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Abstract and Keywords

Purpose is a unique character strength that develops over the life span, beginning with the formulation of personal, family, and vocational goals in early adolescence. A growing body of research has produced a clear picture, international and multicultural in scope, of how purpose is acquired and sustained, how purpose functions, how new purposes evolve over the life span, and how purpose relates to other character strengths and psychological capacities. The chapter presents a psychological definition of purpose, describes the dynamics of purpose development, and reviews studies of purpose across a variety of cultural contexts. The chapter also discusses education for purpose in secular and religious schools.

Keywords: purpose, character, culture, identity development, self understanding, religious faith, moral commitment

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