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PSY202 Psychology- The Most Important Factor in Living Longer

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Part 1

It is called: “The Most Important Factor in Living Longer? A Sense of Purpose in Life.”

What we would like you to do is to read this press release and do the following:

In what ways does the press release misrepresent the findings of the original journal article? What are some of the scientific or methodological weaknesses of the research that is being discussed?

Part 2

Write your own press release, based on a second journal article that is on a similar topic to the original journal article from Part 1 of the assignment. It is called “Residents of Poor Nations Have a Greater Sense of Meaning in Life Than Residents of Wealthy Nations” and was written by Oishi & Diener (2014)


Part 1:

The very famous research report named “Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality Across Adulthood” is an important report that was being published after a research conducted by the authors Patrick A. Hill and Nicholas A Turiano. The authors conducted a research on a selected research group in order to examine and investigate whether having a sense of purpose in life can help in enhancing the longevity of human life. Based on the findings and evaluation of the same, the Press Release named “The Most Important Factor in Living Longer:  A Sense of Purpose in Life” was published (Hill & Turiano, 2014). The following report intends to compare ad analyze the results of the research as discussed in the originally published report and the Press Release written afterwards and identify factual or content-related error if any, in the process.

First of all, the press release rightly claims that the research was being conducted by Hill and Turiano with the purpose of examining the probable relation existing between having a sense of purpose in life and enjoying a longer span of life. Accordingly the research was being conducted on a research group of 7,108 participants, and yet the press release claims that the research was being conducted on 6,163 people, which is a glaring instance of factual error. While the press release rightly states how each of the respondents had to state their age, sex, ethnicity and employment status before responding to the research questions, it fails to mention here that each of the respondents was being asked about their feelings over an average span of last 30 days as to what they exactly felt like. This is a remarkable error as it omits a highly informative fact, as it had helped the researchers understand how far the respondents had a purpose in life, and thereby determine the effect of the same on the life span of the respondents in near future.  Although it does refer to the questions of positive and negative emotions, the press release fails to explain the importance of these questions in the concerned research (Leider, 2015).

As far as the research methods are concerned, the press release highlights the importance of the quantitative research method only, without considering the equally important role literature review has played in the research. In the actual research report, the authors directly refer to the importance of literature review and critical analysis of the data collected from the literary sources, such as past published articles and journals. According to the original research report, the authors first read literary sources, and tried to collect information regarding the potential relation that exists between life spam of an individual, and his purpose in life. Based on the review of the literary articles, Hill and Turiano conducted a quantitative research on the concerned participants. However, in the press release, mention has only been made of the research survey conducted. It does not refer, for once, the role secondary sources of data played in confirming and reinforcing the data collected through the survey.

Besides, it is equally important to mention here that the research does make a major misinterpretation of the findings of the data towards the end of the press release. A press release should necessarily sum up the essence of the results obtained from a research report, and yet in case of the following press release, the results were being misinterpreted. The press release all at once oversimplifies the entire problem, and tries to claim that the research reports show a direct relation between having a purpose in life an enjoying the longevity of life (Gamesh, 2014). However, what the research intends to claim is that there might be a potential relation between the two given the situation, and that the factors or the reasons that might instigate this relation is not yet known. However, this press release takes a very casual approach, and claims that when an individual has a purpose in life, he or she usually stays happier, which in turn reduces anxiety or stress related factors (De Bono, 2016). However, this statement is not only a mere over-simplification of the problem statement, but it does necessarily misinterpret the situation. It should be noted here that happiness may be indirectly affected by stress related factors in a negative way; yet staying happy cannot be rightly regarded as a factor leading to the longevity of life. A person can be happy, and yet he can be without a purpose or ambition in life (Dolan, 2014). Due to the absence of any desire or external happiness, the person may attain inner peace and self-content that can elevate his happiness, but it may not necessarily imply that he will enjoy a longer span of time. Again, here the individual is happy and yet he does not have a purpose in life. Hence, the press release does make a false claim when it states that the research result summarizes the importance of purpose in ensuring a longer life, simply on ground of the fact that that purpose makes one happier. The present research report does not establish, for once, any sort of relation existent between happiness and purpose in life, and hence the press release has over-generalized and misconstrued the conclusion in its own way (Newman & Newman, 2014).

