Finding Purpose in Three Societies: Cultural and Developmental Analyses

Ulisses Ferreira Araújo, Matthew J. Bundick, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, William Damon, Seana Moran, Kirsi Tirri

Chair: William Damon
Presenters: Ulisses Ferreira Araújo (University of Sao Paulo), Matthew J. Bundick, Seana Moran and Kirsi Tirri (University of Helsinki)
Discussant: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Claremont Graduate University)

This symposium presents research from a cross-cultural study of the development of purpose among adolescents in Brazil, Finland and the United States, three culturally and socioeconomically varied countries. Purpose provides a moral compass for young people to apply their strengths and virtues to worthwhile endeavors, and may be considered a key element of both the Good Life and Meaningful Life. Survey data were used to explore mean differences and correlations among purpose, life meaningfulness, prosocial orientation, and a set of well-being indicators in young people ages 17-21. Findings suggest American and Brazilian youth are oriented toward and benefit from both individualistic and prosocial life goals, while Finnish youth are more oriented toward and benefit from individualistic life goals.