1932

Abstract

Meaning in life has long been a mystery of human existence. In this review, we seek to demystify this construct. Focusing on the subjective experience of meaning in life, we review how it has been measured and briefly describe its correlates. Then we review evidence that meaning in life, for all its mystery, is a rather commonplace experience. We then define the construct and review its constituent facets: comprehension/coherence, purpose, and existential mattering/significance. We review the many experiences that have been shown to enhance meaning in life and close by considering important remaining research questions about this fascinating topic.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-psych-072420-122921
2021-01-04
2024-04-22
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/psych/72/1/annurev-psych-072420-122921.html?itemId=/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-psych-072420-122921&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

Literature Cited

  1. Adler JM, Lodi-Smith J, Philippe FL, Houle I 2016. The incremental validity of narrative identity in predicting well-being: a review of the field and recommendations for the future. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 20:2142–75
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Antonovsky A. 1993. The structure and properties of the sense of coherence scale. Soc. Sci. Med. 36:6725–33
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Baumeister RF. 1991. Meanings of Life New York: Guilford
  4. Baumeister RF, Hofmann W, Summerville A, Reiss PT, Vohs KD 2020. Everyday thoughts in time: experience sampling studies of mental time travel. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 46:12163148
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Baumeister RF, Leary MR. 1995. The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychol. Bull. 117:3497–529
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Baumeister RF, Vohs KD. 2002. The pursuit of meaningfulness in life. Handbook of Positive Psychology CR Snyder, SJ Lopez 608–18 Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Baumeister RF, Vohs KD, Oettingen G 2016. Pragmatic prospection: how and why people think about the future. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 20:13–16
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Baumeister RF, von Hippel W 2020. Meaning and evolution: why nature selected human minds to use meaning. Evol. Stud. Imagin. Cult. 4:11–18
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Becker E. 1973. The Denial of Death New York: Free Press
  10. Bohlmeijer ET, Westerhof GJ, Emmerik-de Jong M 2008. The effects of integrative reminiscence on meaning in life: Results of a quasi-experimental study. Aging Ment. Health 12:5639–46
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Boyle PA, Barnes LL, Buchman AS, Bennett DA 2009. Purpose in life is associated with mortality among community-dwelling older persons. Psychosom. Med. 71:5574–79
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Boyle PA, Buchman AS, Wilson RS, Yu L, Schneider JA, Bennett DA 2012. Effect of purpose in life on the relation between Alzheimer disease pathologic changes on cognitive function in advanced age. JAMA Psychiatry 69:5499–506
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Brandstätter M, Baumann U, Borasio GD, Fegg MJ 2012. Systematic review of meaning in life assessment instruments. Psycho-Oncology 21:1034–52
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Bronk KC. 2011. The role of purpose in life in healthy identity formation: a grounded model. New Dir. Youth Dev. 132:31–44
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Camus A. 1955. An Absurd Reasoning: The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays New York: Vintage
  16. Carstensen LL, Isaacowitz DM, Charles ST 1999. Taking time seriously: a theory of socioemotional selectivity. Am. Psychol. 54:3165–81
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Chu STW, Fung HH, Chu L 2019. Is positive affect related to meaning in life differently in younger and older adults? A time sampling study. J. Gerontol. Ser. B In press. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbz086
    [Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  18. Coleman RA, Neimeyer RA. 2010. Measuring meaning: searching for and making sense of spousal loss in late-life. Death Stud 34:9804–34
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Corona CD, Van Orden KA, Wisco BE, Pietrzak RH 2019. Meaning in life moderates the association between morally injurious experiences and suicide ideation among US combat veterans: results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. Psychol. Trauma 11:6614–20
