This article describes a new conceptual approach to youth spiritual development positing it as a universal aspect of positive youth development and presents initial empirical evidence for the cross-cultural validity of this theory. Based on an international survey with 6725 youth in eight countries it provides a global portrait of the spiritual lives of 12–25 year olds. The development and psychometric properties of core spiritual development and religious/spiritual engagement across nations and religious traditions are described. Finally a personcentered analytic technique is used to explore profiles of the unique ways spiritual development manifests itself in the lives of young people. Results suggest that spiritual development is an active process among the majority of youth across diverse religious and cultural backgrounds with most having spiritual development unfold without particularly strong engagement in explicitly religious or spiritual practices.
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