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Development of a Sense of Purpose in Adolescents Who Experience Marginalization

Principal Investigator (PI) / Project Lead:

MIN, MEEYOUNG O.

Funding Organization:

University of Utah Research Foundation

RFP / FOA:

Research Incentive Seed Grant Program – College of Social Work

Award Number:

None

Project Period:

4/1/2023 – 3/31/2024

Total Funding:

$26,250

Project Status:

In progress

 

Project Description:

This application proposes a pilot study exploring the development of a sense of purpose in life and barriers and facilitators in achieving the purpose among underrepresented minority, mainly Latinx, adolescents, who experience marginalization due to their race/ethnicity, low socio-economic status (SES), and/or immigration status.

 

Abstract:

This application proposes a pilot study exploring the development of a sense of purpose in life and barriers and facilitators in achieving the purpose among underrepresented minority, mainly Latinx, adolescents, who experience marginalization due to their race/ethnicity, low socio-economic status (SES), and/or immigration status. Committing to a purpose reflects healthy identity development and may serve as an important source of resiliency for youth exposed to poverty and adverse life events. However, very little is known about the nature of and the pathways to purpose in adolescents experiencing marginalization and how experiences of marginalization may affect the exploration of and commitment to a purpose in life. Previous studies have predominantly focused on relatively privileged, racially and ethnically homogeneous white middle-class adolescents, neglecting non-white, underprivileged adolescents’ experiences. This proposed study will employ an explanatory sequential mixed-methods design. Specific aims are: 1) conduct quantitative analyses to explore how Latinx adolescents define the construct of purpose in life and how experience of marginalization affects their development of purpose in life in terms of scope, strength, and awareness; 2) employ qualitative research methods to explore how Latinx adolescents discover purpose in life by utilizing a subsample who identified a purpose in life; and 3) developmental correlates of purpose, including substance use, mental health, and coping, will be assessed for the entire sample at both baseline and a 6-month follow-up. We will recruit a non-probability sample of ~60 Latinx adolescents in 9th-12th grades  through University Neighborhood Partners, a local community agency that mainly serves Latinx and immigrant populations/youth who have low SES. Thematic analysis will be used to identify patterns and themes within qualitative data sets. To ensure credibility and trustworthiness, at least two coders will engage in iterative discussions about the appropriateness and definitions of codes and themes, continually refining and redefining codes and themes throughout the analytic process. Findings from the proposed study will 1) contribute to the refinement of developmental theories by elucidate the impact of marginalization on the development of a sense of purpose and 2) guide and develop effective purpose-fostering programs that help youth identify meaningful ways of addressing marginalization and hardships in their lives, which may lead to the alleviation, reversal, and eradication of the deleterious sequelae of marginalization.

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Last Updated: 11/2/23