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Costin V, Vignoles VL. 2020. Meaning is about mattering: evaluating coherence, purpose, and existential mattering as precursors of meaning in life judgments. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 118:4864–84
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Cozzolino PJ. 2006. Death contemplation, growth, and defense: converging evidence of dual-existential systems. Psychol. Inq. 17:278–87
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Crumbaugh JC. 1977. The seeking of noetic goals test (SONG): A complementary scale to the purpose in life test (PIL). J. Clin. Psychol. 33:3900–7
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Crumbaugh JC, Maholick LT. 1964. An experimental study in existentialism: the psychometric approach to Frankl's concept of noogenic neurosis. J. Clin. Psychol. 20:200–7
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Dar KA, Iqbal N. 2019. Religious commitment and well-being in college students: examining conditional indirect effects of meaning in life. J. Relig. Health 58:62288–97
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Davis CG, Nolen-Hoeksema S, Larson J 1998. Making sense of loss and benefiting from the experience: two construals of meaning. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 75:2561–74
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Davis WE, Hicks JA. 2013. Judgments of meaning in life following an existential crisis. See Hicks & Routledge 2013 163–74
  27. de St. Aubin E 2013. Generativity and the meaning of life. See Hicks & Routledge 2013 241–55
  28. Debats DL, Drost J, Hansen P 1995. Experiences of meaning in life: a combined qualitative and quantitative approach. Br. J. Psychol. 86:3359–75
    [Google Scholar]
  29. DeCarvalho RJ. 2000. The growth hypothesis and self-actualization: an existential alternative. Humanist. Psychol. 28:59–66
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Dik BJ, Byrne ZS, Steger MF 2013. Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace Washington, DC: Am. Psychol. Assoc.
  31. Ebersole P. 1998. Types and depth of written life meanings. The Human Quest for Meaning: A Handbook of Psychological Research and Clinical Applications PTP Wong, PS Fry 179–91 Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Edwards ME, Van Tongeren DR 2020. Meaning mediates the association between suffering and well-being. J. Posit. Psychol. 15:672233
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Fiske ST. 2018. Social Beings: Core Motives in Social Psychology New York: Wiley
  34. Frankl VE. 1984. 1946. Man's Search for Meaning New York: Washington Square Press. Rev. , updat. ed..
  35. George LS, Park CL. 2016. Meaning in life as comprehension, purpose, and mattering: toward integration and new research questions. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 20:205–20
    [Google Scholar]
  36. George LS, Park CL. 2017. The multidimensional existential meaning scale: a tripartite approach to measuring meaning in life. J. Posit. Psychol. 12:613–27
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Halusic M, King LA. 2013. What makes life meaningful: Positive mood works in a pinch. The Psychology of Meaning KD Markman, T Proulx, MJ Lindberg 445–64 Washington, DC: Am. Psychol. Assoc.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Heidegger M. 1982. 1927. Being and Time, transl. J Macquarrie, E Robinson New York: Harper & Row
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Heine S, Proulx T, Vohs K 2006. The meaning maintenance model: on the coherence of social motivations. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 10:88–110
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Heintzelman SJ, King LA. 2013a. On knowing more than we can tell: intuition and the human experience of meaning. J. Posit. Psychol. 8:471–82
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Heintzelman SJ, King LA. 2013b. The origins of meaning: objective reality, the unconscious mind, and awareness. See Hicks & Routledge 2013 87–99
  42. Heintzelman SJ, King LA. 2014a. Life is pretty meaningful. Am. Psychol. 69:561–74
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Heintzelman SJ, King LA. 2014b. (The feeling of) meaning-as-information. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 18:153–67
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Heintzelman SJ, King LA. 2016. Meaning in life and intuition. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 110:477–92
