Please report broken links to us. Paid resources are noted with **. Note: all research should be looked at through a critical lens, there is no denying that many research studies fail to be replicated or have mixed results.


The role of purpose in life in healthy identity formation: A grounded model. Cotton Bronk, Kendall. New Directions for Student Leadership. 2012.

  • Adolescents had incredibly close ties between their purpose and identity. When teenagers understood their place in the world, they took more purposeful actions and understood more about who they were.

Persevering with Positivity and Purpose: An Examination of Purpose Commitment and Positive Affect as Predictors of Grit. Cotton Bronk, Kendall, Hill, Patrick, & Burrow, Anthony. Journal of Happiness Studies. 2014.

  • Grit - as in working hard to achieve your goals - had substantial correlation with those who had life direction and commitment to a purpose.

GoodWork: Theory and Practice. Gardner, Howard (editor). 2010.

  • An extensive look at what it means to work in “Good Work” - or work that has purpose, meaning, and intrinsically motivated goals. Written by a collection of experts on purpose.

Character strengths predict subjective well-being during adolescence. Gillham, Jane, et. al. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2011.

  • Research finds that 9th and 10th grade students had greater life satisfaction and less depressive symptoms when they found meaning and love in their lives.

Buffering the Negative Impact of Poverty on Youth: The Power of Purpose in Life. Machell, Kyla, Disabato, David, & Kashdan, Todd. Soc Indic Res. 2016.

  • Teenagers who live in poverty, who often face increased antisocial and decreased prosocial behavior, can alleviate and escape from these mindsets by finding a purpose in life - developing skills to achieve in spite of adversity.

Adolescents’ purpose in life and engagement in risky behaviors: Differences by gender and ethnicity. Sayles, Martha. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. 1995.

  • Students who scored low in having a life purpose and/or meaning were significantly more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as using dangerous drugs or drinking and driving.


The Development of Purpose During Adolescence. Damon, William, Menon, Jenni, & Cotton Bronk, Kendall. Applied Developmental Science. 2003.

  • A summary of pitfalls in the research of purpose-finding as well as the current research that exists in the field.

Understanding the pathways to purpose: Examining personality and well-being correlates across adulthood. Hill, Patrick, Sumner, Rachel & Burrow, Anthony. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2014. 

  • Notes that those who are proactive at finding their purpose in life have greater emotional/social well-being, as well as a greater agency in comparison to those whose purpose came about on its own.