What is it about?

People tend to hold multiple simultaneous life goals. We examined patterns of people's aspirations and found three reliable profiles of life goals, which were replicated across multiple countries and more than 11,000 people. We found that the happiest people were those typified by a profile focused on making the world a better place. People characterized by a pattern of life goals that were self-focused or focussed primarily on close relationships rather than community relationships were less happy. In other words, it seems the wider one’s scope of concern for others, the better off one may be.

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Why is it important?

This research is important because it suggests that being prosocially-oriented is beneficial both for others and for ourselves. It is intuitive that when you help people, those people benefit. However, this research suggests that, in addition to helping others, when the heart of your aspirations is to contribute to the community, you also benefit.


This research uses state-of-the-art statistics to make an important person-centered point. The use of innovative quantitative methods to produce socially meaningful results was especially meaningful for the research team.

Emma Bradshaw

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A configural approach to aspirations: The social breadth of aspiration profiles predicts well-being over and above the intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations that comprise the profiles., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January 2021, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/pspp0000374.
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