International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Purpose In Adolescence, What Am I Here For? A Qualitative Examination on the Expression, Development and Integration of Purpose in At-Risk and Thriving Male Adolescents

Krystal J. White

Graduate School of Psychology Fuller Theological Seminary

Linda M. Wagener

Graduate School of Psychology Fuller Theological Seminary

James L. Furrow

Graduate School of Psychology Fuller Theological Seminary


This study examined the differential role of purpose in the lives of high school male students representing a range of personal and academic well-being, including both thriving and at-risk participants. A primary aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive description of the  types of purpose adolescent males express and to investigate the degree to which they are integrated into their lives. Results suggest that most youth, even those at risk, can articulate a sense of purpose, and the majority identify school as a primary source of purpose in their lives. This study found that while most young men report having purposes, these purposes lack differentiation and are just beginning to be defined. Most young men report having purposes that they are optimistic about fulfilling, are realistic in nature, influence their decisions and are salient.

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