Greater purpose in life is linked to lower mortality risk, the findings showed. (Agencies)
"Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose," said Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada.
So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur, Hill added.
For the study, researchers looked at data from over 6000 participants, focusing on their self-reported purpose in life and other psychosocial variables that gauged their positive relations with others and their experience of positive and negative emotions.
Over a 14-year follow-up period, 569 of the participants had died. Those who had died had reported lower purpose in life and fewer positive relations than did survivors.
Greater purpose in life consistently predicted lower mortality risk across the lifespan, showing the same benefit for younger, middle-aged, and older participants across the follow-up period.
And the longevity benefits of purpose in life held even after other indicators of psychological well-being, such as positive relations and positive emotions, were taken into account.
"These findings suggest that there is something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater longevity," Hill noted.
The study appeared in the journal Psychological Science.
Greater purpose in life is linked to lower mortality risk, the findings showed.