Cattle, Cultivation, and Culture: Mixed Methods Reveal Evolving Pathways to Maasai Positive Youth Development

Laura R. Johnson, Julie S. Johnson-Pynn, Christopher F. Drescher, Sumaye M. Kleruu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Optimizing majority world youths' capacity for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is an essential endeavor for psychology, yet African adolescents are rarely represented in psychology research. In this paper, we explore positive youth development (PYD) among Maasai adolescents, amid rapidly changing sociocultural and environmental circumstances in Northern Tanzania. Three methods were selected to elicit perspectives of three participant groups from varied living contexts. Method 1 used standardized PYD measures, a topdown approach, to assess and compare self-efficacy, developmental assets, ethnic identity, and environmental connection among schoolattending Maasai (n = 80) and non-Maasai adolescents (n = 60). Method 2 used participatory activities with school-Attending Maasai females (n = 16) to illuminate challenges and necessary assets from a girls' perspective. Method 3 used photovoice to capture perspectives from community-based adolescents (n = 12) using photographic images and discussion. Survey results showed Maasai participants were thriving compared to others, with strong overall assets, commitment to education and culture, and connection with the environment. School-based girls expressed gender-related challenges along with the need for strengths such as confidence, hard work, education, and bodily autonomy. Community participants produced photographs illustrating a major shift in livelihoods from cattle grazing to cultivation and permanent housing, along with strengths such as working together and sustainable husbandry. Through diverse methods, we gained unique perspectives regarding Maasai adolescents' contemporary context revealing spirited and flexible pathways toward achieving optimum development for themselves and their communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-237
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Africa
  • Maasai
  • mixed methods
  • photovoice
  • positive youth development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cattle, Cultivation, and Culture: Mixed Methods Reveal Evolving Pathways to Maasai Positive Youth Development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this