Purpose Trajectories During Middle Adolescence: The Roles of Family, Teacher, and Peer Support

Hung Yang Chen, Hawjeng Chiou, Ching Ling Cheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


While studies on youth’s purpose have flourished in the last two decades, the work was mostly cross-sectional and derived from Western settings. This research examined the developmental trajectories of purpose exploration and commitment of Taiwanese youth during middle adolescence, with a focus on how they associate with youth’s psychological functioning in terms of life satisfaction and depressive symptoms and whether social support moderates such development. A total of 369 vocational high school students in Taiwan (45% females; Mage = 15.82 years) participated in a four-wave study spanning two years with a one-semester interval. The results of piecewise growth curve modeling in the context of structural equation modeling suggested that purpose commitment increased over 10th grade, decreased initially in 11th grade, and then continued to increase. Purpose exploration similarly increased over 10th grade, but after the initial 11th grade dip remained stable. In addition to the higher initial levels, the steeper the rate of purpose exploration and commitment ascent and the slighter the rate of reduction predicted enhanced youth life satisfaction. The trajectory of purpose commitment also predicted reduced depressive symptoms, but such effects did not occur for purpose exploration. Moreover, multi-group analyses revealed that the more family, teacher, and peer support youth perceived, the more likely youth explored and committed to purpose over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-304
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb


  • Family support
  • Middle adolescence
  • Peer support
  • Piecewise growth curve modeling
  • Purpose
  • Teacher support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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