized activities. Additionally, greater involvement in both hobbies and organized activities were associated to aspects of positive psychosocial functioning. More involvement in organized activities was also related to less psychopathology. For youth with more contextual stressors, the associations between activity participation and adjustment were stronger. These findings are important in light of barriers to participation in organized activities among low-income, single-parent families. Attention to the benefits of hobbies warrants further investigation.

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Psychology Commons