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Journal of Counseling Psychology Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association

2006, Vol. 53, o. !, "0#$3 0022#0!6%&06&'!2.00 ()*+ !0.!03%&0022#0!6%.53.!."0

,he -eaning in .ife /uestionnaire+ Assessing the Presence of an0 1earch
for -eaning in .ife
-ichael 2. 1teger an0 Patricia 2ra3ier 1higehiro )ishi
4ni5ersity of -innesota6,7in Cities Campus 4ni5ersity of Virginia
-atthe7 8aler
4ni5ersity of -innesota6,7in Cities Campus
Counseling psychologists often 7or9 7ith clients to increase their 7ell#being as 7ell as to 0ecrease their
0istress. )ne important aspect of 7ell#being, highlighte0 particularly in humanistic theories of the
counseling process, is percei5e0 meaning in life. :o7e5er, poor measurement has hampere0 research on
meaning in life. *n 3 stu0ies, e5i0ence is pro5i0e0 for the internal consistency, temporal stability, factor
structure, an0 5ali0ity of the -eaning in .ife /uestionnaire ;-./<, a ne7 !0#item measure of the
presence of, an0 the search for, meaning in life. A multitrait#multimetho0 matri= 0emonstrates the
con5ergent an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity of the -./ subscales across time an0 informants, in comparison
7ith 2 other meaning scales. ,he -./ offers se5eral impro5ements o5er current meaning in life
measures, inclu0ing no item o5erlap 7ith 0istress measures, a stable factor structure, better 0iscriminant
5ali0ity, a briefer format, an0 the ability to measure the search for meaning.
Keywords: meaning in life, purpose in life, measurement, scale construction, 7ell#being
*n recent years the construct of meaning in life has recei5e0
rene7e0 attention an0 legitimacy, perhaps in con>unction 7ith a
gro7ing focus on positi5e traits an0 psychological strengths ;?yan
@ (eci, 200!A 1eligman @ Csi9s3entmihalyi, 2000<. *n5ariably,
meaning in life is regar0e0 as a positi5e 5ariable6an in0icator of
7ell#being ;?yff, !$"$<, a facilitator of a0apti5e coping ;Par9 @
2ol9man, !$$%<, or a mar9er of therapeutic gro7th ;Crumbaugh @
-aholic9, !$6BA 2ran9l, !$65<. A recent report in the Journal of
Counseling Psychology a05ocate0 for the un0erstan0ing an0
sessment of 7ell#being 5ariables such as meaning in life in or0er
to promote client gro7th an0 reco5ery ;.ent, 200B<. (espite
substantial progress o5er the B0#year history of empirical research
on meaning an0 the resurgence presently occurring, e=isting re#
search seems unable to ans7er many fun0amental Cuestions about
the construct. De argue that better measurement 7ill help a05ance
this research by pro5i0ing a measure of therapeutic outcome an0
-ichael 2. 1teger, Patricia 2ra3ier, an0 -atthe7 8aler, (epartment of
Psychology, 4ni5ersity of -innesota6,7in Cities CampusA 1higehiro
)ishi, (epartment of Psychology, 4ni5ersity of Virginia.
,his research 7as supporte0 by a :arrison Eough Era0uate ?esearch
Erant to -ichael 2. 1teger from the 4ni5ersity of -innesota. Portions of
this article 7ere presente0 at the 2n0 *nternational Positi5e Psychology
1ummit, )ctober 2003, Dashington, (C, an0 at the 1e5enth Furopean
Conference on Psychological Assessment, -arch 200B, -Glaga, 1pain.
De than9 Hran0on 1ulli5an an0 An0re7 ,i= for their collection of some
of the 0ata use0 in these stu0ies. De also than9 -ar9 1ny0er an0 ,o00
8ash0an for their helpful comments on a 0raft of this article.
Correspon0ence concerning this article shoul0 be a00resse0 to -ichael
2. 1teger, 4ni5ersity of -innesota, (epartment of Psychology, 2!"
Flliott :all, %5 Fast ?i5er ?oa0, -inneapolis, - 55B55. F#mail+
personal gro7th that counseling psychologists historically ha5e
been intereste0 in, particularly those influence0 by the humanistic
tra0ition of promoting gro7th an0 not simply 0ecreasing symp#
toms. ,he purpose of the present research 7as to 0e5elop an
impro5e0 measure of meaning in life.
)5er5ie7 of -eaning in .ife .iterature
,he 0efinition of meaning in life 5aries throughout the fiel0,
ranging from coherence in oneJs life ;Hattista @ Almon0, !$%3A
?e9er @ Dong, !$""< to goal 0irecte0ness or purposefulness ;e.g.,
?yff @ 1inger, !$$"< to Kthe ontological significance of life from
the point of 5ie7 of the e=periencing in0i5i0ualL ;Crumbaugh @
-aholic9, !$6B, p. 20!<. )thers offer semantic 0efinitions ;e.g.,
KDhat 0oes my life meanMLA Haumeister, !$$!A Nalom, !$"0<.
