https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/longevity/3548576-positive-interactions-linked-to-sense-of-purpose-study-finds/

Story at a glance


  • For the small study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers worked with close to 100 adults with an average age of around 71. 

  • Participants were asked three times each day to rate their social interactions.

  • Each evening they were asked to rate their overall interactions.

Positive social interactions among older adults can be tied to their sense of purpose, especially among those who are retired.  

“For everyone, but specifically for our retired older adults, the people in their lives really matter,” the study’s leader Gabrielle Pfund said in a release

For the small study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers worked with close to 100 adults with an average age of around 71.  

Participants were asked three times each day to rate their social interactions. Each evening they were asked to rate their overall interactions based on the question: “How much do you think your life had a purpose today?” 

Researchers found that the more positive social interactions a person had during the day, the more purposeful they felt during the evening questionnaire.  

Pfund said while most previous research was focused on the “big picture” her team’s findings suggest one’s sense of purposefulness can vary daily.  

“Most research on sense of purpose is focused on big-picture orientation of someone being purposeful versus someone being not purposeful,” Pfund said. 

“We found purpose can change from day to day,” Pfund continued. “Everyone was experiencing fluctuations relative to their own averages.” 

The authors noted the findings might be influenced by a couple of limitations, including that most of the study participants were healthy. 

Yet the authors pointed to previous research that shows the positive health benefits of social interactions, such as lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease and heart problems. 

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“By enhancing sense of purpose, older adults will then be more likely to experience the valuable cognitive and physical healthy aging benefits that come with it,” the authors wrote. 

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Published on Jul. 07, 2022

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