Understanding the pathways to purpose: Examining personality and well-being correlates across adulthood

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Understanding the pathways to purpose: Examining personality and well-being correlates across adulthood

Although finding a purpose is almost universally accepted as a developmental achievement relatively little research has sought to understand the potential means by which individuals do so. Using a newly developed measure the current studies examined the personality and well-being profiles of individuals who reported following any of three different pathways to purpose: (1) proactive engagement (2) reaction to significant life events or (3) social learning. Across both emerging adult (n = 179) and adult (n = 307) samples we demonstrated that individuals along these three pathways differ in theoretically meaningful ways. For instance proactively engaged individuals report greater agency and openness to experience while individuals who found a purpose primarily through reactive means are less likely to be exploring their life aims. Engagement with any pathway though coincided with greater well-being due to the fact that following these paths may lead to a sense of purpose in life.

Citation: 
The Journal of Positive Psychology , 2014 Vol. 9, No. 3, 227 – 234

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