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Youth purpose and positive youth development

Publication Authors: 
Jenni Menon Mariano and J. Going
Publication Year: 
Publication Journal: 
In R. Lerner and J. Lerner (Eds.), Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Vol. 41. Boston, MA: Elsevier. pp. 39-68.

This chapter reviews research findings on youth purpose as it relates to positive youth development (PYD) and thriving. The authors note that purpose is defined in multiple ways in the youth development literature, including one-dimensional and multi-dimensional definitions, and those that combine purpose with other constructs, like meaning. Although research on youth purpose and thriving is in its early stages, however, multiple other purpose-like constructs appear in the positive youth development literature, such as life goals, contribution, and sparks, that can tell us about how purpose and PYD may interact. Recent research suggests that purpose aligns with several positive states during adolescence and young adulthood, like life -satisfaction, coping, generosity, optimism, humility, mature identity status, and more global personality integration. Purpose may also be promoted through social support from people in young people’s lives who are sensitive and responsive to their interests and concerns.