Further, the press release has claimed that in the recent update of the research report in the year of 2016, the authors have also claimed that an individual who has a purpose in life is more likely to have a huge bank balance that would eventually promote his happiness and lead to better living conditions ultimately affecting the life span (Gamesh, 2014). However, no such claim has being made by the research report. The report does not at all establish any relation existing between prosperity and wealth of an individual and longer life span. The very approach towards the problem statement is wrong, as stated in the press release. The purpose, as shown in the original research study, does not necessarily refer to any materialistic purpose, for a man on spiritual quest can be said to have a purpose in life that can increase his longevity as well.

It should again be noted here that the press release of the originally published research paper claims that this research paper was the first published paper that has established that having a purpose in life is inherently associated with the longevity of life. However, such a claim is completely based on assumptions, as many research works before this had also established the point. This paper is based on the research conducted on people, and hence it was the first paper that has scientifically established the likely relation between the two factors. However, many research papers much before the study was conducted claimed that having a purpose in life is highly essential for anyone who wishes to live longer. This is nothing short of an exaggerated claim, whereby the author in his attempt to praise the research article went to the extent of calling it to be the first published article on the concept, despite the presence of various articles before 2014. It would also be interesting to note the names of a few research articles, such as “Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier Life by the Simple Act of Giving” authored by Post and Neimark, was published in the year of 2004, that deals with the very same theme as this (Friedman & Kern, 2014). However, the only point that can potentially distinguish the above mentioned article from the present research article is that the latter unlike the former conducts a survey to substantiate the claim, while the former conducts a qualitative study only, and thus only discuss how purpose has a direct relation with longevity in life (Hill & Keohane, 2016).

It is also important to note that the press release does not clearly explain or even examine the data analysis methods as used by Hill and Turiano in the actual research paper. The press release being extremely pithy in style merely mentions that the research was being conducted by asking the respondents whether they had any sense of purpose in life, and eventually their life span was being later evaluated. However, the actual research report carried an in-depth analysis of the purpose of life of each of the respondents. The respondents were not merely being asked if they had a materialistic purpose in life or not, as the researchers believed that an individual may have a sense of purpose in life, if he loves or cares for another individual as well. Consequently, the respondents were asked whether they had the presence of a single person in their lives, which they wanted to hold on to. Accordingly, the research was being conducted with respondents having materialistic or spiritual aims or purposes in life, and those lacking the same. Besides, as far as the data analysis method is concerned, it should be noted that the research was being conducted on all the age groups of people, that is the young, adult and the old aged people formed an integral part of the respondents. As a result, to achieve proportionality of purpose among all age groups, the research carried out three tests across all the age groups, as this would help in understanding the relation between the two variables across all the age groups. Hence, it is important to state here that owing to its paucity of style, the press release does not clearly examine the measures employed by the original researchers for assessing and analyzing the collected data.

Another very important fact that should be stated here is that the press release understates the information present in the research report, and makes claims that are not at all factual. According to the press release, the original research report intends to explain how having a sense of purpose in life during the 80’s can help an individual enjoy a longer life span. However, this is not at all mentioned in the research for once. The original research report claims that having a sense of purpose in life, helps in ensuring longevity in life for all the age groups, and this explains the reason why the research was being conducted on three age groups- the young, adult and elderly part of the population, so that the impact of purpose in life can be analyzed in all the age groups. Further, this purpose of the research is further being reinforced towards the end of the study where the researchers claim that considering the benefits of having purpose in life among all age groups, young people should be encouraged to develop their purposes very early in life. The purpose or the very aim of the research has been misinterpreted by the author of the Press Release.

