Are all purposes worth having? Integrating content and strength in purpose research

A prevailing belief is that a sense of purpose in life is worth having, based on evidence that it predicts greater psychological functioning, social relationships, physical health, and longevity. Yet, whether the benefits of having a sense of purpose persist across all contents - or the actual substance of one's aspirations - lingers as a critical blind spot within this literature. Here, we contend that an ecological systems perspective is needed to contextualize how purpose content either enables or extinguishes the benefits of feeling purposeful. We nominate congruence (the fit between a purpose and ecological conditions) and feasibility (the ease with which a purpose can be pursued) as measurable features of purpose content that fuse people and contexts and potentiate whether a sense of purpose proves favorable. Greater congruence and feasibility should orchestrate support for purpose-related goals, actions, and justifications, thus amplifying the likelihood of positive outcomes. Practical strategies for integrating the congruence and feasibility of individuals' aspirations within the study of purpose are discussed.



Work Title Are all purposes worth having? Integrating content and strength in purpose research
Open Access
  1. Anthony L. Burrow
  2. Jennifer P. Agans
  3. Hee Jin Jeon
  4. Michael Creim
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Human Development
Publication Date January 1, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited July 21, 2021




This resource is currently not in any collection.

Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Burrow__Agans__Jeon____Creim__2021_-_Accepted_Version_-_Are_all_purposes_worth_having_Integrating_content_and_strength_in_purpose_research.pdf
  • Added Creator Anthony L. Burrow
  • Added Creator Jennifer P. Agans
  • Added Creator Hee Jin Jeon
  • Added Creator Michael Creim
  • Published
  • Updated
  • Updated