What “purpose” means to youth: Are there cultures of purpose?
This study explores how youths’ own definitions of purpose correspond with the dimensions of Damon, Menon, and Bronk’s (2003) definition, and whether youth’s definitions form bases for cultures of purpose that encompass youth’s content of, confidence in, and integration of their purposes. Four cultures of purpose emerged: Supported, Strivers, Givers, and Disciples. The Supported focused on reasons and meaning for what they could gain from others and were confident in tandem with support received. Strivers aimed for primarily standard career success goals but felt uncertain. Givers felt certain about their aims to help others. Disciples, who tended to provide the most complex definitions, felt certain about their faith-focused purpose to serve God. These cultures of purpose provide insights about how purpose content and coherence function to integrate youths’ experiences, and how some cultures may be more likely to provide a foundation for further development of purpose.