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Heintzelman SJ, King LA. 2019. Routines and meaning in life. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 45:688–99
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Heintzelman SJ, Trent J, King LA 2013. Encounters with objective coherence and the experience of meaning in life. Psychol. Sci. 24:991–98
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Heisel MJ, Flett GL. 2004. Purpose in life, satisfaction with life, and suicide ideation in a clinical sample. J. Psychopathol. Behav. Assess. 26:2127–35
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Hicks JA, Cicero DC, Trent J, Burton CM, King LA 2010a. Positive affect, intuition, and feelings of meaning. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 98:6967–79
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Hicks JA, King LA. 2007. Meaning in life and seeing the big picture: positive affect and global focus. Cogn. Emot. 21:71577–84
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Hicks JA, King LA. 2008. Religious commitment and positive mood as information about meaning in life. J. Res. Personal. 42:143–57
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Hicks JA, King LA. 2009a. Positive mood and social relatedness as information about meaning in life. J. Posit. Psychol. 4:6471–82
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Hicks JA, King LA. 2009b. Meaning in life as a subjective judgment and a lived experience. Soc. Personal. Psychol. Compass 3:4638–53
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Hicks JA, Routledge C 2013. The Experience of Meaning in Life: Classical Perspectives, Emerging Themes, and Controversies New York: Springer
  54. Hicks JA, Schlegel RJ, King LA 2010b. Social threats, happiness, and the dynamics of meaning in life judgments. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 36:1305–17
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Hicks JA, Trent J, Davis WE, King LA 2012. Positive affect, meaning in life, and future time perspective: an application of socioemotional selectivity theory. Psychol. Aging 27:1181–89
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Hill PL, Turiano NA. 2014. Purpose in life as a predictor of mortality across adulthood. Psychol. Sci. 25:71482–86
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Hill PL, Turiano NA, Mroczek DK, Burrow AL 2016. The value of a purposeful life: Sense of purpose predicts greater income and net worth. J. Res. Personal. 65:38–42
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Hocking WE. 1957. The Meaning of Immortality in Human Experience Westport, CT: Greenwood
  59. Hooker S, Post R, Sherman M 2020. Awareness of meaning in life is protective against burnout among family physicians: a CERA study. Fam. Med. 52:111–16
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Huta V, Waterman AS. 2014. Eudaimonia and its distinction from hedonia: developing a classification and terminology for understanding conceptual and operational definitions. J. Happiness Stud. 15:61425–56
    [Google Scholar]
  61. James W. 1893. The Principles of Psychology 1 New York: Holt
  62. Janoff-Bulman R. 1985. The aftermath of victimization: rebuilding shattered assumptions. Trauma and Its Wake CR Figley 15–35 Bristol, PA: Brunner/Mazel
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Juhl J, Routledge C. 2013. Nostalgia bolsters perceptions of a meaningful self in a meaningful world. See Hicks & Routledge 2013 213–26
  64. Kahneman D, Diener E, Schwarz N 1999. Well-Being: Foundations of Hedonic Psychology New York: Russell Sage Found.
  65. Kang Y, Strecher VJ, Kim E, Falk EB 2019. Purpose in life and conflict-related neural responses during health decision-making. Health Psychol 38:6545–52
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Kim ES, Delaney SW, Kubzansky LD 2019a. Sense of purpose in life and cardiovascular disease: underlying mechanisms and future directions. Curr. Cardiol. Rep. 21:11135
    [Google Scholar]
  67. Kim J, Christy AG, Schlegel RJ, Donnellan MB, Hicks JA 2018. Existential ennui: examining the reciprocal relationship between self-alienation and academic amotivation. Soc. Psychol. Personal. Sci. 9:7853–62
    [Google Scholar]
  68. Kim J, Seto E, Schlegel RJ, Hicks JA 2019b. Thinking about a new decade in life increases personal self-reflection: a replication and reinterpretation of Alter and Hershfield's 2014 findings. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 117:e27–34
    [Google Scholar]
  69. King LA. 2012. Meaning: effortless and ubiquitous. Meaning, Mortality, and Choice: The Social Psychology of Existential Concerns M Mikulincer, P Shaver 129–44 Washington, DC: Am. Psychol. Assoc.
