The benefits of reflecting on and discussing purpose in life in emerging adulthood

New Dir Youth Dev. 2011 Winter;2011(132):89-103, 10-1. doi: 10.1002/yd.430.


The benefits of understanding and pursuing one's purposes in life are well documented. However, few studies have addressed potential interventions for enhancing purpose. This article presents the results of an empirical investigation testing whether reflecting on and discussing one's core values, life goals, and purposes in life has benefits for later purpose, as well as later life satisfaction. The study involved a pretest/posttest experimental design with 102 college students, with posttest measures administered nine months later. Results showed that those who engaged in the guided discussion of their values, life goals, and purpose (compared to those who did not) benefited in terms of their goal directedness and life satisfaction and that the benefits for life satisfaction were partially attributable to changes in goal directedness. The article concludes by highlighting implications for practitioners of all kinds, including parents, with recommendations for implementing the purpose discussion in a variety of youth settings.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development*
  • California
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Psychological Theory
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult