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Aging with Purpose: Developmental Changes and Benefits of Purpose in Life Throughout the Lifespan

Part of the International Perspectives on Aging book series (Int. Perspect. Aging,volume 26)

Abstract

In this chapter, we review the change trajectories and benefits of purpose throughout the lifespan. We begin by defining two aspects of purpose: (1) sense of purpose, or the extent to which one perceives their life to have goals and directions, and (2) purpose in life, or the specific goals one articulates. Next, we discuss the purpose development process through which one traverses in adolescence and emerging adulthood, and the benefits those with a purpose experience in the context of identity development and well-being. From there, we outline the developmental trajectories of purpose in middle and older adulthood, before narrowing in on the physical and cognitive health benefits associated with a higher sense of purpose. We conclude by discussing future directions to further understand the mechanisms through which purpose promotes healthy development across the lifespan, as well as the current gaps in the purpose and aging literature.

Keywords

  • Purpose in life
  • Lifespan development
  • Sense of purpose
  • Health
  • Cognitive aging

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Fig. 3.1

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Correspondence to Gabrielle N. Pfund .

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Pfund, G.N., Lewis, N.A. (2020). Aging with Purpose: Developmental Changes and Benefits of Purpose in Life Throughout the Lifespan. In: Hill, P., Allemand, M. (eds) Personality and Healthy Aging in Adulthood. International Perspectives on Aging, vol 26. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-32053-9_3

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