    [Google Scholar]
  70. King LA, Heintzelman SJ, Ward SJ 2016. Beyond the search for meaning: the contemporary science of meaning in life. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 25:211–16
    [Google Scholar]
  71. King LA, Hicks JA, Abdelkhalik J 2009. Death, life, scarcity, and value: an alternative approach to the meaning of death. Psychol. Sci. 20:1459–62
    [Google Scholar]
  72. King LA, Hicks JA, Krull JL, Del Gaiso AK 2006. Positive affect and the experience of meaning in life. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 90:1179–96
    [Google Scholar]
  73. Kleiman EM, Beaver JK. 2013. A meaningful life is worth living: meaning in life as a suicide resiliency factor. Psychiatry Res 210:3934–39
    [Google Scholar]
  74. Klinger E. 1977. Meaning and Void: Inner Experience and the Incentives in People's Lives Minneapolis: Univ. Minn. Press
  75. Klinger E. 1998. The search for meaning in evolutionary perspective and its clinical implications. The Human Quest for Meaning: A Handbook of Psychological Research and Clinical Applications PTP Wong, PS Fry 27–50 Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum
    [Google Scholar]
  76. Klinger E, Cox WM. 2011. Motivation and the goal theory of current concerns. Handbook of Motivational Counseling: Goal-Based Approaches to Assessment and Intervention with Addiction and Other Problems WM Cox, E Klinger 3–47 New York: Wiley Blackwell
    [Google Scholar]
  77. Kobau R, Sniezek J, Zack MM, Lucas RE, Burns A 2010. Well-being assessment: an evaluation of well-being scales for public health and population estimates of well-being among US adults. Appl. Psychol. Health Well-Being 2:272–97
    [Google Scholar]
  78. Koltko-Rivera ME. 2004. The psychology of worldviews. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 8:3–58
    [Google Scholar]
  79. Krause N. 2003. Religious meaning and subjective well-being in late life. J. Gerontol. Ser. B Psychol. Sci. Soc. Sci. 58:3S160–70
    [Google Scholar]
  80. Krause N, Hayward RD. 2014. Assessing stability and change in a second-order confirmatory factor model of meaning in life. J. Happiness Stud. 15:2237–53
    [Google Scholar]
  81. Krause N, Rainville G. 2020. Age differences in meaning in life: exploring the mediating role of social support. Arch. Gerontol. Geriatr. 88:104008
    [Google Scholar]
  82. Kruglanski AW, Chen X, Dechesne M, Fishman S, Orehek E 2009. Fully committed: suicide bomber's motivation and the quest for personal significance. Political Psychol 30:331–57
    [Google Scholar]
  83. Lambert NM, Stillman TF, Baumeister RF, Fincham FD, Hicks JA, Graham SM 2010. Family as a salient source of meaning in young adulthood. J. Posit. Psychol. 5:5367–76
    [Google Scholar]
  84. Lambert NM, Stillman TF, Hicks JA, Kamble S, Baumeister RF, Fincham FD 2013. To belong is to matter: Sense of belonging enhances meaning in life. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 39:111418–27
    [Google Scholar]
  85. Leontiev DA. 2013. Personal meaning: a challenge for psychology. J. Posit. Psychol. 8:459–70
    [Google Scholar]
  86. Li Z, Lui Y, Peng K, Hicks JA 2020. Developing a quadripartite existential meaning scale and exploring the internal structure of meaning in life. J. Happiness Stud. In press. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-020-00256-2
    [Crossref] [Google Scholar]
  87. Liu S, Brooks NB, Spelke ES 2019. Origins of the concepts cause, cost, and goal in prereaching infants. PNAS 116:3617747–52
    [Google Scholar]
  88. Martela F, Ryan RM, Steger MF 2018. Meaningfulness as satisfaction of autonomy, competence, relatedness, and beneficence: comparing the four satisfactions and positive affect as predictors of meaning in life. J. Happiness Stud. 19:51261–82
    [Google Scholar]
  89. Martela F, Steger MF. 2016. The three meanings of meaning in life: distinguishing coherence, purpose, and significance. J. Posit. Psychol. 11:553145
    [Google Scholar]
  90. Martin LL, Campbell WK, Henry CD 2004. The roar of awakening: mortality acknowledgment as a call to authentic living. Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology J Greenberg, SL Koole, T Pyszczynski 431–48 New York: Guilford
    [Google Scholar]
