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A pilot study is presented using a photographic method for participants to explore where meaning in their lives comes from. Eighty-six university students were instructed to take 9-12 photographs of "things that make your life feel meaningful." One week later, participants returned, viewed, and described their photographs. Significant within-person improvements in levels of meaning in life, life satisfaction, and positive affect were observed following the intervention. •Meaning in life is important to clinical populations and therapeutic practices.•Participants took photographs of "things that make your life feel meaningful."•Meaning, life satisfaction, and positive affect increased following intervention.
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Through the windows of the soul: A pilot study using photography
to enhance meaning in life
Michael F. Steger
, Yerin Shim
, Jennifer Barenz
, Joo Yeon Shin
Colorado State University, USA
North-West University, South Africa
article info
Article history:
Received 1 February 2013
Received in revised form
13 September 2013
Accepted 8 November 2013
Meaning in life
Purpose in life
Positive psychology intervention
A pilot study is presented using a photographic method for participants to explore where meaning in
their lives comes from. Eighty-six university students were instructed to take 912 photographs of
things that make your life feel meaningful.One week later, participants returned, viewed, and
described their photographs. Signicant within-person improvements in levels of meaning in life, life
satisfaction, and positive affect were observed following the intervention.
&2013 Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.
1. Introduction
One of the central goals of psychotherapeutic approaches such
as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is to help clients
live more authentically, in touch with and acting according to their
identity and values (e.g., Hayes & Strohsal, 2010). ACT provides
practitioners with a range of tools to facilitate self-understanding,
values clarity, and purposeful activity (e.g., Luoma, Hayes, &
Walser, 2007). In the present report, we describe results from a
pilot study for a novel intervention that pursues similar aims by
targeting meaning in life.
Among therapeutic modalities, ACT provides a natural context
for exploring and utilizing meaning in life for clinical improvement
(Steger, Sheline, Merriman, & Kashdan, 2013). Meaning in life has
been dened as the sense people make of their existence and the
overarching life purposes they pursue (e.g., Steger, 2009). Meaning
in life theory emphasizes helping people discover what truly
matters to them and exibly pursue their life aims and aspirations
(e.g., Kashdan & McKnight, 2009;King, Hicks, Krull, & Del Gaiso,
2006;Park & Folkman, 1997;Steger, 2009,2012). For these
reasons, psychologists long have argued that meaning in life is a
critical component of human well-being (e.g., Ryff, 1989). Accord-
ingly, research has established links between meaning in life and
better functioning in nearly every domain of life (for review, see
Steger, 2009,2012). A small but growing research literature has
demonstrated the relevance of meaning in life to clinical phenom-
ena, including lower levels of psychopathology and better
response to therapy (Debats, 1996), lower levels of fear, anxiety
and depression (Steger, Mann, Michels, & Cooper, 2009;Steger &
Kashdan, 2009) and less suicidal ideation (Harlow, Newcomb, &
Bentler, 1986), as well as posttraumatic stress and experiential
avoidance (Kashdan, Kane, & Kecmanovic, 2011). Additionally,
research has suggested that people are able to draw on their sense
of life's meaning to help them cope with traumatic life events
(Triplett, Tedeschi, Cann, Calhoun, & Reeve, 2012).
Unfortunately, little research attention has been paid to the
question of how to cultivate meaning, particularly in clinical
contexts. Some meaning-cultivation programs have been
described in the literature: Meaning-Centered Group Psychother-
apy (MCGP; Greenstein & Breitbart, 2000), the Meaning-Making
intervention (MMi; Lee, Cohen, Edgar, Laizner, & Gagnon, 2006)
and meaning-centered counseling and therapy (MCCT; Wong,
1999). These efforts seek to help people nd meaning through
understanding what is important to them and mobilize meaning
as a coping resource. Although encouraging results have been
reported for the MMi (Lee et al., 2006), data on other interventions
is scarce.
We sought to develop a simple intervention that could be
incorporated into therapeutic approaches like ACT and would
enable people to intuitively explore meaning in their lives. This
intervention draws on a method called auto-photography, which is
a visual research method widely used in ethnographic eld
research that aims to see the world through someone else's eyes
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
journal homepage:
Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science
2212-1447/$ - see front matter &2013 Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.
Corresponding author at: Department of Psychology, Colorado State University,
Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA. Tel.: þ1 197 491 7324.
E-mail address: (M.F. Steger).
Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science 3 (2014) 2730
(Thomas, 2009, p. 244). This method allows participants to clearly
represent their own perspectives, and has been widely used in self
and identity research (Dollinger & Clancy, 1993;Noland, 2006;
Ziller & Lewis, 1981). In this report, we describe a pilot study using
an adaptation of autophotography to enhance meaning.
2. Method
2.1. Participants
Eighty-six psychology major undergraduate students were
recruited from a research pool at a large, Western university in the
United States. A qualitative report using this sample has been
published previously, though there is no overlap with the data
reported here (Steger, Shim, Brueske, Rush, Shin, & Merriman,
2013). One participant did not complete Time 2 activities, leaving
85 total participants (age M¼19.3 year s ; SD¼1.9 years; 73.8% female,
and 83.3% EuropeanAmerican).
2.2. Procedure
Participants completed a battery of questionnaires (Global
Questionnaire) at Time 1 and were given a Kodak digital camera
with 8.2 megapixel resolution. They were instructed to take
photographs of things that make your life feel meaningful.The
camera's built-in memory set a limit of 912 photographs. One
week later, at Time 2, photos were downloaded from the camera
and participants completed a brief survey (State Survey). Partici-
pants were then asked to write a response to the prompt What
does this photo represent, and why is it meaningful?. Finally,
they completed duplicate forms of the State Survey and Global
2.3. Measures
2.3.1. Global Questionnaire
The Global Questionnaire consisted of four widely-used and
psychometrically sound instruments used to examine change in
meaning in life, life satisfaction, and symptoms of depression,
anxiety and stress. Scores from the Global Questionnaire showed
good reliability (Table 1). Meaning in life. The Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ;
Steger, Frazier, Oishi, & Kaler, 2006) consists of two 5-item
subscales measuring the Presence of Meaning (MLQ-P) and the
Search for Meaning (MLQ-S), with items rated from 1 (absolutely
untrue)to7(absolutely true). Life satisfaction. The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS;
Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Grifn, 1985) is a 5-item scale, with
items rated from 1 (strongly disagree)to7(strongly agree). Psychological distress. The Depression Anxiety and Stress
Scale (DASS-21; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) consists of three
subscalesdepression, anxiety, and stresseach assessed using
7 items rated from 0 (did not apply to me at all)to3(applied to me
very much, or most of the time). For this study, one item in the
depression subscale that measures meaning in life was deleted to
reduce the chances that the intervention would falsely inuence
depression because of that item.
2.3.2. State Survey
To measure state levels of meaning in life, life satisfaction, and
positive and negative affect, the State Survey was created based on
items from the MLQ, the SWLS, and a popular measure of positive
and negative affect (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). MLQ items
were supplemented with items drawn from meaning in life theory
(Steger, 2009), intended to assess comprehension and purpose.
Each item presented with a unique rating scale with 100 dots, with
a vertical slash after every 10 dots. Participants were asked to put
an X on the scale where it best reected how they felt at this
momentscale of 0 (not at all [_____], or no [_____] at all) to 100
(as [_____] as anyone could ever be, complete and total [_____], or
absolutely [_____]). Scores from the State Survey had good relia-
bility (Table 2). Positive affect and negative affect. State positive affect was
measured using ve adjective: happy, strong, excited, enthusiastic,
and relaxed drawn from an existing measure (Watson et al., 1988).
State negative affect was measured using seven items: sad,
nervous, distressed, irritable, guilty, afraid, and stressed. Meaning in life. State presence of meaning in life was
measured using ve items, three of which assessed the
comprehension component of meaning in life (e.g., Steger,
2009): I understand myself,”“I understand the world around
me,and I understand how I t in the world.One item was
assessed purpose (I have a mission or purpose in my life) and
Table 1
Correlations among Time 1 and Time 2 measures from the Global Questionnaire.
1 MLQ-P 0.86
2 MLQ-S 0.12 0.85
3 SWLS 0.38
0.18 0.86
4 DASS-D 0.37
0.16 0.54
5 DASS-A 0.30
0.10 0.33
6 DASS-S 0.34
0.15 0.39
7 T2MLQ-P 0.50
0.00 0.30
8 T2MLQ-S 0.18 0.64
0.05 0.09 0.06 0.07 0.27
9 T2SWLS 0.44
0.15 0.74
0.16 0.43
0.13 0.85
10 T2DASS-D 0.29
0.18 0.43
0.12 0.54
11 T2DASS-A 0.10 0.19 0.38
0.15 0.16 0.25
12 T2DASS-S 0.21 0.02 0.32
0.14 0.46
N¼84 Note: alpha coefcients presented in diagonal. MLQ-P¼Meaning in Life Questionnaire-Presence subscale, MLQ-S ¼Meaning in Life Questionnaire-Search subscale,
SWLS¼Satisfaction with Life Scale, DASS-D ¼Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale-Depression subscale, DASS-A ¼Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale-Anxiety subscale, and
DASS-S¼Depression Anxiety and Stress Scalestress subscale.
