Skip to content Skip to navigation

Purpose and character development in early adolescence

Publication Authors: 
Heather Malin, Indra Liauw, & William Damon
Publication Year: 
Publication Journal: 
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(6), 1200-1215. DOI 10.1007/s10964-017-0642-3

This study examines the developmental relations between purpose and three other key character strengths that emerge during early adolescence: gratitude, compassion, and grit. We analyzed survey (n = 1,005) and interview (n =98) data from a longitudinal study of character development among middle school students from the United States. Data analyses showed small but significant correlations between purpose and each of the other three character strengths under investigation. Interview data revealed patterns in ways that adolescents acted on their purposeful aspirations; and interview analyses identified qualitative differences in expressions of gratitude and compassion between adolescents who were fully purposeful and those who were not.