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Purpose and coping with adversity: A repeated measures, mixed-methods study with young adolescents

Publication Authors: 
Heather Malin, Emily R. Morton, Amber Nadal, and Krystal A. Smith
Publication Year: 
Publication Journal: 
Journal of Adolescence 76, 1-11.

Purpose in life is associated with positive outcomes following adversity, but the mechanisms of this relationship are unclear. In this repeated measures, mixed-methods study, we examined the relationship of purpose to coping with adversity among young adolescents. A sample of 1,357 adolescents completed a survey about purpose, negative life events, and positive reframing coping four times at six- month intervals. A sub-sample of 91 survey respondents participated in an interview. Surveys were analyzed using fixed-effects and mixed-effects modeling to test the relationship between purpose and coping over time. Interviews were analyzed for purpose, adversity, and coping to understand this relationship as perceived by the participant. Survey results indicate that purpose and positive reframing coping are related and change together over time. Interview results suggest that purpose can be a response to negative experiences. There are likely underlying factors or processes driving the relationship between purpose and positive reframing coping. Some of the potential underlying factors and processes are discussed.