The Forms of Purpose in Adolescence

David S. Yeager, Matthew C. Andrews, Seana Moran, and William Damon

This paper describes the different forms of adolescent purpose in life. Fully engaged purposeful youth have identified something to accomplish that is meaningful to themselves and of intended consequence to the world beyond the self, and they are also committed to accomplishing it. Purposeful "dreamers" have identified a purpose in life, but have not yet committed themselves to it. Other youth have not identified a purpose in life. This paper provides qualitative descriptions of each of these forms, as well as the frequency of each form in 6th, 9th, 12th grade and in college, and their relation to measures of well-being.

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