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Beyond the Search for Meaning: A Contemporary Science of the Experience of Meaning in Life

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Abstract

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 functioning. However, this research also indicates that the experience of meaning in life may come from unexpectedly quotidian sources, including positive mood and coherent life experiences. Moreover, the experience of meaning in life may be quite a bit more commonplace than is often portrayed. Attending to the emerging science of meaning in life suggests not only potentially surprising conclusions but new directions for research on this important aspect of well-being.

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... Meaningfulness and meaning-making are addressed in both psychological (King et al., 2006(King et al., , 2016Park, 2010;George and Park, 2016;Wong, 2017;Martela et al., 2018;Crego et al., 2020) and nursing research (Glaw et al., 2017). Meaning-making is considered to have three different meanings: "(a) cognitive processes of attribution and appraisal, (b) creative work of employing one's gifts to make a useful contribution, and (c) narrative process of constructing a personal story to make sense of an event or one's life" (Wong, 2017, p. 86). ...
... The importance of addressing meaningfulness is emphasized by pointing at the psychopathologies that may arise of meaninglessness, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, aggression, hopelessness, apathy, lower levels of well-being, physical illness, and suicide (Glaw et al., 2017). By focusing on positive affect and relationships, especially with family, healthcare personnel can reduce these psychopathologies and enhance meaningfulness in life with positive well-being, happiness, and better coping with stressful events (King et al., 2006(King et al., , 2016Glaw et al., 2017;Crego et al., 2020). Another way to make meaning in life and experience meaningfulness is found to be experiencing autonomy and competence, as well as satisfaction of relatedness and beneficence (Martela et al., 2018). ...
... By fostering resident's positive affect the healthcare personnel can promote affective ties to a place for the resident such as the environment surrounding the nursing home, and thus support health, well-being and enhance quality of life for the residents (Ramkissoon, 2020a(Ramkissoon, ,b, 2021. Healthcare personnel can enhance meaningfulness in life with helping to create positive well-being, happiness, and better coping in residents (King et al., 2006(King et al., , 2016Glaw et al., 2017;Crego et al., 2020). This may be important for actually offer person-centered care to nursing home residents which is emphasized in the current study. ...
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Background: The literature shows that innovation, which includes culture change, may be important to create a meaningful everyday life for nursing home residents. However, there is a gap in how social innovation practices may contribute to this. The theoretical discourse for the study is person-centered care. Aim: The main aim was to explore phenomena within social innovation that can contribute to improving nursing home residents’ everyday lives. Design and Method: This study uses an ethnographic design with observations and interviews in two nursing homes in Southern Norway. Findings: The main theme was that social innovation within working practices in nursing homes includes phenomena that contribute to a meaningful everyday life for the residents. This main theme includes five subthemes: (1) opening the nursing home to the surroundings; (2) expanding and strengthening the community of practice; (3) facilitating customized activities; (4) ensuring sufficient nutrition and facilitating enjoyable mealtimes; and (5) preventing unrest and disturbing behavior. Conclusion: The study reveals that innovation practices grounded in person-centered care in nursing homes may contribute to opening the nursing home to the community and establishing a common community practice for all members of the nursing home. This enables residents to experience meaningful everyday life through customized activities, sufficient nutrition, and a pleasant milieu during mealtimes. Disturbing behavior is also prevented, making it possible to promote meaningful lives in nursing homes.
... Meaning in life involves an understanding of one's life--particularly how one's life fits within the world--as having a sense of direction and value (Steger, Oishi, & Kashdan, 2009). The experience that one's life is meaningful thus reflects the perception that one has purpose and significance, and that life holds some degree of logic and coherence (King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016). Importantly, meaning is subjective: ...
... Therefore, we examined the hypothesized indirect pathways from early parental support to meaning in life through the mediating effects of optimism and identity commitment, including the relative effects of these mediators (i.e., that one would exhibit more of a mediating effect than the other). Further, because meaning in life tends to be entangled with psychological distress (King et al., 2016), and to account for overlap between general positive affect and our predictor variables, we controlled for neuroticism--the dispositional tendency toward depressive and anxious states--to provide a more conservative test of predictors of meaning. By better understanding the dispositional features that emerges from early parental support to facilitate meaning-making, prevention and intervention programing may be optimized to help young people develop their sense of meaning in life. ...
... Given the multiple health and social domains that are associated with meaning in life (King et al., 2016), one of the implications of the present findings involves attention to the quality of childhood relationships with caregivers as a precursor to attitudinal and identity variables that foster meaning. While the present findings accord with previous research regarding associations between family relationships and meaning (Lambert et al., 2010), and between early adversity and diminished meaning in life (Weibel et al., 2017), further research is needed to better understand these processes and the various potential factors that can strengthen, mitigate, or undermine them. ...
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Meaning in life is an important aspect of wellbeing for young adults transitioning into new roles. While research suggests young adults’ quality of family environments is associated with meaning, few studies have examined mechanisms that explain how early parental support may facilitate young adults’ sense of meaning. Understanding factors that contribute to the development of meaning can shape helping practices for young adults, particularly those lacking in earlier parental support. The present study explored the relationship between young adults’ appraisals of childhood parental support and present meaning in life, through mediation effects of dispositional optimism and identity commitment. A sample of 120 young adults aged 18–25 completed assessments of early parental support, optimism, identity commitment, and meaning in life. Parallel mediation was used to examine the hypothesized model, controlling for neuroticism. Analyses supported the association between early parental support and meaning in life being mediated by optimism and identity commitment. The findings may inform prevention and intervention practices in support of healthy development and wellbeing among youth.
... To analyze meaning in the second sense (as purpose), I use research from the "science of meaning in life"-a subfield of psychology devoted to questions about meaning in life (Hicks & Routledge [eds.] 2013; King, Heintzelman, & Ward 2016). I discuss the science of meaning in life further in chapter 4, and I show, through literary analysis, how science is made meaningful in the books under investigation. ...
... As with most psychology, it is likely that the studies cited by King, Heintzelman, and Ward (2016) were conducted on WEIRD people: Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan 2010). Whether or not these characterizations of meaning extend to everyone is unclear. ...
... Whether or not these characterizations of meaning extend to everyone is unclear. However, this does not matter, in the present context, because the 96 They discuss the fifth category, living in a world that makes sense-a category that researchers have begun "to build a strong case" for as one of the predictors (King, Heintzelman, & Ward 2016: 213)-after the good mood-category, which is why it is not included in the quoted discussion. 97 These supercategories do not appear in King, Heintzelman, & Ward (2016); they are my way of categorizing their categories. ...
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“Science” is a historically variable, connotationally rich, and contested term. No single institution, individual, or group of individuals can claim de nitional authority over its meaning. The use of “science” carries weight and credibility in society, at least in many sectors. Yet while “science” is a contested term over which no one can claim de nitional authority, science is de ned and carried out in practice around the world daily. It is de ned in dictionaries and mission statements by scienti c organizations, in education guidelines and high school curricula, in media coverage and science ction novels, and in popular science books. In this dissertation, Daniel Helsing analyzes the construction of the universe, science, and human­ kind in contemporary mainstream Anglo­American popularizations of physics and astronomy. He shows that popularizers use literary techniques and rhetorical strategies to construct and explain science, to represent the universe and humankind’s place in the universe, and to evoke aesthetic and emotional responses in their readers.
... There are two influential perspectives when it comes to the psychological study of meaning. King et al. (2016) emphasize the role of mundane life experiences in providing meaning, including relationships and even one's mood (Hicks & King, 2008;King et al., 2006King et al., , 2016King & Hicks, 2021). Religion may be one way-but by no means the primary way-to generate meaning through these more mundane mechanisms. ...
... There are two influential perspectives when it comes to the psychological study of meaning. King et al. (2016) emphasize the role of mundane life experiences in providing meaning, including relationships and even one's mood (Hicks & King, 2008;King et al., 2006King et al., , 2016King & Hicks, 2021). Religion may be one way-but by no means the primary way-to generate meaning through these more mundane mechanisms. ...
... To claim that religion is uniquely able to promote meaning, researchers would need to solve several problems. First, it is not clear that religion is among the most important or robust predictors of meaning in life-indeed, it seems that a positive mood is the most robust predictor of meaning in life, and can compensate for a lack of religious belief (King et al., 2016). Key studies in this area will compare religious meaning with other sources to test hypotheses of specialness. ...
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Religion makes unique claims (such as in the existence of supernatural agents) not found in other belief systems, but is religion itself psychologically special? Furthermore, religion is related to many domains of psychological interest, like morality, health and well-being, self-control, meaning, and death anxiety. Does religion act on these domains via special mechanisms that are unlike secular mechanisms? These could include mechanisms like beliefs in supernatural agents, providing ultimate meaning, and providing literal immortality. We apply a critical eye to these questions of specialness. We conclude that, while it is clear that religion is psychologically important, there is not yet strong evidence that it is psychologically special, with the possible exception of its effects on health. We highlight what would be required of future research aimed at convincingly demonstrating that religion is indeed psychologically special, including careful definitions of religion, and careful attention to experimental design and causal inference.
... The process of searching for meaning in life shows that a person wants to achieve a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and self-fulfillment, and that is what drives him to act (King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016). ...
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Happiness and work satisfaction have been the focus of many studies in the last decade. The literature suggests three main dimensions of the quest for happiness ― pleasure, meaning, and engagement. While goal setting has been identified as a prominent process that may support happiness as well as work satisfaction, it has never been addressed as a dimension in the quest for happiness. This study addressed the literature gap, by presenting empirical evidence for the fourth dimension and its effect on work satisfaction. Based on 1077 respondents, Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) followed by Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) were employed. Results confirm the existence of an independent fourth dimension, and its effect on job satisfaction and happiness. Although goal setting is a prominent construct to achieve happiness, especially in western culture, this is the first study that validates it as the fourth dimension in the search for happiness, followed by practical implications in the workforce.
