Buffering the Negative Impact of Poverty on Youth: The Power of Purpose in Life

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Adolescent poverty is associated with increased antisocial and decreased prosocial behaviors. Attenuating these negative effects is relevant for both individual and societal well-being. Research exploring how youth in poverty can escape antisocial behaviors and move toward prosocial behaviors has been limited primarily to risk factors. From a strengths perspective, we sought to understand how a potential resiliency factor—purpose in life—could protect youngsters from the deleterious effects of poverty. We conceptualized purpose in life as a central, future-oriented, goal-organizing framework that provides adolescents reasons to resist antisocial behavior and engage in prosocial behaviors. In moderation analyses, purpose in life mitigated the effects of poverty on antisocial behavior (i.e., disobedience and bullying), but failed to boost prosocial traits and behaviors for youth in poverty. We emphasize the importance of developing a sense of purpose in economically disadvantaged youth for bettering their lives and communities.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Machell, KA; Disabato, DJ; Kashdan, TB

Published Date

  • March 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 126 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 845 - 861

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-0921

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0303-8300

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11205-015-0917-6

Citation Source

  • Scopus