The Influence of Emotional Support from Parents, Peers, and Romantic Partners on Changes in Purpose in Life and Mastery in Young Adulthood


  • Paweena Sukhawathanakul
  • Megan E. Ames
  • Bonnie J. Leadbeater



Purpose in life and mastery over one’s environment are important assets for positive youth development but little is known about how they change or interact during the transition to young adulthood, or how they may be moderated by support from relationships. The current study examines longitudinal associations between purpose in life and mastery in a sample of Canadian youth (N = 662) ages 18 to 29 across three biennial waves of data. Purpose in life and mastery were reciprocally associated within and across time, suggesting that these assets develop in tandem. However, emotional support from friends and romantic partners also moderated the associations. Specifically, the reciprocal association were significant for youth with high levels of friend and romantic partner support, but not for youth with low levels of support. Father and mother emotional support did not moderate the pathways. Findings highlight the importance of peer and romantic partner emotional support in cultivating youth’s sense of purpose in life and mastery during the transition to young adulthood.