M.F. Steger et al. / Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science 3 (2014) 273028
one assessed general meaning (My life feels meaningful). State
search for meaning in life was measured using two items: Iam
searching for meaning in my lifeand I am looking for my life's
purpose. Life satisfaction. State life satisfaction was measured using
two SWLS items: I am satised with my lifeand In most ways
my life is close to the ideal.
3. Results
For the Global Questionnaire well-being measures positively inter-
correlated and showing negative correlations with the DASS subscales
(Table 1). Interestingly, Time 1 search for meaning signicantly,
negatively predict Time 2 presence of meaning. For the State Survey,
well-being measures also were positively intercorrelated (Table 2).
3.1. Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance
3.1.1. Global Questionnaire
Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) were con-
ducted to assess the intervention's impact. Small to moderate
increases were observed for presence of meaning and life satisfac-
tion, with a marginally signicant trend toward a signicant
decrease in search for meaning (Table 3).
3.1.2. State Survey
Similarly, paired samples t-tests were conducted to determine
the in-the-moment impact of viewing and describing photographs
that support meaning in life. Signicant increases were observed
for positive affect, meaning in life,
and life satisfaction, as well as
signicant decreases in negative affect (Table 4).
4. Discussion
This pilot study is an initial attempt to test whether a new
photography intervention holds promise for helping people
explore and consolidate meaning in their lives. Despite the
minimal nature of this intervention (taking only 912 photos,
viewing and briey describing them), signicant within-person
increases in well-being were observed using both global and state
measures. Our intervention offers a unique way to explore mean-
ing that is not wholly dependent on language. This method offers
rich, deeply personal information as a topic for exploration within
therapy. This intervention may offer a new way to explore
concepts familiar to proponents of ACT. Asking clients to reect
on why they selected specic content for their photos of meaning
Table 2
Correlations among Time 1 and Time 2 measures from the State Survey.
1 Pre-PA 0.82
2 Pre-NA 0.45
3 Pre-meaning 0.43
4 Pre-search 0.07 0.25
5 Pre-life sat 0.43
0.15 0.85
6 Post-PA 0.77
0.06 0.36
7 Post-NA 0.40
0.20 0.25
8 Post-meaning 0.35
0.18 0.62
9 Post-search 0.07 0.24
0.12 0.02 0.24
0.17 0.90
10 Post-life sat 0.38
0.19 0.90
0.19 0.80
N¼84 alpha coefcients presented in diagonal. Note: PA ¼positive affect, NA¼negative affect, Meaning ¼presence of meaning in life, Search¼search for meaning in life, Life
Sat¼satisfaction with life, Pre¼state survey completed prior to describing photos, Post¼state survey completed after describing photos.
Correlation between the two scale items.
Table 3
Repeated measures NOVA for Global Questionnaire scales, pre- and post-intervention.
FEffect size dMean (SD)
score change
Time 1
Time 2
Presence of meaning in life 7.99
0.31 1.07 (3.55) 20.44 (3.59) 21.49 (3.44)
Search for meaning in life 3.44
0.17 0.76 (3.84) 17.40 (3.94) 16.78 (4.86)
Satisfaction with life 11.29
0.27 1.37 (3.80) 26.92 (5.31) 28.24 (5.02)
Depression 2.12 0.09 0.21 (1.98) 2.60 (2.82) 2.40 (2.94)
Anxiety 0.52 0.07 0.12 (1.81) 1.98 (2.13) 1.62 (2.20)
Stress 0.19 0.04 0.10 (2.49) 4.21 (3.10) 4.33 (3.42)
As an ancillary test of meaning in life theory's differentiation between
comprehension and purpose, we conducted separate paired samples t-tests for
the three comprehension items, the purpose item, and the meaningful life item,
which are otherwise combined in the state presence of meaning measure.
Comprehensionscores signicantly increased after participants described their
photographs (t(82)¼4.20, po0.001), as did scores on the item assessing purpose (t
(80)¼3.12, po0.01). However, scores on the meaningful life item did not
signicantly increase (t(80)¼1.62, p¼0.11).
M.F. Steger et al. / Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science 3 (2014) 2730 29
could be leveraged to facilitate conversations about self-under-
standing, values clarity, and purposeful activity.
4.1. Limitations
These encouraging results are preliminary and should be
interpreted with caution for several reasons. First, this study
lacked a control group, making it impossible to rule out other
factors that might have boosted well-being (e.g., taking photos in
general). Second, the university sample raises questions of
whether the present results would generalize to other popula-
tions. Third, the State Survey measures were created for this study
and although their reliability was supported, there is no evidence
for their validity outside of this study. Fourth, scores on the DASS-
21 were not reduced by the intervention. Part of the explanation
for this failure may lie in the relatively low levels of psychological
distress reported by our sample. Also at issue is the fact that the
DASS-21 requests participants to report on the past two weeks but
the study was only one week long. Fifth, the one week duration of
the study is not sufcient to detect how quickly the intervention
effects decay.
5. Conclusion
In this paper, we present results from a pilot study of a new
intervention method consisting of taking photographs of what
makes life meaningful and describing those photos. This method is
an easy intervention to incorporate into existing psychological
treatment modalities and may offer an important avenue for
understandingand improvingpeople's meaning in life.
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Table 4
Repeated measures NOVA for State Survey scales administered immediately before and after participants wrote descriptions of their photographs.
TEffect size dMean (SD) score change Pre M(SD) Post M(SD)
Positive affect 11.66
0.25 21.05 (55.39) 328.35 (81.97) 348.89 (84.80)
Negative affect 34.20
0.37 38.84 (60.19) 124.76 (107.89) 86.49 (94.71)
Presence of meaning 17.40
0.22 18.99 (38.59) 359.36 (82.14) 377.17 (77.59)
Search for meaning 0.16 0.02 1.52 (25.84) 111.42 (57.48) 112.54 (61.04)
Life satisfaction 13.86
0.19 7.01 (17.34) 151.78 (38.21) 158.38 (34.47)
M.F. Steger et al. / Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science 3 (2014) 273030
... Meaning, defined as "the sense that people make of their existence and having an overarching life purpose they pursue" (Steger et al., 2014, p. 27), has shown to be a critical element for better functioning in almost every life domain ranging from home to work (Steger, 2009(Steger, , 2013. When individuals are actively engaging in activities which they deem to be meaningful, they are more likely to be happier (Steger, 2019), and physically healthier (Czekierda et al., 2017) as well as less likely to be depressed, stressed, or anxious (Steger et al., 2014;van Zyl et al., 2020a). When individuals are facilitated to discover what truly matters to them and are provided with the flexibility to pursue these life goals/aspirations, they show less psychopathology and show more organizational citizenship behavior, work engagement, job satisfaction, and even perform better at work (Maharaj and Schlechter, 2007;Van Zyl et al., 2010;David and Iliescu, 2020). ...
... Jacob and Steger (2021) argued that individuals could cultivate meaning through either (a) identifying the sources of meaning in one's life and aiding individuals to actively pursue activities aligned to such or (b) aiding individuals to craft meaning in various life domains. A considerable amount of attention has been placed on aiding individuals in identifying the sources of meaning in their lives ranging from meaning-centered therapy and positive psychology coaching to self-help activities such as photo-ethnography (c.f., Steger et al., 2014;van Zyl et al., 2020a;Richter et al., 2021). These approaches are designed to help individuals find activities which they deem to be meaningful and are facilitated to pursue these more actively to help buffer against the impact radical life challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic has on their mental health/wellbeing (Steger et al., 2014). ...
... A considerable amount of attention has been placed on aiding individuals in identifying the sources of meaning in their lives ranging from meaning-centered therapy and positive psychology coaching to self-help activities such as photo-ethnography (c.f., Steger et al., 2014;van Zyl et al., 2020a;Richter et al., 2021). These approaches are designed to help individuals find activities which they deem to be meaningful and are facilitated to pursue these more actively to help buffer against the impact radical life challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic has on their mental health/wellbeing (Steger et al., 2014). In contrast, aiding individuals to craft meaning in specific life domains (e.g., work-, home-, leisure-, or relationships) has only recently started to gain popularity in the literature (Tims and Bakker, 2010;Demerouti et al., 2020). ...
