Laura A King

Laura A King
University of Missouri | Mizzou · Department of Psychological Sciences

Ph.D., University of California, Davis

About

141
Publications
194,154
Reads
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17,376
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2001 - present
University of Missouri
Position
  • Curators' Professor
August 1991 - May 2001
Southern Methodist University
Position
  • Assistant to Associate Professor

Publications

Publications (141)
Article
Full-text available
The desire for meaning is recognized as a central human motive. Yet, knowing that people want meaning does not explain its function. What adaptive problem does this experience solve? Drawing on the feelings-as-information hypothesis (Schwarz & Clore, 1983), we propose that the feeling of meaning provides information about the presence of reliable p...
Article
Full-text available
The human experience of meaning in life is widely viewed as a cornerstone of well-being and a central human motivation. Self-reports of meaning in life relate to a host of important functional outcomes. Psychologists have portrayed meaning in life as simultaneously chronically lacking in human life as well as playing an important role in survival....
Article
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The experience of meaning is often conceptualized as involving reliable pattern or coherence. However, research has not addressed whether exposure to pattern or coherence influences the phenomenological experience of meaning in life. Four studies tested the prediction that exposure to objective coherence (vs. incoherence) would lead to higher repor...
Article
Meaning in life (MIL) has been proposed to improve coping and resilience. Yet MIL’s association with coping has primarily been investigated in the context of extreme stressors and trauma, often using varied measures of MIL. Is MIL associated with varied coping strategies, coping self-efficacy, and distress in relation to commonly experienced, every...
Article
Full-text available
The problem of inequality presents an important opportunity for positive psychology. We review the many ways that marginalization (including stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination) affects the well-being of minoritized people and suggest that positive psychologists turn their attention to the ways their research interests can be harnessed to re...
Article
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The problem of inequality presents an important opportunity for positive psychology. We review the many ways that marginalization (including stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination) affects the well-being of minoritized people and suggest that positive psychologists turn their attention to the ways their research interests can be harnessed to re...
Article
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During the 2020 U.S. Presidential primary season, we measured candidate support and cognitive and interpersonal variables associated with political ideology among 831 U.S. participants. Cognitive style variables included openness to experience, active open-minded thinking, dogmatism, and preference for one right answer. Interpersonal variables were...
Article
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Five studies tested the effect of exposure to authoritarian values on positive affect (PA), negative affect (NA), and meaning in life (MIL). Study 1 ( N = 1,053) showed that simply completing a measure of right-wing authoritarianism (vs. not) prior to rating MIL led to higher MIL. Preregistered Study 2 ( N = 1,904) showed that reading speeches by r...
Article
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Objective Two studies examined the relationship between right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and religious fundamentalism (RF), and tested their unique contributions to meaning in life (MIL). Method We recruited Amazon Mechanical Turk Participants located in the United States. Studies 1 (N=827) included measures of RWA, RF, and global MIL. Study 2 (N...
Article
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Although often thought of as an outcome of life experiences, well‐being is a relatively stable individual difference. One explanation for this stability is personality. Personality traits are strongly associated with well‐being. Moreover, these associations persist even controlling for the behaviors and life experiences that are fostered by persona...
Article
Full-text available
Although often thought of as an outcome of life experiences, well‐being is a relatively stable individual difference. One explanation for this stability is personality. Personality traits are strongly associated with well‐being. Moreover, these associations persist even controlling for the behaviors and life experiences that are fostered by persona...
Article
We examined how lay beliefs about meaning in life relate to experiences of personal meaning. In Study 1 (N=406) meaning in life was perceived to be a common experience, but one that requires effort to attain, and these beliefs related to levels of meaning in life. Participants viewed their own lives as more meaningful than the average person’s, and...
Article
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Three studies addressed two research questions. First, does accounting for meaning in life (MIL) wipe out the association between narcissism and other aspects of well-being? Second, among the three facets of MIL (significance, purpose, and coherence), does significance explain the association between narcissism and MIL? All studies measured narciss...
Article
Four studies explored gender differences in magical beliefs, specifically examining whether reliance on intuition accounts for women’s higher magical beliefs (vs. men’s). In Studies 1a and 1b (N’s= 489, 1119), women’s higher magical beliefs were accounted for by measures of reliance on intuition. Study 2 (N=533) demonstrated that an intuition induc...