Despite the fact that the present research study does contribute to knowledge regarding the importance of having a purpose in life in ensuring a longer life span, it would be discreet to evaluate some of the rival explanations of this fact as well. First of all, a person may not have any purpose in life, yet he may not necessarily commit suicide, and choose to live a healthy life. Accordingly, he may choose to eat healthy, maintain a peaceful life, and choose to practice Yoga (Nusslock & Miller, 2016). Studies show that this person will continue to live even though he apparently lacks the purpose in life. Besides, it is needless to state the important role genetic factors or someone’s immunity can play in ensuring his longer life (Friedman et al., 2016). One of the loopholes of the study is that it failed to analyze the cause of the death of the respondents over the last 14 years. In case, an individual has an accidental or illness related death, at a younger or older age, his death had nothing to do with having a purpose in life. Besides, the concerned research study makes the claim that if an individual has a sense of purpose in life, he will tend to live longer. However, this may not necessarily true, as it is possible that an individual whose purpose in life is to achieve great heights in professional world, may end up taking too much occupational stress that ultimately leads to his aliments, causing death. After all, cerebral attack is a major reason for the death of an individual, and it is most likely to affect an individual who fears not accomplishing any motive in life. Thus, the person may have a purpose in life, and yet may die, simply for being overambitious (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2014). These possible rival explanations though are not being explained by the researchers of the original research, the research states that the survey only proved a likely relation existing between the two variables. However, on the other hand, as far as the press release is concerned, it claims that there exists a very strong and proved relation between the two (Johnson & Marlow, 2014).

The authors of the original research as mentioned earlier have indeed stated the limitation of the result of the research. As mentioned by Hill and Turiano, the research was being conducted on the White people, and consequently it would be inappropriate to generalize the results without considering a major part of the population constituting other ethnic groups. The research overlooks the possibility of a relation existent between different cultural groups and their attitude towards having a purpose in life, since the White people are usually known to be individualistic that most of the other ethnic groups, and will tend to have a purpose in life. Besides, an important loophole of the study as accepted by the authors is that though it highlights the importance of having a purpose in life, it fails to offer a comprehensive definition of what that purpose should be (Mathers et al., 2015). An individual may have multiple purposes in life, and purposes of every kind, cannot be expected to have a positive impact on the life of an individual. Besides, although the researchers state that purpose is essential in determining longevity in life, the reason as to why it accounts for longer life, is not mentioned anywhere, which is highly disadvantageous (Samji et al., 2013). Although the limitations of the study are clearly explained in the original research, in the press release of the research paper, the author does not mention any of the limitations, and rather tried to establish a clear statement regarding the positive relation existing between the two variables (Milman et al., 2014).

The press release can be claimed to be partially biased towards the research article, as it tried to establish the point assumed by the research, and does not consider any of the limitations. As it has already being mentioned above, the research report has major loophole, that it fails to consider the cause of death of its respondents over the research years, and thus it cannot claim that each of the dying persons died simply for not having purpose in life. Death caused by diseases cannot be considered to be an example of a stress related death. The press release overlooks the limitations of the study, and establishes the probable statement of the research as the ultimate conclusion. 

Reference List:

De Bono, E. (2016). The happiness purpose. Random House.

Dolan, P. (2014). Happiness by design: Finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life. Penguin UK.

Friedman, H. S., & Kern, M. L. (2014). Personality, well-being, and health. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 719-742.

Friedman, H. S., Kern, M. L., Hampson, S. E., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). A new life-span approach to conscientiousness and health: combining the pieces of the causal puzzle. Developmental psychology, 50(5), 1377.

Hall, S., & Keohane, N. (2016). Preparing for later life; working longer and saving more.

Hill, P. L., & Turiano, N. A. (2014). Purpose in life as a predictor of mortality across adulthood. Psychological science, 25(7), 1482-1486.

Johnson, S., & Marlow, N. (2014, April). Growing up after extremely preterm birth: lifespan mental health outcomes. In Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine (Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 97-104). WB Saunders.

Leider, R. J. (2015). The power of purpose: Creating meaning in your life and work. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Mathers, C. D., Stevens, G. A., Boerma, T., White, R. A., & Tobias, M. I. (2015). Causes of international increases in older age life expectancy. The Lancet, 385(9967), 540-548.

Milman, S., Atzmon, G., Huffman, D. M., Wan, J., Crandall, J. P., Cohen, P., & Barzilai, N. (2014). Low insulin?like growth factor?1 level predicts survival in humans with exceptional longevity. Aging cell, 13(4), 769-771.

Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2014). Development through life: A psychosocial approach. Cengage Learning.

Nusslock, R., & Miller, G. E. (2016). Early-life adversity and physical and emotional health across the lifespan: a neuroimmune network hypothesis. Biological psychiatry, 80(1), 23-32.

Rogers, A., & Pilgrim, D. (2014). A sociology of mental health and illness. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Samji, H., Cescon, A., Hogg, R. S., Modur, S. P., Althoff, K. N., Buchacz, K., ... & Justice, A. (2013). Closing the gap: increases in life expectancy among treated HIV-positive individuals in the United States and Canada. PloS one, 8(12), e81355.

Gamesh, G. (2014). The Most Important Factor in Living Longer? A Sense of Purpose in Life.

Part 2:


It is highly important for any individual to have a sense of meaning and purpose in life. While the first article discuses how longevity in life is ensured by having a purpose in life, the second article here seeks to examine how the economic status of an individual is directly proportional to having a purpose in life. The article “Residents of Poor Nations Having a Greater Sense of Meaning in Life than Residents of Wealthy Nations”, is an important article that rightly states the relation existent between higher income and lesser sense of purpose, establishing lack of religious faith as the contributing factor to the same (Oishi & Diener, 2013).


The research explains that people living in wealthier nations often lose their sense of purpose, as they have a more individualistic approach towards life, and thus rely on the idea of carving their own destiny on their own without acknowledging the importance of any religious authority. However, when they are confronted with irreparable losses in life, which are left unanswered, they fail to seek proper solace (Kirmayer & Pederson, 2014). On the other hand, the residents of the poorer nations usually believe in the existence of a greater being, whose presence simply helps them to cure their pains, and feel content about life as it is (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014).

Implications of the Research:

The research report rightly states that in reality, it is not possible to derive a meaningful purpose in life, until one believes in religious truths and seeks spiritual solace. However, the residents of the wealthier nations are too much obsessed to make money and seek materialistic pursuits, and consequently due to lack of religious devotion, they suffer from spiritual dryness (Diener & Tay, 2015). However, they do not realize this unless confronted with a drastic incident that makes them question their very existence. It is at this point, that they realize the futility of their existence, and resort to suicides. However, the research proves that self-annihilation incidents are very rare in poor countries, as no matter how much despondent and depressed these people are, they can get answers from religious books, which acknowledge the presence of the omnipotent, omniscient being (Halfon et al., 2014).

Connections with the First Research:  

The first research article and the second one are closely interrelated. While the first article examines the role of purpose in life in determining the longevity of life of an individual, the second article explains which factor contributes to an individual’s sense of having a purpose in life. The first article clearly explains why an individual should strive to achieve a sense of purpose in life, without providing a means of attaining the same. On the other hand, the second article shows how restoration of religious faith and withdrawal from monetary obsession can help one develop a sense of meaning in life.

Future Direction:

In future, research studies can be conducted to ascertain what religious activities or religious books can exactly help a person find meaning in life and spiritually enrich him. Further, are each of these religious books is inherently different in its teachings, and the religious scriptures of the less developed countries state the importance of having patience and sacrifice in life, that prevents the incidents of self-annihilation.  

Reference List:

Diener, E., & Tay, L. (2015). Subjective well?being and human welfare around the world as reflected in the Gallup World Poll. International Journal of Psychology, 50(2), 135-149.

Halfon, N., Larson, K., Lu, M., Tullis, E., & Russ, S. (2014). Lifecourse health development: past, present and future. Maternal and child health journal, 18(2), 344-365.

Kirmayer, L. J., & Pedersen, D. (2014). Toward a new architecture for global mental health.

Oishi, S., & Diener, E. (2013). Residents of poor nations have a greater sense of meaning in life than residents of wealthy nations. Psychological Science, 0956797613507286.

Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction (pp. 279-298). Springer Netherlands.

Oishi, S., & Diener, E. (2013). Residents of poor nations have a greater sense of meaning in life than residents of wealthy nations. Psychological Science, 0956797613507286.

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