Tufts Study confirms: Scouting builds character in 6 areas

We all know that Scouting’s goal is to prepare young people to succeed in life…but is it working?

For three years, a research team from Tufts University worked with the BSA’S Cradle of Liberty Council to measure the character attributes of both Scouts and non-Scouts – all with the goal of better understanding the character development of youth as it was happening.

At the beginning, there were no significant differences in character attributes between Scouts and non-Scouts. By the end, the differences were striking:

  • Over time, Scouts reported significant increases in several character areas, while non-Scouts did not.
  • Scouts are more likely to embrace positive social values than non-Scouts.
  • The more regular their meeting attendance, the better character attributes.
  • More tenure = better character attributes.
  • Better program + more involvement = better character attributes.

After 2.5 years of research, Cub Scouts reported significant increases in cheerfulness, helpfulness, kindness, obedience, trustworthiness, and hopeful future expectations. There were no significant increases reported among non-Scouts.

When asked what was “most important” to them, Scouts were significantly more likely than non-Scouts to choose “helping others” or “doing the right thing” vs. “being smart,” “being the best,” or “playing sports.”

Meeting Attendance Matters

Scouts who attend meetings regularly report higher trustworthiness, helpfulness, kindness, and thriftiness, higher levels of hopeful future expectation and self-regulation, better grades, and a better connection with nature vs. Scouts who “sometimes” or “rarely” attend.

Tenure Matters

As Scouts’ tenure in the program increases, they report higher levels of trustworthiness, intentional self-regulation, hopeful future expectations, and better grades.

Engagement Matters

Scouts who are more engaged in the program are more cheerful, helpful, and kind and have higher future expectation and intentional self-regulation. Highly engaged youth who are registered in highly engaged packs reported higher character attributes.

With fun and discovery at every turn, Scouting makes the most of right now. But what’s more, it builds positive character and provides young people a foundation they can stand on to embrace opportunity, overcome obstacles, and make new discoveries.



The full presentation