Full-text available
Finding meaning in our lives is a central tenet to the human experience and a core contributor to mental health. Individuals tend to actively seek the sources of meaning in their lives or consciously enact efforts to create or "craft" meaning in different life domains. These overall "Life Crafting" behaviors refer to the conscious efforts individuals exert to create meaning in their lives through (a) cognitively (re-)framing how they view life, (b) seeking social support systems to manage life challenges, and (c) actively seeking challenges to facilitate personal growth. Specifically, these behaviors are actioned to better align life goals, personal needs, values, and capabilities. However, no psychological assessment instrument currently exists to measure overall life crafting. As such, the purpose of this paper was twofold: to conceptualize life crafting and to develop, validate and evaluate a robust measure of overall life crafting. A mixed-method, multi-study research design was employed. First, nine participants were interviewed to determine the methods or techniques used to craft meaningful life experiences. These methods/techniques were used as indicators to create an initial item pool which was then reviewed by a panel of experts to ensure face validity. Second, in Study 1, the factorial structure of the instrument was explored by gathering data from a convenience sample (N = 331), with the results showing support for a three-factor structure of life crafting, consisting of (a) cognitive crafting, (b) seeking social support, and (c) seeking challenges. Finally, in Study 2 (N = 362), the aim was to confirm the factorial structure of the Life Crafting scale and to determine its level of internal consistency, partial measurement invariance across genders, and criterion validity [meaning in life (β = 0.91), mental health (β = 0.91), work engagement (β = 0.54), and job burnout (β = −0.42)]. The results supported a second-order factorial model of Life Crafting, which comprised of three first-order factors (cognitive crafting, seeking social support, and seeking challenges). Therefore, the Life Crafting Scale can be used as a valid and reliable instrument to measure-and track the effectiveness of life crafting interventions.
... Steger et al. (2008a) empirically tested the relationship between these two variables using the presence-to-search model, which states that the lack of presence of meaning leads to search for meaning; and the search-to-presence model, in which searching for meaning leads to finding meaning. They confirmed a negative relationship between the search for meaning and the presence of meaning, concluding that people search for meaning when they do not experience meaning in their current lives, which was corroborated by follow-up studies (Steger et al., 2009(Steger et al., , 2014. Notwithstanding, other studies have yielded conflicting results, demonstrating a positive relationship between the search for meaning and the presence of meaning (Datu, 2016;Chin and Lee, 2020). ...
... Figure 1 shows the final structural model with standardized coefficients (95% confidence intervals) of direct effects. Existing research on the relationship between search for meaning and presence of meaning did not produce consistent results (Steger and Kashdan, 2007;Steger et al., 2014). Thus, the "search for meaning → presence of meaning" path was deleted in our full mediation model. ...
Full-text available
Many studies demonstrate that finding meaning in life reduces stress and promotes physical and psychological well-being. However, extant literature focuses on meaning in life among the general population (e.g., college students or office workers) in their daily lives. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the mechanisms of how individuals living in life-threatening and stressful situations obtain meaning in life, by investigating the mediating roles of leisure crafting and gratitude. A total of 465 Army soldiers from the Republic of Korea (ROK) participated in two-wave surveys with a 2-week interval. Structural equation modeling analyses indicated that the direct effects between the search for meaning, presence of meaning, leisure crafting, and gratitude were significant, except for the direct relationship between the search for meaning and the presence of meaning, and between leisure crafting and the presence of meaning. We tested indirect effects using a Monte Carlo approach and found that leisure crafting and gratitude sequentially mediated the relationship between the search for meaning and the presence of meaning. Our findings highlight the importance of the motivation behind searching for meaning, the proactive use of leisure time, and gratitude for individuals in stressful situations and controlled lifestyles. Finally, we discuss the implications and limitations of this research and future research directions.
... За устойчивото щастие в дългосрочен план най-важен предиктор е жизненият смисъл (Park, Park & Peterson, 2010;Steger, Shim, Barenz & Shin, 2014). Смисълът има връзка не само с психичното благополучие, позитивните емоции, самооценката, оптимизма и удовлетвореността от живота (Chamberlain & Zika, 1988;Compton, Smith, Cornish & Qualls, 1996;Debats, van der Lubbe & Wezeman, 1993;Ryff, 1989а;Steger & Kashdan, 2007;Steger, Oishi & Kashdan, 2009а), но също така води до намаляване на негативните преживявания като депресия, страх, стрес и тревожност (Steger & Kashdan, 2009;Steger, Mann, Michels & Cooper, 2009). ...
... Търсенето на смисъл е свързано с активна позиция на търсене , докато наличието е свързано с осъзнаването на резултата и оценката на живота и свързаността с общността (Steger, Oishi & Kashdan, 2009b). Тези два конструкта могат да бъдат както самостоятелни, така и взаимосвързани (Steger et al., 2014). Търсенето може да е важно особено когато смисълът е изгубен, а в случаи, в които човек се чувства добре с намерения смисъл, търсенето отслабва и не е необходимо. ...
