Adolescents finding purpose: Comparing purpose and life satisfaction in the context of Singaporean and Israeli moral education

Mary Anne Heng, Ina Blau, Gavin W. Fulmer, Xiaofang Bi, Andrew Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose is an intention over the long-term to have an effect on the world that is both meaningful to oneself and to others. What are schools doing to help students use the knowledge and skills they learn in school in their own lives and aspirations? This is the first study that compares adolescent purposes and life satisfaction in Singaporean and Israeli schools. Findings showed four purpose clusters for Singaporean adolescents: No Orientation, Self-focused, Other-focused, and both Self- and Other-focused. Israeli adolescents were in three purpose clusters: Self-focused, Other-focused, and Self- and Other-focused. The purpose groups differed on average life satisfaction in both countries: Self- and Other-focused were highest, followed by Self-focused and Other-focused. The No Orientation group in Singapore was lowest. Notably, beyond these differences between the groups, Israeli adolescents reported significantly higher life satisfaction in each purpose group. We discuss implications for schools and education policymakers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-322
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Moral Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Singapore research was supported by the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (OER 10/13 MAH and RS 7/16 MAH). The Israel research was supported by the Research Authority funding, The Open University of Israel.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Journal of Moral Education Ltd.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Youth purpose
  • life satisfaction
  • moral education


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