Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1163–1184 | Cite as

Purpose-Driven Life: Life Goals as a Predictor of Quality of Life and Psychological Health

  • Esther Yuet Ying Lau
  • Sing-Hang Cheung
  • Jasmine Lam
  • C. Harry Hui
  • Shu-Fai Cheung
  • Doris Shui Ying Mok
Research Paper


On the basis of self-determination theory, we predicted that the pursuit of material goals might negatively affect quality of life and psychological outcomes including sleep quality and mood states. We further hypothesized that the link between religious affiliation and these outcome variables could be explained, at least partially, by life goals. Longitudinal data collected from 700 Chinese adults demonstrated that for both Christians and non-believers, material goals had a detrimental effect on outcome variables measured 6 months later. More importantly, material goals partially mediated the effects of religious affiliation. That is, Christians were different from non-believers on the outcome variables partly because the former did not go after material goals. For these believers, moreover, the pursuit of religion-based goals brought psychological benefits. Not only can certain life goals explain why people with religious faiths have better psychological health and quality of life, they can also explain why not every religious person feels good and is content about their lives.


Life goals Quality of life Sleep quality Mood Religiosity 



We are grateful to Clark Campbell, Max Hui-Bon-Hoa, the two anonymous reviewers, and the editor for helpful suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esther Yuet Ying Lau
    • 1
  • Sing-Hang Cheung
    • 1
  • Jasmine Lam
    • 1
  • C. Harry Hui
    • 1
  • Shu-Fai Cheung
    • 2
  • Doris Shui Ying Mok
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MacauTaipaMacau

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