  91. McAdams DP, Olson BD. 2010. Personality development: continuity and change over the life course. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 61:517–42
    [Google Scholar]
  92. McGregor I, Little BR. 1998. Personal projects, happiness, and meaning: on doing well and being yourself. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 74:494–512
    [Google Scholar]
  93. McKnight PE, Kashdan TB. 2009. Purpose in life as a system that creates and sustains health and well-being: an integrative, testable theory. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 13:3242–51
    [Google Scholar]
  94. Miao M, Gan Y. 2019. How does meaning in life predict proactive coping? The self‐regulatory mechanism on emotion and cognition. J. Personal. 87:3579–92
    [Google Scholar]
  95. Mota NP, Tsai J, Kirwin PD, Sareen J, Southwick SM, Pietrzak RH 2016. Purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk of incident physical disability in aging US military veterans. Am. J. Geriatr. Psychiatry 24:9706–14
    [Google Scholar]
  96. Newman DB, Nezlek JB, Thrash TM 2018. The dynamics of searching for meaning and presence of meaning in daily life. J. Personal. 86:3368–79
    [Google Scholar]
  97. Newman DB, Sachs ME, Stone AA, Schwarz N 2020. Nostalgia and well-being in daily life: an ecological validity perspective. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 118:2325–47
    [Google Scholar]
  98. Norton MI, Gino F. 2014. Rituals alleviate grieving for loved ones, lovers, and lotteries. J. Exp. Psychol. Gen. 143:1266–72
    [Google Scholar]
  99. Oishi S, Diener E. 2014. Residents of poor nations have a greater sense of meaning in life than residents of wealthy nations. Psychol. Sci. 25:422–30
    [Google Scholar]
  100. Owens GP, Steger MF, Whitesell AA, Herrera CJ 2009. Relationships among posttraumatic stress disorder, guilt, and meaning in life for military veterans. J. Trauma. Stress 22:654–57
    [Google Scholar]
  101. Park CL. 2005. Religion and meaning. Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality RF Paloutzian, CL Park 295–314 New York: Guilford
    [Google Scholar]
  102. Park CL. 2010. Making sense of the meaning literature: an integrative review of meaning making and its effects on adjustment to stressful life events. Psychol. Bull. 136:2257–301
    [Google Scholar]
  103. Pasupathi M. 2001. The social construction of the personal past and its implications for adult development. Psychol. Bull. 127:5651–72
    [Google Scholar]
  104. Pyszczynski T, Taylor J. 2016. When the buffer breaks: disrupted terror management in posttraumatic stress disorder. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 25:4286–90
    [Google Scholar]
  105. Ray DG, Gomillion S, Pintea AI, Hamlin I 2019. On being forgotten: Memory and forgetting serve as signals of interpersonal importance. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 116:2259–76
    [Google Scholar]
  106. Rivera GN, Christy AG, Kim J, Vess M, Hicks JA, Schlegel RJ 2019. Understanding the relationship between perceived authenticity and well-being. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 23:1113–26
    [Google Scholar]
  107. Rivera GN, Vess M, Hicks JA, Routledge C 2020. Awe and meaning: elucidating complex effects of awe experiences on meaning in life. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 50:2392–405
    [Google Scholar]
  108. Rosenberg M, McCullough BC. 1981. Mattering: inferred significance and mental health among adolescents. Res. Community Ment. Health 2:163–82
    [Google Scholar]
  109. Routledge C, Vess M 2018. Handbook of Terror Management Theory London: Academic
  110. Ryan RM, Deci EL. 2001. On happiness and human potentials: a review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 52:14166
    [Google Scholar]
  111. Ryan WS, Ryan RM. 2019. Toward a social psychology of authenticity: exploring within-person variation in autonomy, congruence, and genuineness using self-determination theory. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 23:199–112
    [Google Scholar]
  112. Ryff CD. 1989. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 57:61069–81
    [Google Scholar]
  113. Ryff CD, Singer BH. 2008. Know thyself and become what you are: a eudaimonic approach to psychological well-being. J. Happiness Stud. 9:13–39
    [Google Scholar]