.i9e7ise, there is 0i5ersity in perspecti5es regar0ing ho7 to
achie5e meaning in life. Hecause there is no uni5ersal meaning that
can fit e5eryoneJs life ;2ran9l, !$65<, each person must create
meaning in his or her o7n life ;Hattista @ Almon0, !$%3<, 7hether
through the pursuit of important goals ;8linger, !$%%< or the
0e5elopment of a coherent life narrati5e ;8enyon, 2000A -c#
A0ams, !$$3<. Haumeister ;!$$!< propose0 that a feeling of mean#
ing can be attaine0 by first meeting nee0s for 5alue, purpose,
efficacy, an0 self#7orth. )thers ha5e in0icate0 the importance of
e5ery0ay 0ecision ma9ing an0 action ;-a00i, !$%0< or of self#
transcen0ence ;e.g., Allport, !$6!A 1eligman, 2002< in the creation
of meaning.
(espite these 0ifferences in 0efinitions of, an0 routes to, mean#
ing in life, theorists uniformly regar0 meaning as crucial. -ean#
ingful li5ing has been 0irectly eCuate0 7ith authentic li5ing
;8enyon, 2000<, an0 in eu0aimonic theories of 7ell#being, 7hich
focus on personal gro7th an0 psychological strengths beyon0
A11F11*E -FA*E * .*2F
pleasant affect, meaning is important, 7hether as a critical com#
ponent ;?yff @ 1inger, !$$"< or as a result of ma=imi3ing oneJs
potentials ;e.g., (eci @ ?yan, 2000A -aslo7, !$%!<. 2ran9l ;!$63<
argue0 that humans are characteri3e0 by a K7ill to meaning,L an
innate 0ri5e to fin0 meaning an0 significance in their li5es, an0
that failure to achie5e meaning results in psychological 0istress.
?esearch has supporte0 this propose0 lin9 bet7een lac9 of mean#
ing an0 psychological 0istress. :a5ing less meaning in life has
been associate0 7ith greater nee0 for therapy ;Hattista @ Almon0,
!$%3<, 0epression an0 an=iety ;e.g., (ebats, 5an 0er .ubbe, @
De3eman, !$$3<, an0 suici0al i0eation an0 substance abuse ;e.g.,
:arlo7, e7comb, @ Hentler, !$"6<, as 7ell as other forms of
0istress. :a5ing more meaning has been positi5ely relate0 to 7or9
en>oyment ;Honebright, Clay, @ An9enmann, 2000<, life satisfac#
tion ;e.g., Chamberlain @ Oi9a, !$""b<, an0 happiness ;(ebats et
al., !$$3<, among other measures of healthy psychological
Counseling psychology has tra0itionally focuse0 on positi5e func#
tioning an0 human strengths, although more energy has been focuse0
on Ka0apting 0eficit or pathology#oriente0 mo0els to the treatment of
relati5ely 7ell#functioning clients than to forging, testing, an0 apply#
ing mo0els of psychological healthL ;.ent, 200B, p. B"3<. .ent further
argue0 that greater inCuiry into 7ell#being coul0 lea0 to 0e5elopment
of mo0els of mental health that a00ress the nee0s of practicing
psychologists. 1e5eral counseling psychologists ha5e commente0 on
the importance of meaning in life an0 meaning#relate0 5ariables to the
healthy personality ;(ay @ ?ottinghaus, 2003<, psychotherapy ;Eelso
@ Doo0house, 2003<, health psychology ;e.g., :arris @ ,horesen,
2003<, an0 career counseling ;1a5ic9as, 2003<. -eaning is one of a
set of gro7th#relate0 5ariables that are thought to pro5i0e the con0i#
tions from 7hich happiness arises ;.ent, 200BA ?yff @ 1inger, !$$"<.
,hus, meaning may contribute to the foun0ation of o5erall client
happiness. 1ome clients may also present 7ith a 0esire to become
actuali3e0 an0 achie5e a 0eeper sense of meaning an0 purpose ;.ent,
200B<. 2urther, the crises 7ith 7hich clients most often present offer
opportunities for gro7th, an0 greater meaning or purpose in life may
be one important outcome of therapy. *n his monograph, .ent ;200B<
sur5eye0 many of these issues an0 also calle0 for efforts to purify
measures of 7ell#being constructs that o5erlap in item content. ,he
present stu0ies 0escribe e=actly such an effort.
