Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Presence of Meaning in Life Associated with Psychological Well-Being

Viktor Frankl, existential and humanistic psychologist and author of Man's Search for Meaning, pioneered the investigation of meaning in life as an adaptive psychological attribute. In a study that collected data cross 13 different universities, Jessie Dezutter and colleagues (2013) studied the impact of meaning in life on psychological adjustment in a sample of 8,492 American adults across 30 colleges and universities.

The researchers note that meaning of life has been defined as having a sense of coherence, an enhanced understanding of the world, and in finding a sense of purpose in life. Previous research has found a link between higher meaning in life in positive outcomes including more positive emotions and higher vitality, as well as less symptoms of depression and lower risky behavior.

The study distinguished between two dimensions of meaning in life:

(1) Presence of Meaning -- perception of significance, purpose and value

(2) Search for Meaning -- intensity of effort to establish or increase meaning in life

The study identified five types of people:

(1) High Presence--Low Search

These individuals scored highest in measures of psychological well-being and lower in negative indicators of psychosocial functioning.

(2) High Presence--High Search

These individuals scores the second highest in measures of psychological well-being, but not as high as the high presence-low search group.

(3) Low Presence-Low Search

Those scoring in this category were the lowest functioning of the sample.

(4) Low Presence-High Search

While still scoring low in functioning, they scores higher than the Low Presence-Low Search group. In particular, they scores higher in eudiamonic and psychological well-being, and scores lower in tendencies to break rules and were less likely to report social and physical aggression than the Low Presence-Low Search group.

(5) Undifferentiated

Scored at intermediate levels.

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