Empowering People through Behavioral Science

Purpose Across the Lifespan

In exploring the human experience of purpose, the NPP project has identified several core themes that are particularly significant, and which provide a useful framework for organizing our activities.  This page displays the content from this website tagged for one of those themes: Purpose Across the Lifespan.

Sometimes people have the same goals and purposes for most of their life, yet other times they abandon some goals or adopt new ones. Work on Purpose Across the Lifespan considers the many implications of this fact, asking questions like: How do specific goals develop in children? What are the factors that determine whether and for how long these early goals will be pursued? What prompts people to abandon existing goals or adopt new ones? In what ways do goals change with various milestones throughout life (e.g., the birth of children, retirement)? See below for content related to our emerging insights.

News See All Types »

Nov 29 2014
Purpose Across the Lifespan

Countdown to big birthdays: how it feels to be on the cusp

(The Guardian) Five years ago, soon after he turned 29, Adam Alter, a South African-born, Australian-raised academic living in New York, was struck by a sudden realisation: in less than a year, barring calamities, he’d be 30. Maybe he shouldn’t have been so surprised, given that his job, as a professor of marketing and psychology, meant that he knew more mathematics than most, but it came as a shock. “I had a fire lit under me,” recalls Alter, author of Drunk Tank Pink, a book about the subconscious forces that shape how we act. “I thought, I need to make sure I’m living the right kind of life! I needed to do something that felt like it was a big enough goal, so it felt like there was meaning in my life.”

In the News
Nov 20 2014
Purpose in Goal Pursuit

Birthday Years Ending in 9 Prompt Big Life Decisions, Study Shows

(ABC News) People whose ages end in 9 tend to be more likely to seek extramarital affairs, run marathons and commit suicide compared with those whose ages ended in other digits, according to a new study.

In the News
Nov 17 2014
Purpose in Goal Pursuit

We Make Our Big Life Decisions at 29, 39, and So On

(New York Magazine) The years before beginning a brand-new decade — ages 29, 39, and so on — tend to be spent in self-reflection, according to a new paper published online today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These are the prime What am I doing with my life? years, in other words, which prompts many people to behave in ways that suggest “an ongoing or failed search for meaning,” the authors write. Their data suggests that these are the ages when people are more likely to either train harder for a marathon or run one for the first time; they’re also the ages when more people tend to cheat on their marriages or take their own lives.

In the News
Apr 08 2014
Purpose Across the Lifespan

Four Ways to Adapt to an Aging Workforce

(Harvard Business Review) Calls to maximize the utility of older workers — by honoring experience, providing training opportunities, and offering flexible work and retirement options — began to sound at least a decade ago. But proposing reform is one thing. Instituting it is another. Have companies followed through?

In the News
 
Design By: