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October 11-13, 2019: Society for the Study of Human Development

Chair:  Heather Malin                                    

Purpose is a character strength and psychological asset that contributes to general health and well-being. Of particular relevance to the theme of the conference, past research shows that purpose is associated with resilience. More recent research explores this association with nuanced examination of purpose as a predictor of positive outcomes in response to adverse experiences and conditions such as anxiety and stress, and a moderator that attenuates the negative effects of stress on healthy psychological development. In this symposium, developmental scientists who currently study the relationship among purpose, adversity, and resilience will present their most recent findings. Two papers report findings from new data on purpose and resilience among young adults, one looking at purpose as a moderator of the relationship between stress and life satisfaction among college students and another examining purpose as a resource for emerging adults who report feeling derailed in life. The third paper reports findings from an interview study that explores the intersection of critical consciousness and purpose, and how they work together to empower a proactive response to adversity. The fourth paper describes the theoretical foundation for a new study of purpose reflection as an intervention for adolescents with suicidal ideation.

Collectively, these papers provide a deeper understanding of purpose as a distinct character strength that is a protective factor and resource for overcoming life stressors. The discussion will highlight the role that purpose plays in supporting people through stress and adversity, and what mechanisms might drive the relationship between purpose and resilience.

Presentation Location: 

Portland, OR

Presentation Date: 
Saturday, October 12, 2019