Article
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Existing trait mindfulness scales primarily assess mindfulness as it occurs outside interpersonal contexts. To more fully understand the possible relational benefits of mindfulness, the authors propose the construct of interpersonal mindfulness—mindfulness as it occurs during interpersonal interactions. The current work describes psychometric devel...
Article
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Objective Four studies tested the existential and existential buffering functions of right‐wing authoritarianism (RWA). We tested whether facets of meaning mediated these functions. Method All studies measured RWA and meaning in life (MIL). Study 1, N=2,319, also measured covariates, including Protestant Work Ethic, and religiosity. Study 2, N=505...
Article
Previous research links the experience of meaning in life (MIL) with environmental structure and the coherence of external stimuli. The current studies directly test the association between one source of structure in everyday life—routines—and MIL. First, Study 1 (N = 317) found a positive relationship between trait preference for routine and MIL....
Article
Full-text available
Two studies examined whether the well-documented link between authenticity and well-being is moderated by the Dark Tetrad (Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, and sadism). We predicted that among those high on these traits, authenticity would be less strongly associated with well-being. Study 1 (N=404) and Study 2 (N=415) showed that authent...
Article
Often, the high moral self-image held by religious people is viewed with skepticism. Three studies examined the contributions of socially desirable responding (SDR), personality traits, prosocial behavior, and individual differences in prosocial tendencies to the association between religiosity and moral self-image. In Studies 1 and 2 (N's = 346, 5...
Article
The association between religiosity and morality identified in self-reports has received limited support from studies of actual behavior. We propose that religiosity variables are likely to contribute to moral behavior in the context of moral self-regulation. Five studies examined the prediction that people who strongly endorse the items “I try har...
Article
Full-text available
In three convenience samples (combined N = 3,755) and one nationally representative survey (N = 1,500), we investigated whether and how right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO) were associated with support for Donald Trump during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In all samples, facets of RWA and SDO predicted sup...
Article
Why do men view morally questionable behaviors as more permissible than women do? Five studies investigated emotional factors as explanations for gender differences in moral decision-making. In Study 1 (N = 324), gender differences in perceptions of moral wrongness were explained by guilt and shame proneness. Studies 2a and 2b (combined N = 562) de...
Article
Full-text available
Ego level is a broad construct that summarizes individual differences in personality development1. We examine ego level as it is represented in natural language, using a composite sample of four datasets comprising nearly 44,000 responses. We find support for a developmental sequence in the structure of correlations between ego levels, in analyses...
Article
Two studies examined the association between income and meaning in life (MIL). Study 1 (N = 781) demonstrated that income and other measures of financial status are positively associated with MIL and other aspects of well-being. The association between income and MIL was partially explained by autonomy, competence, and perceptions of control. Study...
Chapter
Meaning in life is an important contributor to psychological and physical health. In this chapter, we consider how this aspect of well-being relates to constructs within social psychology and social cognition that describe people’s attempts to make sense of their existence and social environment. We first review the relationship between the experie...
Article
The notion that intuition guides moral judgment is widely accepted. Yet, there is a dearth of research examining whether individual differences in reliance on intuition influence moral judgment. Five studies provided evidence that faith in intuition (FI) predicts higher condemnation of moral transgressions. Studies 1 and 2 (combined N = 543) demons...
Article
Many people expect their work to provide meaning to their lives, yet the specific organizational factors that can promote meaning in life are not clearly delineated. Drawing on the basic science of meaning in life, in this paper we propose that work entails a host of experiences that foster meaning in life. We begin by defining meaning in life, not...
Chapter
Although originally eudaimonia was intended to be viewed as a philosophy or life or code of conduct, it is now widely treated as a type of well-being that is distinct and superior to happiness or life satisfaction. In this chapter, we argue that the conceptual and theoretical distinction between eudaimonic and hedonic well-being is both misguided a...
Article
Recent advances in the science of meaning in life have taught us a great deal about the nature of the experience of meaning in life, its antecedents and consequences, and its potential functions. Conclusions based on self-report measures of meaning in life indicate that, as might be expected, it is associated with many aspects of positive functioni...
Chapter
Conceptually defining meaning and meaning in life has proven to be difficult. We suggest that this difficulty reveals an important fact about meaning. Meaning is, at least in part, the result of processes that are not available to awareness except as vague, intuitive gut feelings. We present evidence that common features of meaning are the product...