  114. Sartre J-P. 1956. Being and Nothingness New York: Philos. Libr.
  115. Schaw JA. 2000. Narcissism as a motivational structure: the problem of personal significance. Psychiatry 63:219–30
    [Google Scholar]
  116. Scheier MF, Wrosch C, Baum A, Cohen S, Martire LM et al. 2006. The life engagement test: assessing purpose in life. J. Behav. Med. 29:3291–98
    [Google Scholar]
  117. Schlegel RJ, Hicks JA, Arndt J, King LA 2009. Thine own self: true self-concept accessibility and meaning in life. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 96:2473–90
    [Google Scholar]
  118. Schlegel RJ, Hicks JA, King LA, Arndt J 2011. Feeling like you know who you are: perceived true self-knowledge and meaning in life. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 37:745–56
    [Google Scholar]
  119. Schwarz N, Clore GL. 1988. How do I feel about it? Informative functions of affective states. Affect, Cognition, and Social Behavior K Fiedler, J Forgas 44–62 Toronto: Hogrefe Int.
    [Google Scholar]
  120. Sedikides C, Wildschut T. 2018. Finding meaning in nostalgia. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 22:148–61
    [Google Scholar]
  121. Seligman MEP. 2002. Authentic Happiness New York: Free Press
  122. Seto E, Hicks JA, Vess M, Geraci L 2016. The association between vivid thoughts of death and authenticity. Motiv. Emot. 40:4520–40
    [Google Scholar]
  123. Shiah YJ, Chang F, Chiang SK, Lin IM, Tam WCC 2015. Religion and health: anxiety, religiosity, meaning of life and mental health. J. Relig. Health 54:135–45
    [Google Scholar]
  124. Silver RL, Boon C, Stones MH 1983. Searching for meaning in misfortune: making sense of incest. J. Soc. Issues 39:281–101
    [Google Scholar]
  125. Steger MF. 2012. Experiencing meaning in life: optimal functioning at the nexus of spirituality, psychopathology, and well-being. The Human Quest for Meaning: Theories, Research, and Applications PTP Wong 165–84 New York: Routledge. , 2nd ed..
    [Google Scholar]
  126. Steger MF, Dik BJ. 2010. Work as meaning: Individual and organizational benefits of engaging in meaningful work. Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Work PA Linley, S Harrington, N Garcea 131–42 New York: Oxford Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  127. Steger MF, Frazier P. 2005. Meaning in life: one link in the chain from religiousness to well-being. J. Couns. Psychol. 52:4574–82
    [Google Scholar]
  128. Steger MF, Frazier P, Oishi S, Kaler M 2006. The meaning in life questionnaire: assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life. J. Couns. Psychol. 53:180–93
    [Google Scholar]
  129. Steger MF, Kashdan TB. 2009. Depression and everyday social activity, intimacy, and well-being. J. Couns. Psychol. 56:289–300
    [Google Scholar]
  130. Steger MF, Kashdan TB, Sullivan BA, Lorentz D 2008. Understanding the search for meaning in life: personality, cognitive style, and the dynamic between seeking and experiencing meaning. J. Personal. 76:199–228
    [Google Scholar]
  131. Steger MF, Oishi S, Kashdan TB 2009. Meaning in life across the life span: levels and correlates of meaning in life from emerging adulthood to older adulthood. J. Posit. Psychol. 4:143–52
    [Google Scholar]
  132. Steptoe A, Fancourt D. 2019. Leading a meaningful life at older ages and its relationship with social engagement, prosperity, health, biology, and time use. PNAS 116:41207–12
    [Google Scholar]
  133. Stillman TF, Lambert NM, Fincham FD, Baumeister RF 2011. Meaning as magnetic force: evidence that meaning in life promotes interpersonal appeal. Soc. Psychol. Personal. Sci. 2:113–20
    [Google Scholar]
  134. Sutton A. 2020. Living the good life: a meta-analysis of authenticity, well-being and engagement. Personal. Individ. Differ. 153:109645
    [Google Scholar]
  135. Swann WB, Read SJ. 1981. Self-verification processes: how we sustain our self-conceptions. J. Exp. Soc. Psychol. 17:4351–72
    [Google Scholar]
  136. Szpunar KK. 2010. Episodic future thought: an emerging concept. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 5:2142–62
    [Google Scholar]
