the meaning of life

for kids in l.a.

this study found that, of european-american (i.e. white), latino and asian high school students in los angeles, latinos feel the most strongly that they have meaning in life, followed by asians and then white kids. and asian teens are the ones most in search of a meaning to their lives, while latinos and white kids don’t bother so much.

the latino kids presumably don’t bother looking for a meaning to their lives ’cause they already got one. but, the white kids don’t really have much meaning in their lives AND they ain’t lookin’ for it, either. slackers.

you’ll never guess it, but one of the things that gives teens (and prolly adults, too) LOTS of meaning to their lives is ethnic identiy, i.e. how close they feel to their ethnic group:

“[P]resence of meaning was significantly correlated with both dimensions of ethnic identity such that those who felt more positively about their ethnic group and those who reported greater ethnic exploration reported higher levels of meaning. Notably, ethnic identity was not significantly associated with search for meaning…. [E]thnic belonging was significantly associated with all indicators of adjustment. Associations were in expected directions such that a stronger sense of connectedness and affiliation with one’s ethnic group was related to higher self-esteem, higher attitudes toward the utility and value of education, higher intrinsic motivation, higher average levels of daily happiness, and lower daily distress.”

to repeat: a stronger sense of connectedness and affiliation with one’s ethnic group was related to higher self-esteem, higher attitudes toward the utility and value of education, higher intrinsic motivation, higher average levels of daily happiness, and lower daily distress.

but, of course, white folks ain’t ‘sposed to identify with their group anymore. gee — i wonder why white teens don’t really feel that they have any meaning to their lives? — and aren’t even bothering to look for any meaning!

“Although prior work has consistently documented positive links between ethnic identity and adjustment, it has yet to be entirely clear why ethnic identity has such a beneficial effect. Indeed, an important task for contemporary research is to identify the precise mechanisms by which ethnic identity has such a positive impact on development.”

yup! it’s just a COMPLETE and utter mystery why feeling close to one’s extended family would make a person feel good about life. strange, that!


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