Article
Three studies demonstrate that income is positively associated with meaning in life (MIL) and that this relationship is moderated by positive affect (PA). Moreover, people’s forecasts about these associations resemble the actual data. Study 1 (N = 1,666) used a nationally representative sample to demonstrate that PA moderates the effect of income o...
Article
Despite the widespread recognition that intuitive processing is integral to moral judgment, research has provided minimal support for the role of individual differences in faith in intuition (FI) in moral outcomes. We propose that reliance on intuitive processing is likely to influence moral behavior when people experience internally generated mora...
Article
Three correlational studies and one experiment examined self-verification versus self-enhancement in a posthumous context. In Study 1, in two samples (combined N = 3029) modal responses suggest a desire to be remembered as one really is, far into the future. Studies 2 (N = 92) and 3 (N = 414) showed that posthumous self-verification was independent...
Article
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Replies to the comments made by Friedman (see record 2015-39598-012), Jeffery & Shackelford (see record 2015-39598-013), Brown & Wong (see record 2015-39598-014), Fowers & Lefevor (see record 2015-39598-015), Hill et al. (see record 2015-39598-016) on the current authors' original article, "Life is pretty meaningful," (see record 2014-03265-001). T...
Article
Three correlational studies and 2 experiments examined the association between meaning in life (MIL) and reliance on intuitive information processing. In Studies 1-3 (total N = 5,079), Faith in Intuition (FI) scale and MIL were correlated positively, controlling for religiosity, positive mood, self-esteem, basic need satisfaction, and need for cogn...
Chapter
This chapter explores the role of goals, life dreams, or possible selves that are disrupted by life experiences in personality development. We first compare and contrast the concepts of posttraumatic growth and personality development (from a trait perspective), suggesting that these approaches offer complementary evidence about the potential role...
Article
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Two studies examined the interaction of individual differences in intuitive processing style and induced positive affect in implicit pattern recognition in undergraduates. In Study 1 (N = 187), induced mood and intuition interacted to predict accuracy in pattern recognition using an implicit learning paradigm. Participants high in intuition in a po...
Article
Full-text available
Growing popular interest in positive psychology may have important implications for the measurement of well-being. Five studies tested the prediction that well-being ratings are influenced by desirability bias. In Study 1, participants (N = 176) instructed to fake good endorsed higher well-being; those instructed to fake bad endorsed lower well-bei...
Article
Full-text available
The desire for meaning is recognized as a central human motive. Yet, knowing that people want meaning does not explain its function. What adaptive problem does this experience solve? Drawing on the feelings-as-information hypothesis, we propose that the feeling of meaning provides information about the presence of reliable patterns and coherence in...
Article
Full-text available
Conceptually defining meaning and meaning in life has proven to be difficult. We suggest that this difficulty reveals an important fact about meaning. Meaning is, at least in part, the result of processes that are not available to awareness except as vague, intuitive gut feelings. We present evidence that common features of meaning are the product...
Article
Individual differences are often incorporated into experimental research to elucidate inconsistent effects. We argue that the inclusion of such differences into established and seemingly straightforward findings is imperative to the goal of reaching a more complete understanding about the processes of interest. Drawing on research on the cognitive...
Chapter
In this chapter, we seek to deepen our understanding of the felt presence of meaning by exploring its origins. Drawing on Gibson's ecological approach to perception, we will argue that the experience of meaning has, at its foundation, the encounter between a lawful physical world and unconscious primitive mechanisms that are capable of detecting th...
Article
This study examined whether individual differences in Faith in Intuition (FI) moderate the effect of PA on gender stereotyping. Participants (N = 89) completed a measure of individual differences in FI and were randomly assigned in a 2 (mood, positive or neutral) × 2 (target sex, male or female) factorial design. After reading a description of a co...
Data
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This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the cont...
Article
Although I largely agree with the proposals in the target article, I note that many of these suggestions echo past calls for changes in the field that have fallen on deaf ears. I present two examples that suggest some modest changes are underway. Finally, I suggest that one reason for the alarmingly high productivity in the field is that the resear...
Article
Previous research demonstrates that thinking counterfactually about life experiences facilitates meaning making about those events. Two studies extend this work into the well-being domain by examining the effects of writing factually or counterfactually about one’s birth on well-being. In Study 1, participants (N = 252) were randomly assigned to wr...
Article
Much of the field psychology is occupied with the question of how to help human beings lead better lives. Researchers and practitioners have become increasingly interested in promoting lives that could be broadly defined as "good"--lives that are exemplary in a variety of ways--in terms of fulfillment, moral character, physical health, success, or...