This book outlines the results from three research projects. It has not the ambition to be comprehensive, neither to generate a universal model of flourishing. It is an inherent extension of my previous research of happiness, life satisfaction and well-being with flourisihing as well. The main position, underlying extension of the research is that in international cross-cultural comparisons Bulgaria is usually described as the unhappiest nation. In my previous work I have evidenced that Bulgarians are dissatisfied with their lives, but happy. They ascribe very different meaning to the emotional and cognitive factors of the well-being. Coping preferences are also specific for Bulgaria. The dominating is the active coping, which turns to be more adaptive, especially in view to the need of identity re-attainment and reorganization, which also follows a specific path in Bulgaria. The three projects are devoted to well-being flourishing and reactive and proactive coping and their relations to mindfulness and life meaning. All they are within the paradigm of positive psychology and its key focus on optimal functioning. The position concerning proactive mindfulness is for a cognitive, emotional and behavioural attentive mindset, focused on the most effective individually tailored solutions. This mindset, as well as flourishing, is something that can be learnt and the sooner the better. I suggest also an extension of my previous training, devoted to promotion of identity reorganization with three steps – self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-expression and use of art therapy techniques. Proactive coping on its hand, is related to the mindful self-reflection and response. It can be promoted through focus on different life domains and social roles. The summarized results reveal that happiness, life satisfaction and flourishing have high values for the Bulgarian samples. They are both inter-related and predicted by different groups of factors. Whilst the happiness is mostly emotional, life satisfaction and flourishing are related to the context and situations as well. The general perceived situation provokes acceptance mindset and preference to active reactive coping and proactive coping. Passive coping turns out to be non-adaptive for Bulgarian context today. Proactive coping is more relevant than the reactive. Positive emotions and optimism prevail over negative emotions and pessimism. Search for meaning prevails over the meaning. Maintaining fixed commitments seems to stop personal growth and does not lead to well-being. The three pathways, suggested for learning how to flourish, are: 1) promotion of proactive coping; 2) support for active acceptance mindset; and 3) attentive mindfulness as cognitive, emotional, and behavioural focused awareness and self-reflection in the different life domains. This leads to satisfaction of the basic psychological needs of security and control (environmental mastery, autonomy, and relatedness), optimism, self-esteem and indirectly results in increased levels of happiness, life satisfaction, affective balance, and flourishing. The specific instruments are the art therapy techniques, e.g. phototherapy
... In one variation of this method called Participant-Driven Photo-Elicitation (PDPE; Van Auken et al., 2010), participants are asked to either capture or select pictures about a specific topic of interest, and either write or verbally describe the picture in an interview. Although this method has been primarily used in anthropological research, a study on meaning in life explored its potential uses as a writing tool (Steger et al., 2013;Steger et al., 2014). The main purpose of the study was to use PDPE to investigate sources of meaning in life that might not have emerged from in-depth interviews or represented by survey assessments (Steger et al., 2013). ...
... The online intervention included six sessions to be completed over the course of two weeks (i.e., three sessions each week). These sessions consisted of adaptations or adoptions of writing interventions that have been used in previous studies (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986;Steger et al., 2014) or proposed as part of multi-modal interventions (Gardner & Moore, 2007). ...
Collegiate athletes face requirements and obligations that can have a toll on their athletic and academic experience. Burnout is among the adverse consequences that these demands can cause, potentially leading to decreases in performance, motivation, and even dropout. Although research efforts on athlete burnout have been prolific, there is a dearth of studies on potential interventions to prevent or treat this syndrome. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of an online writing intervention in treating burnout in collegiate athletes through a randomized control trial. Specifically, it was hypothesized that increases in presence of meaning in sport through writing would lead to decreases in burnout symptoms. Screening involved 425 NCAA collegiate athletes from a variety of sports, with 157 qualified participants, 86 agreeing to participate, for a total of 65 participants completing the intervention. Results from a series of repeated-measure ANCOVAs showed marginal improvements in constrained commitment and presence of meaning in sport for the intervention group, with no other changes in burnout or related constructs. Manipulation check results using the LIWC software suggest the writing intervention elicited the content they were they were designed for. Findings are discussed in light of new research on meaning in sport, theoretical approaches of athlete burnout, and future research directions in both domains.
