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Stability and specificity of meaning in life and life satisfaction over one year

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Abstract

Meaning in life and life satisfaction are both important variables in well-being research. Whereas an appreciable body of work suggests that life satisfaction is fairly stable over long periods of time, little research has investigated the stability of meaning in life ratings. In addition, it is unknown whether these highly correlated variables change independent of each other over time. Eighty-two participants (mean age = 19.3 years, SD 1.4; 76% female; 84% European-American) completed measures of the presence of meaning in life, the search for meaning in life, and life satisfaction an average of 13 months apart (SD = 2.3 months). Moderate stability was found for presence of meaning in life, search for meaning in life, and life satisfaction. Multiple regressions demonstrated specificity in predicting change among these measures. Support for validity and reliability of these variables is discussed.
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... Beyond its existential foundations from Viktor Frankl (1963), contemporary well-being research has presented meaning in life as a psychological construct that plays an influential role across the lifespan (Steger et al., 2009). Meaning in life is a relatively stable belief about one's life having mission and purpose (Steger & Kashdan, 2007). It has been associated with well-being and other positive psychological outcomes in different domains of functioning (Brassai et al., 2011). ...
... Having purpose in life leads to behavioral consistency, resilience, and psychological flexibility (McKnight & Kashdan, 2009). Meaning in life has been reported to have good short-term stability among undergraduate students over a period of 13 months (Steger & Kashdan, 2007). Daily ratings of meaning in life were also seen to be relatively stable. ...
... Previous research explained that sense of meaning can be a source of intrinsic motivation, driving a person to persevere (Bailey & Phillips, 2016). Meaning in life being a temporally stable construct can explain why individuals with greater sense of meaning can sustain their motivation despite difficult tasks life throws at them (Steger & Kashdan, 2007), leading to better academic outcomes (Yuen & Datu, 2021). ...
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... According to Caprara et al. [59], positive orientation is a common high-order factor that explains self-esteem, life satisfaction, and optimism. Since presence and searching for meaning correlate with self-esteem [60][61][62], life satisfaction [60,[63][64][65][66][67], and optimism 60,64,65,67], it can be assumed that meaning in life may be associated with positive orientation. ...
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Scientific achievements concerning the direct relation between personality traits and positive orientation among patients with multiple sclerosis do not explain the role of potential mediators. In fact, some researchers argue that the traits–positivity association is much more complex than it seems to be. For this reason, we made an attempt to analyze the indirect relationship between the above-mentioned variables, including meaning in life as a mediator. In total, 618 patients with MS took part in the study. The NEO Five-Factor Inventory, the Positive Orientation Scale, and the Meaning in Life Questionnaire were used. The results showed that positive orientation/the presence of meaning/searching for meaning correlated positively with extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, and were negatively associated with neuroticism. Moreover, meaning in life in both its dimensions acted as a mediator in 9 of 10 models. It can be assumed that a propensity to establish interpersonal relationships (extraversion), use active imagination (openness), inspire confidence among others (agreeableness), and take responsibility (conscientiousness) can have an impact on someone’s positive attitude toward oneself and the surrounding world (positive orientation) when people have meaning in life and when they are seeking it.
... As research has highlighted meaning to increase through external recognition of role importance, it is also possible that meaning (certainly that which is derived through work) may be negatively impacted by external factors also. In prior longitudinal analyses, meaning in life has been demonstrated to be reasonably stable at least within a 12 month period during relatively normal circumstances (Steger and Kashdan, 2007). However, the pandemic context may be causing frontline workers to lose this sense of meaning Sumner and Kinsella, 2021b). ...
... The changes in meaning in life over time are interesting to note for the context of understanding occupational stress and coping. Previous assessments of meaning in life over similar timescales to those herein indicate that both measures are reasonably stable (Steger and Kashdan, 2007) in "normal" conditions, so it is of concern that we have observed presence of meaning in life decline for these essential workers. In related work that has assessed meaningful work, a meta-analysis has found that this is associated with a broad array of occupational and personal factors such as job satisfaction, work performance, organisational withdrawal intentions, and general health and affect (Allan et al., 2019). ...
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... KiĢinin deneyimlerini anlamlı ve değerli bulması refah düzeylerini arttırmaktadır (Huta, 2017). Yapılan araĢtırmalar anlamlı bir yaĢam süren kiĢilerin yaĢamlarında daha mutlu oldukları (Cohen ve Cairns, 2012) ve yaĢamlarından daha fazla tatmin olduklarını ortaya koymuĢtur (Steger ve Kashdan, 2006). Anlamlılığın genel olarak mutluluğu arttırdığı bilinmekle birlikte, anlam duygusunu yaratan kaynakların mutluluk üzerindeki etkisinin ayrı ayrı ele alınması önem arz etmektedir. ...
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... Responses were reported on a 7-point scale (1 = absolutely untrue, 7 = absolutely true). Questions from the Meaning in Life Questionnaire have demonstrated reasonable levels of reliability over time (Steger & Kashdan, 2007). ...
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... KiĢinin deneyimlerini anlamlı ve değerli bulması refah düzeylerini arttırmaktadır (Huta, 2017). Yapılan araĢtırmalar anlamlı bir yaĢam süren kiĢilerin yaĢamlarında daha mutlu oldukları (Cohen ve Cairns, 2012) ve yaĢamlarından daha fazla tatmin olduklarını ortaya koymuĢtur (Steger ve Kashdan, 2006). Anlamlılığın genel olarak mutluluğu arttırdığı bilinmekle birlikte, anlam duygusunu yaratan kaynakların mutluluk üzerindeki etkisinin ayrı ayrı ele alınması önem arz etmektedir. ...
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... Notably, purpose in life, dispositional gratitude, and conscientiousness tend to be stable, trait-like factors (Allemand et al., 2021;Steger and Kashdan, 2007). However, research suggests that they are amenable to modification (Emmons and Stern, 2013;Javaras et al., 2019;Lapierre et al., 2007), and may therefore reflect potential targets of interventions to promote remission from STBs. ...
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