The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.
Studies with adults have suggested that a sense of purpose in life is an integral component of well-being that fuels hope and optimism and has a variety of positive effects on individuals’ physical and mental health.
However, less is known about the effects of purposefulness in adolescents, who, while characteristically hopeful, are in the throes of developing their identities, making choices that reflect who they are and aspire to be, according to the study.
Educational psychology professor Kaylin Ratner of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign led the current study, which examined how youths’ feelings of purposefulness related to their daily levels of life satisfaction and subjective well-being.
Each day for 70 days, the participants — teens ages 14-19 — were asked to rate how purposeful they felt, how satisfied they were with their life and the levels of positive and negative emotions they were feeling.
The researchers also tracked day-to-day variations in purposefulness by subtracting the teens’ daily purpose score from their dispositional level of purpose.
On the daily assessments, those in the study rated how much they were feeling four positive emotions — content, relaxed, enthusiastic or joyful — and four negative emotions — angry, anxious, sluggish or sad.
“Teens who scored high on purpose were more satisfied with their lives and experienced more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions,” said Ratner, who collected the data while working as a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University. “Importantly, we found that on the days when these adolescents felt more purposeful than usual, they also tended to experience greater well-being.”
The study was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
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