... a Photo narrative task. The photo narrative task was used by Steger Barenz, and Shin (2014) to help participants explore meaning in their lives and facilitate self-understanding. Boudreau et al. (2018) adapted this task to an idiodynamic approach by asking for discussion of the photo in the L2. ...
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Willingness to communicate (WTC) reflects an intersection between instructed second language acquisition and learner psychology. WTC results from the coordinated interaction among complex processes that prepare second language (L2) learners to choose to use their L2 for authentic communication. Prior research has revealed considerable complexity in the influences on dynamic changes in WTC from moment-to-moment. The heuristic ‘pyramid model’ of WTC (MacIntyre et al., 1998) proposes interactions among approximately 30 different variables that may influence WTC. The present study uses the pyramid model to interpret data from three focal participants, all English as a second language (ESL) learners and international students in Canada, with varying degrees of experience in an English-speaking context. Using the idiodynamic method, all participants were recorded while describing a self-selected, personally meaningful photo. Second, participants rated their WTC in English using software that played a recording of their speech and collected continuous WTC ratings. Finally, participants were interviewed about their WTC ratings. Triangulating the data revealed how processes on multiple timescales interact during L2 communication about the photos. WTC changes as speakers’ motivations and emotions are influenced by the deep, personal relevance of the topics under discussion. Pedagogical implications for the results of this study and the use of the idiodynamic method in L2 classrooms are discussed.
... Practicing random acts of kindness (Otake et al., 2006), My gravestone (Cozzolino, et al., 2004); Integrity mirror exercise (Ben-Shahar, 2007), Meaning photos (Steger, et al., 2014) Foster positive accomplishments ...
Both Coaching Psychology and Positive Psychology programs have been empirically shown to enhance various aspects of well-being. Perhaps surprisingly, no study to date has directly compared the two approaches along various outcomes in adults. We randomly assigned 393 M.B.A students to attend 13 weeks of lectures, with accompanying practical exercises, in either Positive Psychology, Coaching Psychology, or Organizational Behaviour (control group). Though participants in both the Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology groups experienced improvements (vs. the control group) in subjective well-being and psychopathology, Coaching Psychology participants experienced additional benefits – beyond those experienced by Positive Psychology participants, who did not differ from the control group – in goal attainment, self-insight, psychological well-being, and solution-focused thinking. The latter benefits may be attributable to Coaching Psychology’s capacity to enhance personal agency through goal-focused self-regulation, a key tenet of the coaching relationship. We suggest that this concept could inform future Positive Psychology programs.
Purpose This paper aims to look at how participant photography can be used in human resource development (HRD) as a research method that is innovative and inclusive. In published work on traditional photo elicitation methods, the participant is shown previously prepared visual images to create knowledge. This can provoke an inaccurate depiction due to the images being previously prepared. Participant photography differs greatly from the traditional photo-elicitation method. In participant photography, the participant is provided with the opportunity to capture their own visual images of the surrounding environment, allowing for data to be captured through their own eyes. More notably, participants voice their own experiences after taking the photographs as a means for providing rich data for researchers. Design/methodology/approach Participant photography is an innovative qualitative research method where the research participant is encouraged to document their lived experiences through images taken by the participant. Additionally, the participants take part in individual interviews and group individual sessions to further explain the images. Findings The research findings can lead to deeper insight into the research topic and even accommodate potential issues related to literacy and language barriers. By introducing a new qualitative research method to HRD, the lived experiences can be documented and examined in a new, different and arguably more accurate way. Research limitations/implications Literature discussing participant photography in HRD is limited. Although this limitation puts constraints on this study, it creates an opportunity to further define how participant photography can be used in HRD. This method offers a means for HRD researchers and practitioners to focus on the voices of participants to improve organizations. Practical implications This study addresses how participant photography can be used in the field of HRD by describing the process of participant recruitment, implementation of the method, participant interviews, group discussion and analysis. Specifically, this study focused on the practical application, including the method’s strengths, potential weaknesses and ethical challenges. Social implications The method of participant photography has been commonly used in community-based studies, public health projects and medical research projects, yet in ever-changing HRD needs, there are many advantages for the field of HRD to implement this method. Originality/value Although the concept of participant photography is still in its infancy in HRD, this study explains how participant photography can be used for both researchers and practitioners to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of topics related to HRD.