Article
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Two studies investigated the effects of being forgotten on the target of memory. In Study 1, undergraduate women (N = 96) who had completed a lab session two days prior, were randomly assigned to be remembered, forgotten, complimented, or to a control group. In the absence of effects on mood or social self-esteem, being forgotten resulted in lower...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Research has shown that individuals who describe themselves as highly intuitive (i.e., likely to trust their hunches or gut feelings in decision-making) react to stimuli as a function of positive mood. For instance, when they are in a good mood, intuitive individuals say they understand a variety of ambiguous stimuli and show superior performance o...
Article
Full-text available
Four studies tested the prediction that positive affect (PA) would relate more strongly to meaning in life (MIL) as a function of perceived time limitations. In Study 1 (N = 360), adults completed measures of PA and MIL. As predicted, PA related more strongly to MIL for older, compared to younger, participants. In Studies 2 and 3, adults (N = 514)...
Article
Research suggests that repeated subliminal exposure to environmental stimuli enhances positive affective responses. To date, this research has primarily concentrated on the effects of repeated exposure on explicit measures of positive affect (PA). However, recent research suggests that repeated subliminal presentations may increase implicit PA as w...
Article
Full-text available
The essence of who a person really is has been labeled the "true self," and an emerging area of research suggests that this self-concept plays an important role in the creation of a fulfilling existence. Three studies investigate the role of the subjective feeling that one possesses knowledge of one's true self in meaning in life judgments. Consist...
Chapter
Full-text available
At the heart of social progress is the human capacity to notice a discrepancy between how things are and how they might be. Certainly, such progress requires more than simply this realization. It requires the belief that change is possible and right. It requires social cooperation and work by groups for the common good. But these activities would n...
Chapter
Now, from this peculiar sideway position of the whale's eyes, it is plain that he can never see an object which is exactly ahead, no more than he can one exactly astern.... This peculiarity of the whale's eyes is a thing always to be borne in mind in the fishery; and to be remembered by the reader.
Article
Full-text available
As with other measures of subjective well-being, self-reports of meaning in life (MIL) can be influenced by transient, contextual factors. Further, the sources of information used in judging MIL can vary depending on their relevance and cognitive accessibility. This study examined the effects of differing instructions on the sources of information...
Article
Drawing on terror management theory (TMT), we discuss the psychological motivations that shape personality at two levels: the characteristically human personality common to us all and the individual differences that distinguish some people from others. TMT posits that the motivation to protect the self against deep-rooted fears about mortality driv...
Article
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Four studies examined social relatedness and positive affect (PA) as alternate sources of information for judgments of meaning in life (MIL). In Studies 1 through 3 (total N = 282), priming loneliness increased reliance on PA and decreased reliance on social functioning in MIL judgments. In Study 4 (N = 138), daily assessments of PA, relatedness ne...
Article
Full-text available
Subjective rationality, or the feeling of meaning, was identified by William James (1893) as a central aspect of the non-sensory fringe of consciousness. Three studies examined the interaction of positive affect (PA) and individual differences in intuitive information processing in predicting feelings of meaning for various stimuli and life events....
Article
I am honored to have the opportunity to greet you as the new editor of JPSP: PPID. I am also excited to introduce the dynamic scholars who have agreed to lend their considerable gifts as associate editors, Jack Bauer, Wendy Berry Mendes, Veronica Benet-Martinez, Edward Chang, Cecelia Cheng, and William Fleeson, as well as those who have agreed to s...
Article
Meaning in life is widely considered a cornerstone of human functioning, but relatively little is known about the factors that influence judgments of meaning in life. Four studies examined positive affect (PA) and social relatedness as sources of information for meaning in life judgments. Study 1 (N = 150) showed that relatedness need satisfaction...
Article
That the scarcity of objects enhances their value is a widely known principle in the behavioral sciences. In addition, research has demonstrated that attaching high value to an object produces biased perceptions of its scarcity. Three studies applied this bidirectional link between scarcity and value to the meaning of death, testing the prediction...
Article
Full-text available
This study tested the potential to elicit a broadened attentional focus through writing about a positive life experience and to derive health benefits from such writing. Participants (n = 38) wrote for 20 min each day for 3 consecutive days about either a positive life experience or a control topic. Writing about positive experiences led to improve...