  137. Taylor C. 1989. Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press
  138. Tolstoy L. 1983. 1882. A Confession, transl. D. Patterson New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
    [Google Scholar]
  139. Tov W, Lee HW. 2016. A closer look at the hedonics of everyday meaning and satisfaction. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 111:4585–609
    [Google Scholar]
  140. Trent J, King LA. 2010. Predictors of rapid vs. thoughtful judgments of meaning in life. J. Posit. Psychol. 5:439–51
    [Google Scholar]
  141. Trent J, Lavelock C, King LA 2013. Processing fluency, positive affect, and meaning in life. J. Posit. Psychol. 8:135–39
    [Google Scholar]
  142. Turk-Browne NB, Scholl BJ, Chun MM, Johnson MK 2008. Neural evidence of statistical learning: efficient detection of visual regularities without awareness. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 21:1934–45
    [Google Scholar]
  143. Updegraff JA, Silver RC, Holman EA 2008. Searching for and finding meaning in collective trauma: results from a national longitudinal study of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 95:3709–22
    [Google Scholar]
  144. Urry HL, Nitschke JB, Dolski I, Jackson DC, Dalton KM et al. 2004. Making a life worth living: neural correlates of well-being. Psychol. Sci. 15:6367–72
    [Google Scholar]
  145. van Tilburg WAP, Igou ER, Sedikides C 2013. In search of meaningfulness: nostalgia as an antidote to boredom. Emotion 13:450–61
    [Google Scholar]
  146. Vess M, Hoeldtke R, Leal SA, Sanders CS, Hicks JA 2018. The subjective quality of episodic future thought and the experience of meaning in life. J. Posit. Psychol. 13:4419–28
    [Google Scholar]
  147. Vess M, Rogers R, Routledge C, Hicks JA 2017. When being far away is good: exploring how mortality salience, regulatory mode, and goal progress affect judgments of meaning in life. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 47:182–91
    [Google Scholar]
  148. Vess M, Routledge C, Landau MJ, Arndt J 2009. The dynamics of death and meaning: the effects of death-relevant cognitions and personal need for structure on perceptions of meaning in life. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 97:4728–44
    [Google Scholar]
  149. Ward SJ, King LA. 2016a. Socrates’ dissatisfaction, a happiness arms race, and the trouble with eudaimonic well-being. Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being J Vittersø 523–31 New York: Springer
    [Google Scholar]
  150. Ward SJ, King LA. 2016b. Poor but happy? Money, mood, and experienced and expected meaning in life. Soc. Psychol. Personal. Sci. 7:463–70
    [Google Scholar]
  151. Ward SJ, King LA. 2017. Work and the good life: how work can promote meaning in life. Res. Organ. Behav. 37:59–82
    [Google Scholar]
  152. Waytz A, Hershfield HE, Tamir DI 2015. Mental simulation and meaning in life. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 108:2336–55
    [Google Scholar]
  153. Williams KD. 2012. Ostracism: the impact of being rendered meaningless. Meaning, Mortality, and Choice: The Social Psychology of Existential Concerns M Mikulincer, P Shaver 309–24 Washington, DC: Am. Psychol. Assoc.
    [Google Scholar]
  154. Womick J, Atherton B, King LA 2020. Lives of significance (and purpose and coherence): narcissism, meaning in life, and subjective well-being. Heliyon 6:5e03982
    [Google Scholar]
  155. Womick J, Ward SJ, Heintzelman SJ, Woody B, King LA 2019. The existential function of right-wing authoritarianism. J. Personal. 87:1056–73
    [Google Scholar]
  156. Yalom ID. 1980. Existential Psychotherapy New York: Basic Books
  157. You S, Lim SA. 2019. Religious orientation and subjective well-being: the mediating role of meaning in life. J. Psychol. Theol. 47:134–47
    [Google Scholar]
  158. Zhang H, Sang Z, Chan DKS, Schlegel RJ 2019. Threats to belongingness and meaning in life: a test of the compensation among sources of meaning. Motiv. Emot. 43:2242–54
    [Google Scholar]
/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-psych-072420-122921
Loading
  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error