Purpose may be defined as the ability to imagine and pursue valued goals. According to Erikson, Purpose the the balance between individual initiative and the willingness to cooperate with others


In psychology, 'Purpose' refers to the underlying reason or motivation behind an individual's actions, thoughts, and behaviors. It is a fundamental aspect of human existence that plays a crucial role in shaping one's identity, values, and goals in life. Purpose gives meaning and direction to our lives, guiding us towards a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and well-being.

Having a clear sense of purpose is associated with a variety of positive outcomes, including greater resilience in the face of challenges, increased motivation to achieve goals, and enhanced overall psychological well-being. Individuals who feel a strong sense of purpose are more likely to experience a greater sense of meaning and satisfaction in their daily activities, relationships, and work.

Research in psychology suggests that purpose can be cultivated and nurtured through self-reflection, goal-setting, and engaging in activities that align with one's values and passions. By identifying what is truly important and meaningful to us, we can cultivate a sense of purpose that serves as a guiding force in our lives.

Having a sense of purpose is also linked to better physical health, as individuals who feel a strong sense of purpose are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, take care of themselves, and seek out meaningful relationships and activities. Purpose can also act as a buffer against stress and adversity, giving individuals a sense of resilience and strength in times of challenge.

Application Areas

  • Self-discovery: Understanding one's unique talents, passions, and values in order to live a fulfilling life.
  • Goal-setting: Setting meaningful goals that align with one's purpose to increase motivation and satisfaction.
  • Decision-making: Using purpose as a guiding principle when making choices to ensure they are in line with one's values and direction in life.
  • Mental health: Finding purpose can provide a sense of meaning and direction, which can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Work and career: Identifying one's purpose can lead to greater job satisfaction, engagement, and success in the workplace.
  • Relationships: Having a sense of purpose can enhance relationships by promoting authentic connections and shared values.
  • Resilience: Having a strong sense of purpose can help individuals overcome adversity and bounce back from setbacks more effectively.

Well-Known Examples

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A goal-directed approach to therapy that focuses on changing negative patterns of thinking and behavior to improve mental health.
  • Existential therapy: A form of therapy that explores an individual's sense of purpose and meaning in life to help overcome feelings of existential crisis.
  • Positive psychology: A branch of psychology that studies optimal human functioning and aims to enhance well-being by focusing on strengths and virtues.
  • Self-determination theory: A theory that proposes humans have innate psychological needs that drive motivation and well-being, including the need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Treatment and Risks

  • Therapy: A form of treatment where a trained therapist helps individuals explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to gain insight and make positive changes.
  • Medication: Prescription drugs that can be used to help manage symptoms of mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.
  • Lifestyle changes: Making adjustments to one's daily habits, such as diet, exercise, and sleep, to improve overall mental well-being.
  • Support groups: Group therapy sessions where individuals can connect with others experiencing similar challenges and receive encouragement and advice.
  • Risks: Potential negative effects or consequences of engaging in certain treatments or interventions for mental health issues.

Similar Terms

  • Intention: A planned goal or objective.
  • Motivation: The reason or drive behind a person's actions or behaviors.
  • Objective: A specific aim or goal that someone strives to achieve.
  • Meaning: The significance or importance that an individual assigns to their actions or experiences.
  • Goal: An outcome or achievement that a person aims to attain.

Examples of Sentences

  • Purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between childhood trauma and adult mental health outcomes.
  • Participants were asked to write about their purposes in life to understand their values and goals.
  • The therapist helped the client explore their purpose's in order to find meaning and direction in their life.
  • Mindfulness meditation can help individuals purposefully focus their attention on the present moment.


Articles with 'Purpose' in the title

  • Purposeful distortion: Purposeful distortion is when the subjects "purposely" give false information in a survey which may "distort" the results. Purposeful distortion in psychology refers to the intentional manipulation or falsification of information, often . . .


In psychology, purpose refers to the intention or aim that guides individuals in their actions and decisions. It involves having a sense of direction and meaning in one's life, and can contribute to overall well-being and fulfillment. Having a sense of purpose has been associated with better mental health, increased resilience, and greater overall satisfaction with life. Individuals who have a clear purpose are often more motivated, focused, and resilient in the face of challenges. Finding and pursuing one's purpose can lead to a greater sense of identity, self-worth, and satisfaction in life.