Meaning in life is a summative cognition of valuable goals, life purpose, and relationships among things and people. A central feature of meaning in life is the broad consideration of more than oneself. We extend this logic to suggest that people higher in meaning in life will engage in more prosocial behaviors, compared to others. Further extending this idea, we hypothesized and longitudinally tested the assertion that one of the potentials, yet overlooked and important mechanisms that mediates the association between current meaning in life and prosocial behavior among university students six-months later is psychological capital (PsyCap). A total of 913 Chinese university students (25.6% males; 70.3% females; Mage = 19.63, SDage = 1.04) completed a Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ), a Prosocial Tendencies Measure (PTM), and a Positive Psychological Capital Questionnaire (PPQ) at three different times. The results showed that the association between T1 meaning in life and T3 prosocial behavior was significant before adding the mediator variables into the model (β = 0.10, p < 0.001). T2 PsyCap significantly mediated the influence of T1 meaning in life on T3 prosocial behavior (indirect effect = 0.10; 95% CI [0.06, 0.14]). We concluded that meaning in life in university students can influence subsequent prosocial behaviors, directly, as well as through PsyCap.
The concept of ikigai is still relatively new in the West; yet it has already succeeded in drawing attention as a unique and potentially key predictor of physical and psychological wellbeing. Given its multidimensional nature and the profound ideas it encapsulates regarding the life worth living, it may require not only a cross-disciplinary approach but also a multimethod one to fully understand. Through the theoretical perspectives of positive psychology and meaning in life, this chapter aims at complementing the emerging contribution of large-scale and longitudinal studies with a “bottom-up” qualitative understanding of how ikigai is experienced and expressed. This chapter will also point to the potential benefits of exploring individuals' experiences of ikigai, using creative methods, given that it is a personal, phenomenological pillar of human experience which is often challenging to capture verbally. Insights from this chapter may inform empirical and practical implications for further development of therapeutic, organisational, and educational interventions.
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Although research relying on self-report inventories has built an increased appreciation of the importance of meaning in life, such research has strayed somewhat from the original promise of meaning in life research, which was to shed light on the individual experience of meaning. Some research has focused on understanding people's sources of meaning. However, previous methods have relied on verbal ways of assessing sources of meaning in life. In recognition of the fact that not everyone has highly developed verbal skills -and that even those who do can find it hard to articulate what life means -we offer a new method for understanding individuals' experiences with meaning in life. In this article, we describe the use of photography to elicit information about people's sources of meaning and provide inductive qualitative analysis of a pilot study using this method. Photography holds great potential as a new method for seeing meaning through another's eyes.
Full-text available
Although research relying on self-report inventories has built an increased appreciation of the importance of meaning in life, such research has strayed somewhat from the original promise of meaning in life research, which was to shed light on the individual experience of meaning. Some research has focused on understanding people’s sources of meaning. However, previous methods have relied on verbal ways of assessing sources of meaning in life. In recognition of the fact that not everyone has highly developed verbal skills – and that even those who do can find it hard to articulate what life means – we offer a new method for understanding individuals’ experiences with meaning in life. In this article, we describe the use of photography to elicit information about people’s sources of meaning and provide inductive qualitative analysis of a pilot study using this method. Photography holds great potential as a new method for seeing meaning through another’s eyes.
Subjects were 201 college students, who used R.C. Ziller's (1990) autophotographic method to answer the question who are you? Richness of self-depiction (i.e., creative and self-expressive vs. prosaic photo essays) and interpersonal connectedness of the self were examined. As expected, Openness to Experience from the 5-factor model predicted richness of photo essays. Among women, Neuroticism and Introversion also predicted richness. As expected, Extraversion and Agreeableness related to interpersonal orientations in photo essays. Intergenerational photos had especially salient meaning for personality. Three other predictions received support, bearing on such identity-relevant categories as alcohol use, religiosity, self-exhibition in bathing attire, and identification with one's school. Results are integrated with literature on interpersonal connectedness and the relation of creativity to personality.
This article reports the development and validation of a scale to measure global life satisfaction, the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Among the various components of subjective well-being, the SWLS is narrowly focused to assess global life satisfaction and does not tap related constructs such as positive affect or loneliness. The SWLS is shown to have favorable psychometric properties, including high internal consistency and high temporal reliability. Scores on the SWLS correlate moderately to highly with other measures of subjective well-being, and correlate predictably with specific personality characteristics. It is noted that the SWLS is suited for use with different age groups, and other potential uses of the scale are discussed.
Orientations are defined as behaviors involved in the process of self-definition where the environment is scanned in search of personal points of reference and available sources of self-reinforcement. The method requires the subject to take (or have someone else take) a set of 12 photographs which describe "who you are." Juvenile delinquents were found to reveal lower institutional orientation (home and school) and aesthetic orientation but greater peer orientation than a control group.