Fostering Purpose in Adolescence: The Roles of Social Supports, Individual Characteristics, and Activity Involvements

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

The current paper explores the individual characteristics and social supports which may foster purpose in adolescence. Specifically, we focus on three forms of purpose: “non-purpose,” “beyond-the-self dreamer” (a.k.a., “purpose-identification only”), and “beyond-the-self purpose” (a.k.a., “purpose-engagement”). The study was designed to test two primary hypotheses, that purpose-identification and purpose-engagement are fostered by 1) the presence of social support, and 2) individual characteristics such religiosity, future orientation, and resilience. Both hypotheses were largely confirmed. Additionally, we explore the relationships between various youth activities and adolescent purpose, and the roles of age, gender, and race.