Article
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Three studies examined the meaning ascribed to events varying in intensity and valence and how meaning detection and construction relate to the experience of meaning in life events. In Study 1, participants were more likely to expect meaning to emerge from major life events particularly if they are negative, while trivial events were expected to be...
Article
Meaning in life has long been recognized as a central dilemma of human life. In this article, we review some of the challenges of studying meaning in life from the perspective of social psychology. We draw on the diary of Etty Hillesum, a young woman who was killed in Auschwitz, to argue for the relevance of current empirical approaches to meaning...
Article
This study tested the prediction that individual differences in intuition would interact with positive affect (PA) to predict referential thinking, in a nonclinical sample. Participants (N = 146) completed questionnaires measuring PA, intuition, referential thinking, personality traits, depression, anxiety, and meaning in life. Controlling for anxi...
Article
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In an earlier paper (Kashdan, Biswas-Diener, & King, 2008), we outlined a critique of the distinction being made between eudaimonic and hedonic forms of happiness. That paper seems to have had the desired effect in stimulating discourse on this important subject as evidenced by a number of responses from our colleagues. In this paper, we address th...
Article
Full-text available
A number of philosophical and psychological theories suggest the true self is an important contributor to well-being. The present research examined whether the cognitive accessibility of the true self-concept would predict the experience of meaning in life. To ensure that any observed effects were due to the true self-concept rather than to the sel...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, well-being researchers have distinguished between eudaimonic happiness (e.g., meaning and purpose; taking part in activities that allow for the actualization of one's skills, talents, and potential) and hedonic happiness (e.g., high frequencies of positive affect, low frequencies of negative affect, and evaluating life as satisfyin...
Article
This study tested the lower boundary of the dosage required to garner health benefits from written emotional expression. Participants wrote about either a personal trauma, a positive life experience, or a control topic for 2 minutes each day for 2 days. Emotion word usage in the essays was examined and physical health complaints were measured 4-6 w...
Article
Two studies examined the role of religious commitment in moderating the relationship between positive affect (PA) and meaning in life. In Study 1, Sample 1, religiosity was found to moderate the relationship between naturally occurring PA and meaning in life, showing that high levels of religiosity attenuated the effects of PA on meaning in life. I...
Article
Those who have been fortunate enough to hear Ed Diener give a talk have probably heard an anecdote about the first time he informed a former graduate advisor of his interest in studying subjective well-being. An established researcher in the social psychology of deindividuation, aggression, and the like, Ed was looking for a new, more positive hori...
Article
Full-text available
Research has demonstrated that there is a strong relationship between positive affect (PA) and meaning in life. It has been suggested that this relationship may exist, in part, because PA facilitates a global cognitive focus, allowing a person to see “the big picture” of his or her life. Although it is possible global focus mediates the relationshi...
Article
Although lost opportunities and mistaken expectations are unpleasant to think and talk about, these experiences may have a role to play in personality development. Drawing on research using narratives of lost possible selves, the authors review the relations of regrettable experiences to 2 important and independent aspects of maturity, happiness an...
Article
How do the goals we once cherished but can no longer pursue relate to maturity?
Article
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Three studies examined the potential interactions of the experiential system and positive affect (PA) in predicting superstitious beliefs and sympathetic magic. In Study 1, experientiality and induced positive mood interacted to predict the emergence of belief in videos purporting to show unidentified flying objects or ghosts. In Study 2, naturally...
Article
We assessed implicit orientations towards power versus intimacy using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the Implicit Associations Test (IAT). In addition, we assessed explicit orientations using self-report measures of dominance versus nurturance motives and extrinsic versus intrinsic values. Further, we assessed the rated self-concordance a...
Article
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In this article, we review research on narrative possible selves as correlates and predictors of well-being and ego development in individuals who have experienced important life transitions. This research has shown that positive well-being is best predicted by investment in current life goals and a divestment of interest in "lost goals." In contra...
Article
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Six studies examined the role of positive affect (PA) in the experience of meaning in life (MIL). Study 1 showed strong relations between measures of mood, goal appraisals, and MIL. In multivariate analyses, PA was a stronger predictor of MIL than goal appraisals. In Study 2, the most consistent predictor of the experience of meaning in a day was t...
Article
Full-text available
Numerous studies show that happy individuals are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health. The authors suggest a conceptual model to account for these findings, arguing that the happiness-success link exists not only because success makes people happy, but also because positive af...