... Steger [9] mentions two main dimensions of meaning in life: purpose (an individual has life aspirations that are consistent with each other and motivate him to act) and comprehension (an individual is able to make sense and understand himself, the world, and the relationship between him and the world he lives in). There are, however, researchers who also point to the existence of three dimensions of this construct: purpose, significance (to what extent a person believes his/her life is important and meaningful), and coherence (a certain level of predictability that allows a person to make sense of his/her life) [10]. Although the indicated dimensions of meaning in life are not identical, the research results suggest that they are located lower in the hierarchy than the "global" sense of meaning, which is at the top [11]. ...
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In recent years, the issue of the meaning in life has aroused particularly great interest in researchers considering the question of whether and how, using simple interventions, outside the therapeutic office, the sense of meaning in life and well-being can be strengthened. The aim of this study was to explore whether interventions based on reflection on everyday, stressful situations can contribute to fostering the sense of meaning in life and psychological well-being among emerging adults. Additionally, we aimed to explore relationships between the above-mentioned constructs and self-efficacy. The research focuses on emerging adults, who, as statistics show, are the most vulnerable among all adults to various mental problems. A pretest–posttest control group design was used. The study involved 80 emerging adults (56 women and 24 men) who were randomly assigned to the experimental group, which completed specially prepared diaries for a week, or the control group. Participants completed the Meaning in Life Questionnaire, the Generalised Self-Efficacy Scale, and the Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-Being twice. In the experimental group, significant differences were noted between pretest and posttest in psychological well-being, especially in the area of relationships with others (Mpretest = 59.3; Mposttest = 65.07; t(39) = −11.40; p = 0.001) and purpose in life (Mpretest = 54.85; Mposttest = 58.21; t(39) = −3.15; p = 0.003), as well as self-efficacy (Mpretest = 28.06; Mposttest = 29.60; t(39) = −2.82; p = 0.007). There were no differences in the level of meaning in life. The analysis carried out showed that self-efficacy mediates the relationship between presence of meaning in life and psychological well-being (the Aroian test: z = 4.48; SE = 0.11; p = 0.0007).
... An eudaimonic view of well-being conceptualizes well-being in terms of realization of one's true potential (Ryff & Keyes, 1995), and the experience of purpose or meaning in life (Ryff, 1989). Social relations and interpersonal relationships were indicated as the key sources of meaning in life (King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016). While meaning in life corresponds to perceived support from family and friends (Stillman, Lambert, Fincham, & Baumeister, 2011), loneliness is considered as a reduction of perceptions of life as meaningful (N. ...
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Concerning the importance of psychological well-being (PWB) on physical and mental health, this study aimed at exploring the effective factor on PWB. A multiple mediation analysis was used to investigate whether mindfulness and the presence of meaning in life mediate the predictive relationship between loneliness and PWB. An eligible sample of 412 completed four questionnaires including the De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale, the short version of Ryff Scales of PWB, the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale(MAAS), and the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ). Results demonstrated that loneliness led to a lower level of PWB by reducing mindfulness and the presence of meaning. Results also illustrated that the search for meaning could contribute to the model via contribution to the presence of meaning. It can be asserted that improving mindfulness traits and meaning in life can mitigate the disruptive effect of loneliness on PWB.
... can indicate varies, especially across all psy-and phil-disciplines (including psychiatry, psychology, psychopathology, psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology, the philosophy of mind and so on). For this reason, here follows a literature that can serve as a starting point to clarify the intricacy of these expressions [42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60]. 2 In the text I will write "axiological" in a hyphened and not hyphened way. I use this latter when I need to refer to the value quality proper to this adjective. ...
Article
This article describes the mereological constitution of contents in the intentional acts of people affected by borderline personality disorder (BPD) or emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) in order to shed light on the origin of the emotional instability characterizing this disorder. The article will first discuss the emotional cycle of people affected by this disorder; second, it will focus on the mereological aspect of the meaning-making 1 experience in the intentional act; third, it will show how this meaning-making experience usually interacts with axiological 2 qualities that affect the continuity of their sense of reality. From the investigation, it emerges that the mereological constitution of contents occurs in a way that is disruptive of the continuity of BPD/EUPDs’ interaffective lifeworld as it generates intersubjective disturbances on the axiological, logical, and ontological levels. On this basis, as a concluding suggestion, the paper will propose an alternative way to approach the problem, soothe the disturbance, and encourage integration.
... Thus, collectively promoting people's sense of meaning and purpose in life could potentially save hundreds or thousands of lives. For reviews of potential modifiable factors that might influence people's sense of meaning in life, see King et al. (2016) and King and Hicks (2021). ...
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Perceiving life as meaningful can buffer against negative experiences, whereas searching for meaning in life is often associated with negative outcomes. We examined how these individual differences, along with religiosity and political orientation, are associated with feelings and health-related behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic ( N = 7,220; U.S. nationally representative sample). Conservatism and religiosity predicted less negative effect; conservatives (but not the highly religious) were less likely to engage in preventive actions such as wearing face masks and social distancing. Controlling for political orientation, religiosity, and demographics, the presence of meaning in life predicted less negative affect and greater healthy preventive actions, whereas searching for meaning predicted greater negative affect and more preventive and risky health behaviors. Thus, the perception that life is meaningful not only predicts an individual’s emotional well-being but is also associated with beneficial actions that can help protect others from the spread of the coronavirus.
... Each individual is unique. Individuals can always change along with the changing process of space and time (King et al., 2016), such as the identity transformation experienced when an individual is involved in the Muslim communities of Moluccas Immanuel Church. ...
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This study focuses on the phenomenon that arose from the involvement of the Muslim community in the pela gandong ritual communication on December 2, 2018. Religious symbols were used to celebrate the first Advent held in Immanuel Church, Moluccas Islands, Indonesia. Symbols included chanting the call to prayer, lafadz Rawi barzanji, and the call to worship, singing hymns of praise, and lighting Advent candles. Using qualitative methods and subjective interpretive paradigms with data collected through interviews, observations were made from a phenomenological perspective, especially ritual, social transformation, social identity negotiation, and symbolic interactionism theory. The results showed that the involvement of the Muslim community in communication rituals has beliefs and values as central principles of kindred equivalence and social-community concerns. In addition, implementing cross-religious kinship in the subjective experience impacts proof of self-identity, human kinship, relationship creation, treatment acceptance, and joint worship labels. The last leads to a developed case of civic pluralism in the pre-conflict era that had been shattered by the conflict. It is likely that cross-religious civic pluralism is a necessary precondition for efforts to build theological pluralism. This article contributes to understanding Muslim communities’ subjective experience regarding cross-religious pela gandong ritual communication and encourages further research in this area.
... When referring to presence of meaning in this paper, we draw on the commonalities across the myriad conceptual definitions of life meaning used in empirical research (Heintzelman & King, 2014;King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016;Martela & Steger, 2016). Presence of meaning (i) includes a sense of purpose, or clear goals and direction in life, (ii) encompasses the belief that one's own life is significant, or that one's life has value and importance, and (iii) involves the sense that life is coherent, comprehensible, and predictable. ...
Article
Authenticity predicts greater presence of meaning in life, in general (between-persons) and in the moment (within-persons). However, little is known about whether authenticity predicts negative aspects of life meaning, such as struggles with ultimate meaning. Across three studies (total N = 719), two of which used daily diaries (daily reports = 1,980), correlations, confirmatory factor analyses, and multilevel path models together showed that higher levels of authenticity related positively to presence of meaning and negatively to struggle with ultimate meaning at the between- and within-person levels. These findings are consistent with humanistic, existential, and positive psychology theories of authenticity and meaning and raise the possibility that increasing authenticity states over time may predict sustained improvement in multiple aspects of meaning.
... Meaning in life is defined as a sense that one's life matters, makes sense, and has purpose (George & Park, 2016;King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016;Martela & Steger, 2016;Schlegel & Hicks, 2011). Some argue that finding meaning in life is at the core of human existence (Park, 2017). ...
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, various restrictions forced people around the world to socially isolate. People were asked to stay at home and were largely unable to do many of the activities that they derived meaning from. Since meaning is often related to mental health, these restrictions were likely to decrease mental health. The current study aimed to examine these effects and additionally benefit individuals' mental health by making their meaning salient. Specifically, the goal of the research was to design an intervention that could counter the potential negative effects of social distancing. We recruited a total of 96 U.S.A. residents (M age = 34.45, 92.7% Female) and assigned them to either the control group or to a meaning salience intervention. That is, participants either focused on the meaning of their daily activities (n = 45) or did not participate in any study-related activities during the week (n = 51). They completed various measures of mental health before and after this experimental period. Results suggested that the control group reported significantly greater anxiety, depression, and stress at the end of the week. In contrast, the experimental group reported less anxiety and trended toward less depression and stress at the end of that same week. In all, results suggest that simply focusing on one's daily activities and the meaning found in them protected people from the otherwise detrimental effects of the restrictions. This provides a promising and simple intervention that may assist both individuals and practitioners aiming to improve mental health, especially in challenging times.
... Everyday goals have been empirically proved to boost people's sense of purpose (Kim, Seto, Davis & Hicks, 2014 p. 12), helping them to find meaning in life. According to King, Heintzelman and Ward (2016), "rather than being mysterious and inaccessible, meaning in life is rooted in quotidian circumstances and is a surprisingly common human experience" (p.212). This certainly resonates with the ethos of group coaching for wellbeing model, which encourages coachees to reflect on practical aspects of their day-to-day experience. ...
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This multi-methods study, informed by the principles of action research, presents an evidence-based model for group coaching for wellbeing. The model is primarily based on psychological wellbeing and positive psychology theories, and it was tested empirically over two group coaching interventions. Coachees' wellbeing improved after the group coaching interventions and the data analysis shows that the programme supported coachees in various areas associated with wellbeing, such as meaning, positive emotions, locus of control, and new perspectives. Furthermore, coachees reported that the coaching programme raised their self-awareness and provided them with a supportive environment for action and change. The study highlighted the crucial role the group can play as a catalyst for change, whilst enabling coachees to experience conditions that contribute to their wellbeing. By shining a spotlight on group coaching, this research has shown the value of working in this way, including the opportunity to make coaching for wellbeing more inclusive, accessible and impactful.
... In the sample, some management scholars used the term "meaning" interchangeably with sensemaking (e.g., Höllerer, Jancsary, & Grafström, 2018) whereas others simply used it in a colloquial sense (e.g., referring to meaning without citing a specific concept [Wolfram-Cox, 1997]). To wit, despite philosophers pondering the question for centuries (see Muldoon, 2006), scholars have recently acknowledged that meaning continues to be difficult to define and understand (King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016;Lepisto & Pratt, 2017). Therefore, if meaning is truly a foundational motivation for how people comprehend and act upon their experiences within subjective time, future scholars must advance its conceptual development by specifying what is (and is not) meaning, particularly in a temporal sense. ...
... Hedonic and eudemonic well-being are strongly correlated with each other (Disabato, Goodman, Kashdan, Short, & Jarden, 2016;Joshanloo, 2016;Linley, Maltby, Wood, Osborne, & WELL-BEING SCIENCE 8 Hurling, 2009;Longo, Coyne, Joseph, & Gustavsson, 2016) and may have a bi-directional causal relationship. Leading a meaningful life, for example, can be a source of positive emotions, but positive emotions can also make life feel more meaningful (King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016). ...
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Research on well-being has exploded in recent years, with over 50,000 relevant publications each year, making it difficult for psychologists—including key communicators such as textbook authors—to stay current with this field. At the same time, well-being is a daily concern among policymakers and members of the general public. The topic is also extremely relevant to the lives of students—illustrating the diverse methods used in the behavioral sciences, presenting highly-replicated findings, and demonstrating the diversity in individuals and cultures. Therefore, five experts present eight topics meeting the above standards that teachers and authors should seriously consider in their coverage of this field. These topics range from processes such as adaptation, to influences such as income, to the benefits of well-being, to cultural and societal diversity in well-being and its causes. We aim to ensure more complete coverage of this important area in psychology courses but also serve as a model for coverage in other areas of psychology.
... Its characteristic manifestation is the cognitive activity of attributing meaning to events, experiences, objects and persons (Heine et al., 2006). When evaluating the sense of meaning in one's life, one analyzes cues from many life contexts, including close interpersonal relations, achievements at work, economic status and spiritual life (King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016;Emmons, 2005). In their cognitive reflections on the meaning of life people use various temporal perspectives, often interchangeably, including formulating plans and traveling mentally into the future (Vess, Hoeldtke, Leal, Sanders, & Hicks, 2018), as well as reappraising their past experiences (Davis, Nolen-Hoeksema, & Larson, 1998) and actively focusing on present events, both internal and external, i.e. in mindfulness practice (Garland, Farb, Goldin, & Fredrickson, 2015). ...
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The aim of the study was to investigate the interplay between loneliness and mindfulness in predicting presence of meaning (POM 1), taking into consideration the additional role of the search for meaning (SFM). A sample of 415 participants from Poland aged 18-55 (M = 27.88; SD = 8.66) completed a set of 3 questionnaires: the De Jong-Gierveld Loneliness Scale, the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale, and Meaning in Life Questionnaire. Our results suggest that mindfulness partially mediated the relationship between loneliness and POM. This effect was moderated by SFM. Specifically, an indirect effect was found among participants with medium-and high-levels of search for meaning but not in the participants with a low level 1 Abbreviations: POM-Presence of meaning; SFM-Search for meaning. 2 of this variable. Furthermore, it turned out that SFM enhanced the relationship between mindfulness and POM. These results are discussed in the context of the evolutionary theory of loneliness, meaning-making mechanisms of mindfulness and schema-like properties of SFM.
... Presence of meaning in life (PMIL, i.e., having a subjective experience that life is meaningful; King et al. 2016) is crucial to human well-being. Studies on Western and Eastern adolescents have found that those with greater PMIL report better hedonic well-being (e.g., Lin and Shek 2019;Kiang and Fuligni 2010;Wang et al. 2016; see a review, Shek 2012a) and fewer problematic behaviors (Brassai et al. 2012). ...
Article
Theories suggest that having a meaningful life has beneficial effects on adolescent well-being. Encouraging adolescents to search for meaning in their lives is therefore well advised. However, whether and how the search for meaning in life (SMIL) is related to adolescent well-being is unclear. Thus, this study tested the following two hypotheses, based on a sample of 1539 Chinese adolescents in the tenth grade (Mage = 15.8 years): 1) the SMIL promotes adolescent well-being (“SMIL-as-promotor”), and 2) social connectedness mediates the link between the SMIL and adolescent well-being (“connectedness-as-mediator”). Multiple regression analyses revealed that SMIL was positively associated with life satisfaction, self-esteem and positive affect, and negatively associated with negative affect in the adolescents who exhibited low levels of presence of meaning; thus supporting the SMIL-as-promotor hypothesis. Mediation analyses revealed that SMIL was related to social connectedness (i.e., parent-child communication and peer relationship), which, in turn, was linked to the presence of meaning and hedonic well-being (i.e., life satisfaction, self-esteem, positive affect, and negative affect). These findings support the connectedness-as-mediator hypothesis. The implications of these findings for youth prevention programs and intervention services are discussed.
... These studies consider eudaimonic experiences resulting from purposeful goal pursuits (e.g., achievement, mastery, self-development, etc.). Yet, arguably meaningful experiences are not limited to these activities, and they can happen in our everydayness (King et al., 2016). ...
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This study investigates a technology-mediated experience design that fosters memorable and meaningful tourism experiences (MMEs). Technology has been playing an integral role in facilitating people to make personal choices on their tourism activities, from itinerary planning, online bookings, and way findings, to social sharing of people’s journeys. This study shows how technology may offer the potential to transcend personalized experiences into memorable and meaningful experiences. A review of literature in positive psychology provided three insights on MMEs. First, a holistic understanding of MMEs from one’s explicit experiential dimension to implicit experiential dimension, which includes what people do, feel, think, and value. Second, MMEs also result from pursuing growth goals derived from their past, present, and future aspirations. Lastly, character strengths, which represent positive traits of individuals, can be the pivotal component in MMEs because they are the bridge between the implicit and the explicit dimensions of experience. Experience of meaning can emerge by making the implicit explicit, thereby fostering self-awareness, a sense of purpose, and self-development towards flourishing. Therefore, this study seeks to incorporate character strengths into an informatics system so that users can cultivate their character strengths and facilitate users in the appreciation of their MMEs by connecting what they do, feel, think and value. This thesis is composed of interrelated three studies that progress through a design process. The first study explored how technology can support people to cultivate their character strengths for the creation of memorable and meaningful experiences. It resulted in a tripartite strengths-based HCI framework that encapsulates three aspects of strengths used namely, strengths well spent, reflection and introspection, and anticipation of future self. The second study focused on the stage of reflection and introspection by investigating people’s proficiencies in creating visual diary with photos generated on their memorable and meaningful journeys because comprehensive visual storytelling is the prerequisite for people to connect the experience to the associated implicit psychological motives and needs. The result informed the development of a proof-of-concept strengths-based journaling platform. The third study involved the evaluation of the platform from three perspectives. First, on the features that facilitate users to create meaning by making the implicit psychological dimensions of MMEs (e.g., character strengths, motives, and values) explicit. Second, participants’ strengths that had drawn upon on their MMEs. Third, their intentions on cultivating their characters strengths, and pursuing values gained in their future journeys. The result showed that people deepened their self-awareness by using the platform. Also, MMEs more often involved people’s moderate character strengths rather than signature strengths. Participants were more willing to pursue the value gained and develop the character strengths used in their future journeys rather than revisit the places. By making the implicit psychological dimensions explicit, this study showed that technology facilitates people to deepen their self-awareness through recognizing deep-rooted values and appreciate character strengths from their MMEs. The result of this study has multiple implications and contributions to the field of technology-mediated experience design and smart tourism innovation at the levels of empirical research, theory, and artifacts.
... Meaning in life refers to the subjective perception that one's existence is significant (i.e., has worth), purposeful (i.e., has direction), and coherent (i.e., has predictability; King et al., 2016). Nostalgic narratives invoke momentous events from one's life (e.g., anniversaries, graduations; Wildschut et al., 2006) or cultural life scripts (e.g., festival celebrations, Sunday lunches; Berntsen & Rubin, 2004). ...
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Nostalgia, a sentimental longing for one's past, has been garnering keen empirical attention in the psychological literature over the last two decades. After providing a historical overview, we place the emotion in cross-cultural context. Laypeople in many cultures conceptualize nostalgia similarly: as a past-oriented, social, self-relevant, and bittersweet emotion, but more sweet (positively toned) than bitter (negatively toned). That is, the nostalgizer reflects on a fond and personally important event—often their childhood or valued relationships—relives the event through rose-colored glasses, yearns for that time or relationship, and may even wish to return briefly to the past. Also, triggers of nostalgia (e.g., adverts, food, cold temperatures, loneliness) are similar across cultures. Moreover, across cultures nostalgia serves three key functions: it elevates social connectedness (a sense of belongingness or acceptance), meaning in life (a sense that one's life is significant, purposeful, and coherent), and self-continuity (a sense of connection between one's past and present self). Further, nostalgia acts as a buffer against discomforting psychological states (e.g., loneliness) similarly in varied cultural contexts. For example, (1) loneliness is positively related to, or intensifies, nostalgia; (2) loneliness is related to, or intensifies, adverse outcomes such as unhappiness or perceived lack of social support; and (3) nostalgia suppresses the relation between loneliness and adverse outcomes. Additionally, nostalgia facilitates one's acculturation to a host culture. Specifically, (1) nostalgia (vs. control) elicits a positive acculturation orientation toward a host culture; (2) nostalgia (vs. control) amplifies bicultural identity integration; and (3) positive acculturation orientation mediates the effect of host-culture nostalgia on bicultural identity integration. We conclude by identifying lacunae in the literature and calling for follow-up research.
... To understand this definition of meaning in life, it is important to know that, although life has meaning in all situations and circumstances, it has to be experienced as meaningful (King et al., 2016). Therefore, when the search for meaning in a person's life is constantly hampered, it can be psychologically damaging. ...
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Introduction Positive psychological variables, such as meaning in life and the capacity for enjoyment, are important resilience factors against negative behaviors and symptoms. These constructs are related to better emotional regulation strategies, a greater perception of control over one’s life, and better mental health in general. Adjustment disorder (AjD) is a prevalent condition defined as the failure to adapt to a stressful event. Objective This study presents secondary analysis data on the effect of an Internet-delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy intervention (iCBT) for AjD on meaning in life and capacity for enjoyment, compared to a control group. Method The sample consisted of 68 participants with AjD. 34 in the iCBT condition and 34 in the control group). Meaning in life was assessed by the Purpose-in-Life Test-10, and the Environmental Rewards Observation Scale was used to assess the capacity for enjoyment. The iCBT intervention focused on acceptance and processing of the stressful event. Intent-to-treat mixed-model analyses without any ad hoc imputations and using Cohen’s d effect comparisons were conducted. Results The results revealed a significant main effect of time and a significant group x time interaction in all the measures. Significantly higher pre-post score differences were found in the treatment condition. Discussion Meaning in life and capacity for enjoyment can change after an iCBT intervention for AjD. Therapeutic implications of the results and future lines of research about the role of meaning in life in AjD are discussed.
... Additionally, research has yet to examine the impact of social media use on MIL. MIL is a key aspect of psychological well-being and is associated with a multitude of health benefits (see King et al., 2016 for a review), and while adverse experiences lower perceptions of MIL, finding meaning during such times predicts better well-being (Edwards & Van Tongeren, 2019). During a pandemic, maintaining a sense of MIL can be important for protecting against psychological consequences from the pandemic (Lin, 2021). ...
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Stay-at-home orders issued to combat the growing number of infections during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 had many psychological consequences for people including elevated stress, anxiety, and difficulty maintaining meaning in their lives. The present studies utilized cross-sectional designs and were conducted to better understand how social media usage related to people’s subjective isolation (i.e., social loneliness, emotional loneliness, and existential isolation) and meaning in life (MIL) during the early months of the pandemic within the United States. Study 1 found that general social media use indirectly predicted higher MIL via lower existential isolation and social isolation. Study 2 replicated these patterns and found that social media use also predicted lower MIL via higher emotional loneliness, and that the aforementioned effects occurred with active, but not passive, social media use. Findings suggest social media use may be a viable means to validate one’s experiences (i.e., reduce existential isolation) during the pandemic but may also lead to intensified feelings concerning missing others (i.e., increased emotional loneliness). This research also helps to identify potential divergent effects of social media on MIL and helps to clarify the relationships among varying types of subjective isolation.
... For years, MIL was considered to "exist in the eye of the beholder", and studies often broadly asked people if they felt their life had meaning and purpose (e.g., Steger, et al., 2006). However, more recent definitions specify that meaning involves believing that life has a direction (or purpose), is coherent (it makes sense), and is significant (it matters; George & Park, 2016;King et al., 2016;Martela & Steger, 2016). This tripartite view provides researchers and participants alike with a clearer understanding of what it means to have MIL. ...
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Over the past decade, support for the relationship between mindfulness and happiness has increased dramatically. The consensus is that people who are mindful also experience greater happiness. However, little is still known about how and why greater mindfulness leads one to be happier. The current research calls on recent theorizing to help understand the process by which this occurs. In particular, we studied the indirect effects of both self-connection and meaning in life on the relationship between mindfulness and subjective well-being. To this end, we compiled data collected in our lab over the past 3 years. A total of 2,929 participants provided cross-sectional data while 465 participated in longitudinal studies. Across both samples, the data supported our proposed model. Self-connection and meaning in life combined to mediate the relationship between mindfulness and the various aspects of subjective well-being. In all, it is clear that, although mindfulness is important, self-connection and meaning in life play key roles in one’s subjective well-being. This suggests that more research and interventions should focus on ways to increase self-connection and meaning in life as ways to help people experience greater happiness.
... A number of theoretical perspectives have asserted that humans have a strong need to attain and maintain a sense of meaning in life (e.g., Frankl, 1959;Yalom, 1980;Ryff & Singer, 1998). Meaning in life reflects the sense that one's existence and life experience is coherent, significant, and purposeful (King, Heintzelman, & Ward, 2016). Numerous studies have documented that meaning in life is an important component of overall psychological wellbeing (Heintzelman & King, 2014;Steger & Frazier, 2005). ...
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Entrepreneurs play a vital role in creating and sustaining the type of dynamic and competitive marketplace that supports consumer satisfaction and broader wellbeing. However, wellbeing may also play an important role in promoting a culture of entrepreneurship. In the current study (N = 1,269), we focus specifically on existential wellbeing and explore the potential for existential wellbeing to positively influence attitudes about entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship involves agentic, goal-direction action. Meaning in life is an indicator of existential wellbeing and has been shown to support agentic thinking and goal-pursuit. Thus, meaning in life may promote the type of agentic mindset that encourages people to have positive attitudes about the role of entrepreneurs in society. We tested this proposal by measuring perceptions of meaning in life, feelings of agency associated with meaning (existential agency), and attitudes about entrepreneurs. We found support for a model linking meaning in life to positive attitudes about entrepreneurs via existential agency.
... This may suggest the relevance of casual and enjoyable leisure to student's ikigai. Although ikigai is primarily associated with eudaimonic characteristics (Kumano 2018), research suggests that hedonic and eudaimonic dimensions of wellbeing are interrelated; indeed, positive affectthe central quality of hedonic pursuitis a robust predictor of MIL (King, Heintzelman, and Ward 2016; see also Ebersole 1998;Fegg et al. 2008;Reker 1996). Leisure studies have also found that meaning and EWB follow enjoyable leisure experiences (e.g. ...
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Many studies have examined the relationships between leisure and subjective well-being. However, eudaimonic (e.g. meaning) and non-Western perspectives are lacking. Moreover, comparing leisure with other life domains could clarify leisure's unique roles in the pursuit of well-being. This study explores leisure's relationships with ikigai, a Japanese eudaimonic well-being concept. A purposeful sample of 27 Japanese university students provided 247 pictures of ikigai which they categorized into leisure and non-leisure groups. Photographic data were analysed via content analysis. The majority of ikigai pictures were associated with leisure. Compared with non-leisure pictures, leisure photographs were more frequently coded with 'hobby/ leisure' and 'nature', while less frequently coded with 'relationships', 'organizational activities', 'education', and 'values'. Leisure's unique roles in student's pursuit of ikigai relate to providing casual and enjoyable experiences, private time and space, and nature-based experiences. Our findings are discussed in relation to leisure studies, ikigai studies, and research on meaning in life. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Hedonic and eudemonic well-being are strongly correlated with each other (Disabato et al., 2016;Joshanloo, 2016;Linley et al., 2009;Longo et al., 2016) and may have a bidirectional causal relationship. Leading a meaningful life, for example, can be a source of positive emotions, but positive emotions can also make life feel more meaningful (King et al., 2016). In sum, one need not choose between hedonic and eudemonic well-being, and strongly favoring one or the other might be a philosophical rather than empirical matter. ...
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Research on well-being has exploded in recent years, with over 55,000 relevant publications annually, making it difficult for psychologists—including key communicators such as textbook authors—to stay current with this field. Moreover, well-being is a daily concern among policymakers and members of the general public. It is relevant to the lives of students—illustrating the diverse methods used in the behavioral sciences, presenting highly-replicated findings, and demonstrating the diversity of individuals and cultures. Therefore, five experts present eight major findings that teachers and authors should seriously consider in their coverage of this field. These topics range from processes such as adaptation, to influences such as income, to the benefits of well-being, to cultural and societal diversity in well-being and its causes. We also examined how much these topics were covered in fifteen of the most popular introductory psychology textbooks. Although some topics such as social relationships and well-being were discussed in nearly all textbooks, others were less frequently covered including the validity of self-reported well-being, the effects of spending on happiness, and the impact of culture and society on well-being. We aim to ensure more complete coverage of this important area in psychology courses.
... Stability was something that the youths continuously sought in their turbulent existence. Youths described needing a single purpose they could work towards; secure employment would give a sense of coherence in their lives (part of King et al.'s (2016) definition of meaningfulness). ...
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Experiencing meaningfulness at work is important for employee engagement, individual performance, and personal fulfilment. However, research surrounding meaningful employment has predominantly focused upon the experiences of well-educated, adult professionals. To expand theoretical understanding of this concept, this paper investigates perceptions of meaningful employment among youths from Northern England (aged 16–18) with a history of involvement in crime. Interviews demonstrate that young offenders’ criteria for ‘meaningful work’ differ from existing research and is influenced by their self-concept and inherent values as youths from chaotic and impoverished backgrounds. This highlights the subjectivity of this concept. Nonetheless, the findings also indicate that there are instances where work itself makes a broader contribution in discovering meaning, and therefore, certain organisational practices are experienced as meaningful by both young offenders and adult professionals. Thus, this study demonstrates the importance of surveying diverse populations to reach a more comprehensive understanding of meaningful employment.
... Philosophical perspectives have long held that a sense of meaning in life is an important aspect of well-being (see Ryff & Singer, 2008). In recent decades, empirical research conducted in many different populations has demonstrated that a sense of meaning in life is consistently and positively associated with a wide range of mental and physical health indicators (Czekierda et al., 2017;King et al., 2016;Steger et al., 2009). While much of this work has focused on inverse relations between meaning and negative aspects of well-being (e.g., suicidality; Marco et al., 2016), some of this research has also demonstrated favorable associations between meaning and positive aspects of well-being (e.g., happiness; Cavazos Vela et al., 2015). ...
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Research consistently links U.S. military veterans’ meaning in life to better mental health and well-being. Yet, because meaning in life is usually studied as a precursor of other aspects of wellbeing, much remains to be learned about veterans’ meaning in life itself. Two key questions are (1) how well do veterans maintain a sense of meaning in life over time? and (2) what determines their sense of meaning in life over time? We sought to answer these questions across a one-year period in a sample of 542 Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation New Dawn veterans following military service. Three distinct meaning trajectories were identified: (1) moderately high and stable, (2) low and increasing, and (3) low and decreasing, with group membership approximately 79%, 16% and 5%, respectively. Predictors of trajectory membership included demographic factors (i.e., gender and race), deployment experiences (i.e., combat exposure and aftermath, unit support, and meaningful engagement) and post-deployment resources (i.e., social support and religiousness). These results suggest that a substantial minority of veterans experience low and even declining meaning in life that may substantially impair their quality of life and well-being. Suggestions for identifying veterans vulnerable to low levels of life meaning and for interventions to increase meaning are provided.
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This paper introduces the notion of a “psychologically rich life”: a life characterized by complexity, in which people experience a variety of interesting things, and feel and appreciate a variety of deep emotions via firsthand experiences or vicarious experiences. A psychologically rich life can be contrasted with a boring and monotonous life, in which one feels a singular emotion or feels that their lives are defined by routines that just aren’t that interesting. Our discussion considers how it is that the psychologically rich life compares to other leading theories of the good life discussed within both philosophy and psychology, and it argues that a psychologically rich life ought to be recognized as a distinct and compelling form of the good life.
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How do intraindividual changes in wisdom-related characteristics of cognitive broadening—open-minded reflection on challenging situations, consideration of change, and epistemic humility—relate to subjective well-being over time? To test this relationship, we performed cross-lagged panel analyses from three waves of the national U.S. sample taken across 20 years, utilizing a cross-validation approach: (i) conduct exploratory analyses on a random subset of data, (ii) preregister hypotheses and methods, and (iii) cross-validate preregistered hypotheses on the other random subset of the data. We found that broadening attitudes predicted greater affect balance and life satisfaction in later years, but not vice-versa. The effect was robust when controlling for trait-level broadening well-being associations, as well as sociodemographic characteristics, openness, and general cognitive abilities. The direction of the positive longitudinal relationship between broadening attitudes and subjective well-being has implications for major existing theories of adult development and subjective well-being.
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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 technology as both creating challenges and providing supports for meaning. Study 2 (N=1,719) showed cross-country variation in levels of and beliefs about meaning across eight countries. However, social relationships and happiness were identified as the strongest sources of meaning in life consistently across countries. We discuss the value of lay beliefs for understanding meaning in life both within and across cultures.
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Past research finds that individual differences in the need for meaning are positively associated with religiosity and spirituality. In the present study, we sought to expand on past research by examining the relationship between the need for meaning and both traditional religiosity and paranormal beliefs. Does the need for meaning predict paranormal beliefs when controlling for other predictors? We observed that the need for meaning uniquely predicts both religiosity and paranormal beliefs. Considering that traditional religious beliefs and affiliations are in decline in the United States and paranormal beliefs may be increasing, these results have potentially important implications for health and well-being.
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İnsanlar yaşamlarının önemli bir kısmını işyerlerinde geçirmektedirler ve bu durum onların fiziksel, zihinsel ve psikolojik olarak yıpranmalarına neden olmaktadır. Bu çalışmanın temel amacı, işörenlerin zihinsel ve psikolojik yıpranma algılarını belirlemek amacıyla İşgören Yıpranma Ölçeğini (İYÖ) geliştirmektir. Ölçeğin geliştirilmesi sürecinde önce Dünya Sağlık Örgütünün zihinsel ve psikolojik sağlık koşullarını esas alarak zihinsel ve psikolojik yıpranma durumlarına uygun “aday ölçek” madde havuzu oluşturulmuştur. Daha sonra ölçeğin kapsam geçerliği için uzman görüşüne başvurulmuştur. Kapsam geçerliği çalışmasından sonra taslak ölçeğin pilot çalışması imalat işletmelerinde çalışan 145 işgörenin katılımıyla gerçekleştirilmiştir. Aday ölçek ile toplanan veriler önce Açımlayıcı Faktör Analizi (AFA) ile analiz edilmiştir. Açımlayıcı Faktör Analizi sonucunda ölçeğin dört faktörlü yapısı tespit edilmiştir. Ölçeğin ana uygulaması aynı örneklemin genişletilmesiyle tabakalı örnekleme yöntemiyle belirlenen 334 işgörenin katılımıyla gerçekleştirilmiştir. Ana uygulamada İşgören Yıpranma Ölçeğinin geçerliği Doğrulayıcı Faktör Analizi (DFA), güvenirliği Cronbach alfa katsayısı ile belirlenmiştir. Doğrulayıcı Faktör Analizi sonuçları pilot çalışma aşamasında geliştirilen dört boyutlu İşgören Yıpranma Ölçeğinin yapısını doğrulamıştır. Yapılan geçerlilik ve güvenirlik analizi sonuçları geliştirilen ölçeğin güvenilir ve geçerli bir veri toplama aracı olduğu sonucuna ulaşılmıştır.
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Meaning in life is a fundamental human need and recent research has begun to explore how individual differences in the need for meaning relate to beliefs and behaviors, particularly those involving religion and spirituality. In the present studies, we expanded on recent research to examine the relation between the need for meaning and community-focused motivation and behavior. In Study 1 (N = 399), we explored the relation between need for meaning and a wide range of aspirations, finding that this need is associated with intrinsic, but not extrinsic, goals and especially community-focused goals. In Study 2 (N = 611), we tested the effects of need for meaning on indicators of community-focused prosocial motivation and behavior, controlling for religiosity and other variables. The need for meaning positively predicted most indicators of prosocial motivation and behavior. These findings, combined with previous research, suggest that the meaning motive orients people towards community.
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The aim of the study was to investigate the interplay between loneliness and mindfulness in predicting presence of meaning (POM), taking into consideration the additional role of search for meaning (SFM). A sample of 415 participants from Poland, aged 18 to 55 (M = 27.88, SD = 8.66), completed a set of three questionnaires: the De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale, the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale, and the Meaning in Life Questionnaire. Our results indicate that mindfulness partially mediated the relationship between loneliness and POM. This effect was moderated by SFM. Specifically, an indirect effect was found in the participants with medium and high levels of search for meaning but not in the participants with a low level of this variable. It also turned out that SFM enhanced the relationship between mindfulness and POM. These results are discussed in the context of the evolutionary theory of loneliness, the meaning-making mechanisms of mindfulness, and the schema-like properties of SFM.
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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, noting its placement within the broader well-being literature and dispelling common myths about its rarity in people’s lives. After highlighting the myriad benefits of meaning for individuals and organizations, we describe several established sources of meaning in life and their relevance to work. We then examine how work orientations and social demographic factors influence the propensity to seek meaning through work. We conclude with a discussion of future research directions that can better illuminate the predictors and functions of meaningfulness at work.
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Cite: Hughes, P., & Lomas, T. (2021). ‘How do young men experience meaning in life?’ European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 5, 13, 1-13. Background: Despite indications that the presence of meaning in life is associated with potential benefits for common crises men face, few meaning in life studies examine this population, and a lack of qualitative meaning in life research in general exacerbates the concept’s “definitional ambiguity”. Objectives: This study seeks to address these imbalances by examining how those young men who do feel a sense of meaning report its development, with the aim of identifying themes which may highlight protective factors for young men’s mental health. Methods: We use interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore semi-structured interviews from four British men aged 18-24, following purposive sampling of 129 survey respondents. Results: Participants describe a journey to meaning through three themes; (1) engagement in an active searching process, (2) seeking authentic significance, and (3) the application of the felt effects of meaning in life toward goal formation and as a buffer against stressors. Discussion: This paper provides a unique ideographic insight into the development of meaning in life for young men which contributes to the ongoing discussion on the concept’s definition and asset-based responses to the common crises of masculinity. Conclusion: Our research explores young men’s experience of meaning in life as part of their identity development. Limitations and suggestions for future research are provided. Keywords: meaning in life, life purpose, youth, masculinity, gender, phenomenology
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The aim of the research was to examine the moderating role of search for meaning in the relationship between loneliness and presence of meaning. The authors hypothesized that loneliness would be negatively associated with presence of meaning and that with an increase in search for meaning this relationship would weaken. To test these predictions adults from Poland were invited to participate in three cross-sectional studies: one paper-and-pencil study (Study 1, N = 563) and two online studies (Study 2, N = 306; Study 2, N = 206). In Studies 1 and 2 the moderating effect of search for meaning manifested itself in the case of general loneliness, and in Study 3 in the case of each of the three domains of loneliness (i.e., social, romantic, and family). The studies add to the large body of research on the interpersonal sources of meaning in life and provide preliminary evidence of the moderating role of motivation to seek meaning in the relationship between loneliness and presence of meaning. The results suggest that actively striving to augment one's sense of meaning may prevent the loss of meaning as a result of subjectively perceived social isolation.
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Introduction: Considering the importance of meaning of life and its role in mental health, the purpose of the current study is to examine the psychometric properties of LAP-R, an instrument that measures the meaning of life on the extensive components. Method: 500 students from different levels of education of Shahed University of Tehran were selected by proportional sampling method and after translating and retranslating of LAP-R, responded to LAP-R with the Spirituality Assessment Inventory (SAI), the Self-Esteem Rating Scale- Short Form (SERS-SF) and the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS). After performing the questionnaires, the results of validity and reliability of LAP-R were analyzed by statistical analysis. Result: As the results of current study showed, there was a high correlation between many subscales of LAP-R with SAI, SERF-SF and PANAS. Also, the Cronbach's alpha coefficient and the correlation between the test-retest of LAP-R was appropriate (P<0.01). The correlation of the test-retest of this scale ranged from 0.61 to 0.81(P<0.01). Also, Cronbach’s alpha coefficients of the subscales and the overall score of this scale ranged from 0.65 to 0.86. Declaration of Interest: None Conclusion: Considering the appropriate correlation of LAP-R with other scales as well as the results of test-retest correlation and Cronbach`s alpha, it can be said that this questionnaire has appropriate validity and reliability.
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Existential nihilism is on the rise in modern societies, but no previous work has investigated the social psychology of seeing no meaning in life. In the current research, five studies (N = 1,634) show that targets' existential nihilist beliefs elicit a range of negative stereotypes about personality traits, commonly valued social traits, and targets' ability to perform basic adaptive social tasks. Results demonstrate that these negative stereotypes are mediated by belief that the target is depressed more than the belief the target is non-religious or that the target does not plan for the future. Unlike atheists, who are seen as competent, no positive stereotypes emerged for nihilists, suggesting both future research and interventions aimed at updating false beliefs about nihilists.
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The aim of the present study is to investigate the effectiveness of Cognitive Developmental Hypnotherapy (CDH) on Differentiation of Self, Meaning in Life and Marital Conflicts in married women. The method is quasi-experimental pretest and posttest with a control group. The statistical population of this study includes married women who came to FUM Counseling and Psychological Services Center to receive psychological services. The sample of this study included 40 married women who were selected by targeted sampling method and randomly assigned to two experimental and control groups. Participants in the pretest and posttest study answered the Differentiation of Self Inventory, the Marital Conflicts questionnaire by Sanaei, and the Meaning in Life questionnaire. The research data were analyzed using ANCOVA and MANCOVA with SPSS-21. The findings showed CDH led to an increase in Differentiation of Self and Meaning in life, and a reduction in Marital Conflicts in women. Accordingly, CDH through using techniques such as induction and empowerment of the Ego is effective in marital conflicts of married women. Therefore, using it as a means to improve the quality of married women’s lives is recommended.
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This book provides an accessible and balanced introduction to positive psychology scholarship and its applications, incorporating an overview of the development of positive psychology. Positive Psychology: The Basics delineates positive psychology’s journey as a discipline, takes stock of its achievements and provides an updated overview of its core topics, exploring the theory, research and interventions in each. Launched as a rebellious discipline just over two decades ago, positive psychology challenged the emphasis of applied psychology on disease and dysfunction and offered a new, more balanced perspective on human life. From its foundations in the late 20th century to recent “second-wave” theories around the importance of recognizing negative emotions, this compact overview covers the key ideas and principles, from research around emotional wellbeing, optimism and change, to posttraumatic growth and positive relationships. The first jargon-free introduction to the subject, Hart introduces the reader to a range of issues, including self-regulation and flow, character strengths and virtues and positive relationships, concluding with a chapter on how interventions can affect happiness and wellbeing. Positive Psychology: The Basics is an essential resource for students, practitioners, academics and anyone who is interested in understanding the essence of a life well lived.
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Despite growing interest in meaning in life, many have voiced their concern over the conceptual refinement of the construct itself. Researchers seem to have two main ways to understand what meaning in life means: coherence and purpose, with a third way, significance, gaining increasing attention. Coherence means a sense of comprehensibility and one’s life making sense. Purpose means a sense of core goals, aims, and direction in life. Significance is about a sense of life’s inherent value and having a life worth living. Although some researchers have already noted this trichotomy, the present article provides the first comprehensible theoretical overview that aims to define and pinpoint the differences and connections between these three facets of meaning. By arguing that the time is ripe to move from indiscriminate understanding of meaning into looking at these three facets separately, the article points toward a new future for research on meaning in life.
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Theory and research on meaning has proliferated in recent years, focusing on both global meaning and processes of making meaning from difficult life events such as trauma and serious illness. However, the measurement of meaning constructs lags behind theoretical conceptualizations, hindering empirical progress. In this paper, we first delineate a meaning-making framework that integrates current theorizing about meaning and meaning making. From the vantage of this framework, we then describe and evaluate current approaches to assessing meaning-related phenomena, including global meaning and situational meaning constructs. We conclude with suggestions for an integrative approach to assessing meaning-related constructs in future research.
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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-being, compared to controls. In Studies 2 and 3 (N’s = 111, 121), control participants endorsed higher levels of well-being compared to those attached to a bogus pipeline. These differences were mediated by desirability bias. In Study 4 (N = 417), instruction manipulations did not affect well-being levels, but presenting a desirability measure prior to well-being measures attenuated the correlations between them. In Study 5 (N = 391), however, this order effect did not replicate. We discuss the importance of continued vigilance for desirability bias in well-being research as a ready solution to this clear problem remains elusive.
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Having a purpose in life has been cited consistently as an indicator of healthy aging for several reasons, including its potential for reducing mortality risk. In the current study, we sought to extend previous findings by examining whether purpose in life promotes longevity across the adult years, using data from the longitudinal Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) sample. Proportional-hazards models demonstrated that purposeful individuals lived longer than their counterparts did during the 14 years after the baseline assessment, even when controlling for other markers of psychological and affective well-being. Moreover, these longevity benefits did not appear to be conditional on the participants' age, how long they lived during the follow-up period, or whether they had retired from the workforce. In other words, having a purpose in life appears to widely buffer against mortality risk across the adult years.
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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 the environment, information that is not provided by affect. We review research demonstrating that manipulations of stimulus coherence influence subjective reports of meaning in life but not affect. We demonstrate that manipulations that foster an associative mindset enhance meaning. The meaning-as-information perspective embeds meaning in a network of foundational functions including associative learning, perception, cognition, and neural processing. This approach challenges assumptions about meaning, including its motivational appeal, the roles of expectancies and novelty in this experience, and the notion that meaning is inherently constructed. Implications for constructed meaning and existential meanings are discussed.
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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. Examining the growing literature on meaning in life, we address the question, "How meaningful is life, in general?" We review possible answers from various psychological sources, some of which anticipate that meaning in life should be low, and others high. Summaries of epidemiological data and research using two self-report measures of meaning in life suggest that life is pretty meaningful. Diverse samples rate themselves significantly above the midpoint on self-reports of meaning in life. We suggest that if meaning in life plays a role in adaptation, it must be commonplace, as our analysis suggests.
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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 reports of meaning in life. In Studies 1 and 2 (combined N = 214), adults rated photographs of trees presented in patterns (organized around their seasonal content) or randomly. Participants in the pattern conditions reported higher meaning in life than those in the random conditions. Studies 3 and 4 (combined N = 229) yielded similar results when participants read coherent, as opposed to incoherent, linguistic triads. The manipulations did not influence explicit or implicit affect. Implications for understanding the human experience of meaning, the processes that support that experience, and its potential role in adaptation are discussed.
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Any action can be identified in myriad ways, from a sequence of movements to the expression of goals, values, and self-concepts. Despite the uncertainty of action, people routinely identify their actions at a level that both enables effective performance and provides a foundation for higher-level meaning. Action identification theory holds that this is possible because of the interplay of two principles-one reflecting a desire for higher-level action understanding, the other reflecting the need to focus on lower-level details in order to perform the action. Over time and experience, the tension between these principles establishes an optimal level of identification-high level enough to provide meaning but low level enough to provide the details necessary for action implementation. Action experience and factors in the action context can upset this dynamic equilibrium, promoting recalibration of the optimal identification level. Meaning in life is thus not a static state, but rather a dynamic process. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. All rights reserved.
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Objective: To determine whether purpose in life is associated with reduced stroke incidence among older adults after adjusting for relevant sociodemographic, behavioral, biological, and psychosocial factors. Methods: We used prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50. 6739 adults who were stroke-free at baseline were examined. A multiple imputation technique was used to account for missing data. Purpose in life was measured using a validated adaptation of Ryff and Keyes' Scales of Psychological Well-Being. After controlling for a comprehensive list of covariates, we assessed the odds of stroke incidence over a four-year period. We used psychological and covariate data collected in 2006, along with occurrences of stroke reported in 2008, 2010, and during exit interviews. Covariates included sociodemographic factors (age, gender, race/ethnicity, marital status, education level, total wealth, functional status), health behaviors (smoking, exercise, alcohol use), biological factors (hypertension, diabetes, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, BMI, heart disease), negative psychological factors (depression, anxiety, cynical hostility, negative affect), and positive psychological factors (optimism, positive affect, and social participation). Results: Greater baseline purpose in life was associated with a reduced likelihood of stroke during the four-year follow-up. In a model that adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, marital status, education level, total wealth, and functional status, each standard deviation increase in purpose was associated with a multivariate-adjusted odds ratio of 0.78 for stroke (95% CI, 0.67-0.91, p=.002). Purpose remained significantly associated with a reduced likelihood of stroke after adjusting for several additional covariates including: health behaviors, biological factors, and psychological factors. Conclusion: Among older American adults, greater purpose in life is linked with a lower risk of stroke.
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Research indicates that meaning in life is an important correlate of health and well-being. However, relatively little is known about the way a sense of meaning may change over time. The purpose of this study is to explore two ways of assessing change in meaning within a second-order confirmatory factor analysis framework. First, tests are conducted to see if the first and second-order factor loadings and measurement error terms are invariant over time. Second, a largely overlooked technique is used to assess change and stability in meaning at the second-order level. Findings from a nationwide survey reveal that the first and second-order factor loadings are invariant of time. Moreover, the second-order measurement error terms, but not the first-order measurement error terms, are invariant, as well. The results further reveal that standard ways of assessing stability mask significant change in meaning that is due largely to regression to the mean.
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The endorsement and deployment of character strengths in occupational contexts are two promising components for understanding how people create well-being. In this study, a model integrating character strengths, satisfaction with occupational activities, and meaning and well-being was proposed and tested in two samples of volunteers and a sample of working adults. The model fit the data well in all three samples. Results demonstrated that deploying strengths at work provided key links to satisfaction with voluntary and paid occupational activities and to meaning among both young and middle-aged volunteers, and adult working women. Among adult volunteers and paid workers, endorsing strengths was related to meaning, while both endorsing and deploying strengths were related to well-being. Together, these studies provide a model for understanding how strengths may play a role in how both volunteer and paid workers find meaning, well-being, and satisfaction.
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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 used to judge MIL. Participants (N = 103) completed measures of positive affect (PA), religious commitment, and the satisfaction of the needs for competency, autonomy, and relatedness and then were randomly assigned to complete a measure of MIL rapidly, thoughtfully, or using typical instructions. Results showed that condition moderated reliance on PA, autonomy and social relatedness need satisfaction: PA was a stronger predictor of MIL in the thoughtful condition while autonomy and relatedness were more strongly related to MIL in the rapid condition. Implications for our understanding of MIL and future directions are discussed.
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Meaning in life has been identified as a potential mediator of the link between religiousness and psychological health. The authors tested this hypothesis in 2 studies, using multiple methods and measures of religiousness and well-being. In the studies, meaning in life mediated the relation between religiousness and life satisfaction (Study 1A), as well as self-esteem and optimism (Study 1B). In addition, using an experience sampling method, the authors found that meaning in life also mediated the relation between daily religious behaviors and well-being (Study 2). The authors discuss these findings and suggest that meaning in life may be an effective conduit through which counselors and clients can discuss "ultimate" matters, even when they do not share similar perspectives on religion. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Counseling psychologists often work with clients to increase their well-being as well as to decrease their distress. One important aspect of well-being, highlighted particularly in humanistic theories of the counseling process, is perceived meaning in life. However, poor measurement has hampered research on meaning in life. In 3 studies, evidence is provided for the internal consistency, temporal stability, factor structure, and validity of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ), a new 10-item measure of the presence of, and the search for, meaning in life. A multitrait-multimethod matrix demonstrates the convergent and discriminant validity of the MLQ subscales across time and informants, in comparison with 2 other meaning scales. The MLQ offers several improvements over current meaning in life measures, including no item overlap with distress measures, a stable factor structure, better discriminant validity, a briefer format, and the ability to measure the search for meaning.
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This article explores how religion, as a meaning system, influences coping with adversity. First, a model emphasizing the role of meaning making in coping is presented. Next, religion as a meaning system is defined, and theory and research on the role of religion in the coping process are summarized. Results from the author's study of 169 bereaved college students are then presented to illustrate some of the pathways through which religious meaning can influence the coping process in making meaning following loss. Findings indicate that associations between religion and adjustment vary across time since loss, and that these associations are mediated by meaning-making coping. Finally, implications for individual and societal well-being and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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Discusses what people infer from their feelings and presents an overview of feelings-as-information theory based on work conducted up to the end of 1987. For more recent reviews see Schwarz & Clore 1996, 2007 in Higgins & Kruglanski's "Social psychology" (1st and 2nd edition) and Schwarz 2012 in "Handbook of theories in social psychology" --all available on ResearchGate.
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This study examined whether purpose in life was associated with myocardial infarction among a sample of older adults with coronary heart disease after adjusting for relevant sociodemographic, behavioral, biological, and psychological factors. Prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study-a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50-were used. Analyses were conducted on the subset of 1,546 individuals who had coronary heart disease at baseline. Greater baseline purpose in life was associated with lower odds of having a myocardial infarction during the 2-year follow-up period. On a six-point purpose in life measure, each unit increase was associated with a multivariate-adjusted odds ratio of 0.73 for myocardial infarction (95% CI, 0.57-0.93, P = .01). The association remained significant after controlling for coronary heart disease severity, self-rated health, and a comprehensive set of possible confounds. Higher purpose in life may play an important role in protecting against myocardial infarction among older American adults with coronary heart disease.
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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 needs satisfaction (RNS), and MIL were obtained every 5 days over 20 days. Multilevel modeling showed that on days when RNS was low, PA was strongly related to MIL. Results suggest the dynamic ways that social relationships and PA inform judgments of MIL. Informational and motivational accounts of these results are discussed.
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Emerging data suggest that psychological and experiential factors are associated with risk of Alzheimer disease (AD), but the association of purpose in life with incident AD is unknown. To test the hypothesis that greater purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk of AD. Prospective, longitudinal epidemiologic study of aging. Senior housing facilities and residences across the greater Chicago metropolitan area. More than 900 community-dwelling older persons without dementia from the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Participants underwent baseline evaluations of purpose in life and up to 7 years of detailed annual follow-up clinical evaluations to document incident AD. In subsequent analyses, we examined the association of purpose in life with the precursor to AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and the rate of change in cognitive function. During up to 7 years of follow-up (mean, 4.0 years), 155 of 951 persons (16.3%) developed AD. In a proportional hazards model adjusted for age, sex, and education, greater purpose in life was associated with a substantially reduced risk of AD (hazard ratio, 0.48; 95% confidence interval, 0.33-0.69; P < .001). Thus, a person with a high score on the purpose in life measure (score = 4.2, 90th percentile) was approximately 2.4 times more likely to remain free of AD than was a person with a low score (score = 3.0, 10th percentile). This association did not vary along demographic lines and persisted after the addition of terms for depressive symptoms, neuroticism, social network size, and number of chronic medical conditions. In subsequent models, purpose in life also was associated with a reduced risk of MCI (hazard ratio, 0.71; 95% confidence interval, 0.53-0.95; P = .02) and a slower rate of cognitive decline (mean [SE] global cognition estimate, 0.03 [0.01], P < .01). Greater purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk of AD and MCI in community-dwelling older persons.
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Interest in meaning and meaning making in the context of stressful life events continues to grow, but research is hampered by conceptual and methodological limitations. Drawing on current theories, the author first presents an integrated model of meaning making. This model distinguishes between the constructs of global and situational meaning and between "meaning-making efforts" and "meaning made," and it elaborates subconstructs within these constructs. Using this model, the author reviews the empirical research regarding meaning in the context of adjustment to stressful events, outlining what has been established to date and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of current empirical work. Results suggest that theory on meaning and meaning making has developed apace, but empirical research has failed to keep up with these developments, creating a significant gap between the rich but abstract theories and empirical tests of them. Given current empirical findings, some aspects of the meaning-making model appear to be well supported but others are not, and the quality of meaning-making efforts and meanings made may be at least as important as their quantity. This article concludes with specific suggestions for future research.
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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 the PA experienced that day. Later, global MIL was predicted by average daily PA, rather than average daily MIL. Study 3 demonstrated no prospective relations between measures of MIL and PA over 2 years. In Study 4, priming positive mood concepts enhanced MIL. In Study 5, manipulated positive mood enhanced ratings of MIL for those who were not given an attributional cue for their moods. In Study 6, PA was associated with a high level of distinction between meaningful and meaningless activities. Results indicate that positive moods may predispose individuals to feel that life is meaningful. In addition, positive moods may increase sensitivity to the meaning-relevance of a situation.
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The meaning maintenance model (MMM) proposes that people have a need for meaning; that is, a need to perceive events through a prism of mental representations of expected relations that organizes their perceptions of the world. When people's sense of meaning is threatened, they reaffirm alternative representations as a way to regain meaning-a process termed fluid compensation. According to the model, people can reaffirm meaning in domains that are different from the domain in which the threat occurred. Evidence for fluid compensation can be observed following a variety of psychological threats, including most especially threats to the self, such as self-esteem threats, feelings of uncertainty, interpersonal rejection, and mortality salience. People respond to these diverse threats in highly similar ways, which suggests that a range of psychological motivations are expressions of a singular impulse to generate and maintain a sense of meaning.
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 on MIL. At high levels of PA, income was unrelated to MIL, but at low PA, income was positively associated with MIL. Study 2 (N = 203) provided experimental support for the interaction between income and PA interaction using a PA induction. Although income predicted MIL in the control condition, it was unrelated to MIL following a PA induction. Study 3 (N = 277) demonstrated that people forecast their future lives will be more meaningful if they are wealthy versus poor, which was especially true among people who expect to be unhappy.
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 cognition. Two experiments manipulated processing style. In Study 4 (N = 614), participants were randomly assigned to complete the Cognitive Reflection Task (CRT; Fredrick, 2005) either immediately before (reflective/low intuitive mindset condition) or immediately after (control condition) rating MIL. Condition did not affect MIL. However, low MIL rated before the CRT predicted superior performance and greater time spent on the task. The association between reflection and MIL was curvilinear, such that MIL was strongly negatively related to CRT performance particularly at low levels of MIL. In Study 5 (N = 804), intuitive or reflective mindsets were induced and FI and MIL were measured. Induced processing style study did not affect MIL. However, those high in MIL were more responsive to the intuitive mindset induction. The relationship between FI and MIL was curvilinear (in this and the correlational studies), with intuitive processing being strongly positively related to MIL particularly at higher levels of MIL. Although often considered in the context of conscious reflection, MIL shares a positive relationship with reliance on gut feelings, and high MIL may facilitate reliance on those feelings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
A recurring observation of experimental psychologists is that people prefer, seek out, and even selectively "see" structure in their social and natural environments. Structure-seeking has been observed across a wide range of phenomena-from the detection of patterns in random arrays to affinities for order-providing political, religious, social, and scientific worldviews-and is exacerbated under psychological threat. Why are people motivated for structure? An intriguing, but untested, explanation holds that perceiving structure, even in domains unrelated to one's current behavioral context, can facilitate willingness to take goal-directed actions. Supporting this, in 5 studies, reminders of structure in nature or society increase willingness to engage in goal pursuit. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
In four methodologically diverse studies (N = 644), we found correlational (Study 1), longitudinal (Study 2), and experimental (Studies 3 and 4) evidence that a sense of belonging predicts how meaningful life is perceived to be. In Study 1 (n = 126), we found a strong positive correlation between sense of belonging and meaningfulness. In Study 2 (n = 248), we found that initial levels of sense of belonging predicted perceived meaningfulness of life, obtained 3 weeks later. Furthermore, initial sense of belonging predicted independent evaluations of participants essays on meaning in life. In Studies 3 (n = 105) and 4 (n = 165), we primed participants with belongingness, social support, or social value and found that those primed with belongingness (Study 3) or who increased in belongingness (Study 4) reported the highest levels of perceived meaning. In Study 4, belonging mediated the relationship between experimental condition and meaning.
