Baylor study finds Eagle Scouts benefit society

By Bre Nicols

Baylor Researchers have found members of the Boy Scouts of America who achieve the highest rank, Eagle Scout, have a positive, long-lasting effect on American society in a recent study titled “Merit Beyond the Badge.”

The Program on Prosocial Studies of Religion, part of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, partnered with the Gallup Organization to conduct a nationwide random survey in 2010 of 2,512 adult males. The John Templeton Foundation provided a two-year research grant to fund the study.

Dr. Byron R. Johnson, director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior and Institute for Studies of Religion co-director, said the research team included: Dr. Sung Joon Jang, a Baylor professor of sociology; Dr. Young-Il Kim, a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion; Dr. Buster Smith, a former Institute for Studies of Religion post-doctoral student; and Dr. Clay Polson, a sociologist at Messiah College.

Jang, one of two principal investigators for the study, said the findings complement the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scouts.

“Understandably, after producing Eagle Scouts for 100 years, Boy Scouts of America was interested in seeing if members were positively contributing to society,” Jang said.

Johnson said the focus of the study was to “determine if achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is associated with prosocial behavior and development of character that carries over into young adulthood and beyond.”

Three different groups were surveyed for the study: Eagle Scouts, Boy Scouts who had not received the Eagle Scout rank and non-scouts.

Johnon said in an email to the Lariat that results of the survey showed Eagle Scouts:

• Are more likely to participate in health and recreational activities

• Show a greater connection to family, coworkers, neighbors and the people around them

• Share a greater belief in duty to God, serving others and their communities

• Engage in behaviors that enhance and protect the environment

• Are more likely to commit to personal, professional, spiritual and financial goals

• Show higher levels of planning and preparedness

• Are more likely to develop positive character traits

Jang said anyone involved in Boy Scouts is more likely to contribute positively to society because of time they spent in the organization as an adolescent.

“The longer you stay with the program, the greater the benefits are from it,” Jang said, “because you go through different stages of awards, programs and projects that help you personally become aware of various social skills and what it means to have a good, meaningful life.”

Johnson said in an email the researchers will release another research report in June comparing Scouts to non-Scouts, in addition to the report that has already been released.

The full study can be downloaded at