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. In Study 1, Sample 2, religiosity similarly moderated the effects of induced mood on meaning in life. In addition, this pattern of results was shown to be unique to meaning in life compared to another life domain (life satisfaction). In Study 2, subliminally priming Christians with positive religious words (e.g., “Heaven”) was further shown to weaken the association between PA and meaning in life, whereas subliminal primes of negative religious words (e.g., “hell”) weakened the association between religious commitment and meaning in life. A competition of cues model is proposed to account for these effects.
Article
The authors report on data indicating that having a strong sense of meaning in life makes people more appealing social interactants. In Study 1, participants were videotaped while conversing with a friend, and the interactions were subsequently rated by independent evaluators. Participants who had reported a strong sense of meaning in life were rated as desirable friends. In Study 2, participants made 10-s videotaped introductions of themselves that were subsequently evaluated by independent raters. Those who reported a strong sense of meaning in life were rated as more likeable, better potential friends, and more desirable conversation partners. The effect of meaning in life was beyond that of several other variables, including self-esteem, happiness, extraversion, and agreeableness. Study 2 also found an interaction between physical attractiveness and meaning in life, with more meaning in life contributing to greater interpersonal appeal for those of low and average physical attractiveness.
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 (RNS) and PA each shared strong independent links to meaning in life. In Study 2 (N = 63), loneliness moderated the effects of a positive mood induction on meaning in life ratings. In Study 3 (N = 65), priming positive social relationships reduced the contribution of PA to subsequent judgments of meaning in life. In Study 4 (N = 95), relationship primes decreased reliance on PA and increased reliance on RNS compared to dessert primes. Results are discussed in terms of the value of integrating judgment processes in studies of meaning in life.
Article
In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supported testing of a number of well-being scales for potential use on public health surveillance systems. The purpose of this study was to examine the descriptive and psychometric properties of the scales (i.e. Satisfaction with Life, Meaning in Life, Positive and Negative Affect, Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness, and global and domain-specific life satisfaction) and to examine the distribution of well-being levels in a representative sample of community-dwelling US adults (N = 5,399) using a stratified analysis. The scales demonstrated acceptable psychometric properties. Responses were negatively skewed, with most respondents reporting mildly positive levels of subjective well-being. With the exception of autonomy, competence, and relatedness scales, all scales demonstrated good variability across socio-demographic subgroups. Older age and higher levels of education, and income, were associated with higher levels of subjective well-being. Most of the examined scales and related items merit consideration for continued testing in telephone surveys used in public health surveillance.
Article
Five studies demonstrated the role of family relationships as an important source of perceived meaning in life. In Study 1 (n ¼ 50), 68% participants reported that their families were the single most significant contributor to personal meaning. Study 2 (n ¼ 231) participants ranked family above 12 likely sources of meaning. Studies 3 (n ¼ 87) and 4 (n ¼ 130) demonstrated that participants' reports of their closeness to family (Study 3) and support from family (Study 4) predicted perceived meaning in life, even when controlling for several competing variables. Study 5 (n ¼ 261) ruled out social desirability as an alternative explanation to the proposed relationship between family and meaning. We conclude that for young adults, family relationships are a primary source of meaning in life and they contribute to their sense of meaning.
Article
Religion invests human existence with meaning by establishing goals and value systems that potentially pertain to all aspects of a persons' life. A goals approach provides a general unifying framework to capture the dynamic aspect of religion in people's lives. Empirical research on the measurement of spirituality and religion through personal goals is described. To illustrate the application of the goals framework, data from the author's research program on personal goals and quality of life in persons with neuromuscular diseases are described. Framing subjective quality-of-life outcomes in terms of goals can lead to new possibilities for understanding adaptation to physical disabilities and in particular, the understanding of the religious and spiritual dimensions of disability and rehabilitation.
Article
This study examined the role of purpose in life and satisfaction with life in protecting against suicide ideation in a clinical psychiatric sample. Forty-nine psychiatric patients completed self-report measures of suicide ideation, purpose in life, satisfaction with life, neuroticism, depression, and social hopelessness. Zero-order correlations indicated significant associations between suicide ideation and the various predictors, in the hypothesized directions. Regression analyses illustrated that purpose in life and satisfaction with life accounted for significant additional variability in suicide ideation scores above and beyond that accounted for by the negative psychological factors alone. Purpose in life also mediated the relation between satisfaction with life and suicide ideation and moderated the relation between depression and suicide ideation. These findings demonstrate the potential value of attending to both resilience and pathology when building predictive models of suicide ideation and of attending to key existential themes when assessing and treating suicidal individuals.
Article
Purpose in life is a defining feature of mental health. In old age, maintaining high levels of purpose in life may become more difficult, due to increasing losses (e.g., widowhood, retirement). Meta-analysis was used to synthesize findings from 70 studies on purpose in life in middle age and old age. We found a small age-associated decline of purpose in life, which was stronger in older age-groups. Purpose in life showed a strong association with social integration, and with relational quality in particular. In addition, high purpose in life was related to better health, higher everyday competence, higher socioeconomic status, being employed, and being married. Furthermore, strong associations with psychological well-being and low levels of depressive symptoms were found. We conclude that relying on sources that have low or even no age-associated decline, such as social integration and previous attainments, counteract strong declines of purpose in life in old age.
Article
A motivational analysis of suicidal terrorism is outlined, anchored in the notion of significance quest. It is suggested that heterogeneous factors identified as personal causes of suicidal terrorism (e.g. trauma, humiliation, social exclusion), the various ideological reasons assumed to justify it (e.g. liberation from foreign occupation, defense of one’s nation or religion), and the social pressures brought upon candidates for suicidal terrorism may be profitably subsumed within an integrative framework that explains diverse instances of suicidal terrorism as attempts at significance restoration, significance gain, and prevention of significance loss. Research and policy implications of the present analysis are considered.
Article
Previous research has demonstrated self-reports of lower levels of four fundamental needs as a result of short periods of face-to-face ostracism, as well as short periods of Internet ostracism (Cyberball), even when the ostracizing others are unseen, unknown, and not-to-be met. In an attempt to reduce the ostracism experience to a level that would no longer be aversive, we (in Study 1) convinced participants that they were playing Cyberball against a computer, yet still found comparable negative impact compared to when the participants thought they were being ostracized by real others. In Study 2, we took this a step further, and additionally manipulated whether the participants were told the computer or humans were scripted (or told) what to do in the game. Once again, even after removing all remnants of sinister attributions, ostracism was similarly aversive. We interpret these results as strong evidence for a very primitive and automatic adaptive sensitivity to even the slightest hint of social exclusion.
Article
The construct of "meaning in life" (MiL) has raised the interest of clinicians working in psycho-oncology and end-of-life care. It has become a topic of scientific investigation where diverse assessment approaches have been applied. Aims: We present a comprehensive systematic review of existing MiL assessment instruments. Electronic searches of articles published in English peer-reviewed journals were performed in Psycinfo, Medline, Embase and Cinahl. Instruments are appraised with regard to ten measurement properties. In total, 59 nomothetic and idiographic MiL instruments were identified. Most instruments were developed in North America and meet basic psychometric criteria. They assess presence of and search for MiL, crisis and sources of MiL, meaning making, meaningful activity, MiL in the context of illness, breadth, depth, and other structural indicators. These aspects are largely consistent with existing MiL definitions. Nine out of 59 instruments included cancer populations in test development. This overview of available instruments underscores the complexity of the construct and might assist researchers to select an appropriate instrument for their research needs. Finally, it points to the need for more integrative theorizing and research on MiL. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Dysfunctional social behavior has been implicated in the experience of depression. People with greater depressive symptoms report more frequent negative social interactions and react more strongly to them. It remains unknown, however, whether reaction strength differs depending on whether social interactions are positive or negative. Drawing on socio-evolutionary models of depression (N. B. Allen & P. B. T. Badcock, 2003), we proposed that people with greater depressive symptoms should not only react more strongly to negative social interactions but also to positive social interactions and a sense of belonging. Using non-clinical samples, two daily process studies examined the role of depression in people's reactivity to social interactions in natural, ongoing, social contexts. In Study 1, the number of positive and negative social events showed a stronger relation to well-being among people with greater depressive symptoms. Study 2 extended this finding to perceptions of belonging in memorable social interactions, finding a stronger link between belonging and well-being among people with greater depressive symptoms. Together these studies provide the first indication that depressive symptoms may sensitize people to everyday experiences of both social rejection and social acceptance.
Article
Four studies (N = 643) supported the hypothesis that social exclusion would reduce the global perception of life as meaningful. Social exclusion was manipulated experimentally by having a confederate refuse to meet participants after seeing their videotaped introduction (Study 1) and by ostracizing participants in a computerized ball-tossing game (Study 2). Compared to control condition and acceptance conditions, social exclusion led to perceiving life as less meaningful. Exclusion was also operationalized as self-reported loneliness, which was a better predictor of low meaning than other potent variables (Study 3). Study 4 found support for Baumeister's model of meaning (1991), by demonstrating that the effect of exclusion on meaning was mediated by purpose, value, and positive self-worth.
Man's search for meaning
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Encounters with objective coherence and the experience of meaning in life
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