)ne shortcoming in the meaning in life literature concerns
measures of meaning. -ost meaning research has use0 one of
three measures+ the Purpose in .ife ,est ;P*.A Crumbaugh @
-aholic9, !$6B<, the .ife ?egar0 *n0e= ;.?*A Hattista @ Almon0,
!$%3<, or the 1ense of Coherence 1cale ;Antono5s9y, !$"%<,
7hich is actually a coping 0isposition measure ;see 1ammallahti,
:oli, 8omulainen, @ Aalberg, !$$6<. 1ome7hat less often use0
are the .ife Attitu0e Profile ;?e9er @ Peacoc9, !$"!< an0 the .ife
Attitu0e Profile6?e5ise0 ;?e9er, !$$2< an0 ?yffJs ;!$"$< Pur#
pose in .ife subscale. -any, if not all, of these scales appear to
ha5e characteristics that mu00le the nomological net7or9 ;Cron#
bach @ -eehl, !$55< of meaning, as outline0 ne=t.
-eaning in life scales ha5e been critici3e0 for being confoun0e0
on an item le5el 7ith many of the 5ariables they correlate 7ith in
their research applications ;(yc9, !$"%A 2ra3ier, )ishi, @ 1teger,
2003A Earfiel0, !$%3A 8linger, !$%%A Nalom, !$"0<. 2or instance,
the P*. an0 the .?* contain items such as KDith regar0 to suici0e,
* ha5e thought of it seriously as a 7ay outL an0 K* feel really goo0
about my life.L ,hese items coul0 tap any number of constructs
asi0e from meaning, such as moo0. Accor0ing to Clar9 an0
Datson ;!$$5<, items assessing nearly any negati5e moo0 term
7ill co5ary highly 7ith neuroticism. Fmpirical fin0ings support
this i0ea, 7ith 0isconcertingly high correlations obser5e0 bet7een
the P*. an0 negati5e affect ;#.%"A Oi9a @ Chamberlain, !$"%<,
positi5e affect ;.%"A Oi9a @ Chamberlain, !$$2<, an0 life satisfac#
tion ;.%!A Chamberlain @ Oi9a, !$""b<. )ther meaning measures
also are highly correlate0 7ith measures of positi5e an0 negati5e
affect ;e.g., (ebats et al., !$$3A Oi9a @ Chamberlain, !$"%<. ,he
in5estigation of potential correlates, antece0ents, an0 conse#
Cuences of meaning in life is hampere0 if items are inclu0e0 in
meaning measures that tap these relate0 constructs.
2urthermore, the factor structures of meaning measures ha5e
been some7hat problematic. Fmpirical testing has re5eale0 struc#
tures 0ifferent from those theori3e0 for all of the measures of
meaning that ha5e been e=amine0 ;see, e.g., Chamberlain @ Oi9a,
!$""bA -cEregor @ .ittle, !$$"<. *n a00ition, the factor structures
of often#use0 meaning measures such as the P*. an0 .?* ha5e
5arie0 from stu0y to stu0y ;e.g., compare Chamberlain @ Oi9a,
!$""a, 7ith ?e9er @ Cousins, !$%$, an0 -cEregor @ .ittle,
!$$"<, possibly o7ing to the presence of multiple content 0omains.
2inally, gi5en that 2ran9lJs ;!$63< 7or9, particularly Mans
Search for Meaning, has been gi5en cre0it for the emergence
meaning as an important 5ariable ;Dong @ 2ry, !$$"<, it is
surprising that the search for meaning in life has been all but
neglecte0. -a00i ;!$%0< also argue0 that the search for meaning is
a fun0amental human moti5ation. Crumbaugh ;!$%%< 0esigne0 the
1ee9ing of oetic Eoals 1cale to assess the K7ill to meaning,L but
criticism of that measure has been se5ere ;e.g., (yc9, !$"%A
-orelan0, !$"5<, an0 it has gone almost completely unuse0.
De sought to a00ress these concerns by 0e5eloping a ne7
measure of meaning in life. De 0efine0 meaning in life as the
sense ma0e of, an0 significance felt regar0ing, the nature of oneJs
being an0 e=istence. ,his 0efinition represents an effort to encom#
pass all of the ma>or 0efinitions of meaning an0 allo7s respon#
0ents to use their o7n criteria for meaning. Hattista an0 Almon0
;!$%3< argue0 for a Krelati5isticL theory of meaning in life, in
7hich no pre0etermine0 constraints are place0 on ho7 people may
0efine meaning in their li5es. ,his theory 7as in some 7ays a
response to concerns that the P*. ha0 incorporate0 a 5ariety of
5alues in the measurement of meaning, such as e=citement an0
responsibility, that pre0icate0 ha5ing meaning on en0orsing these
5alues. )ur approach 7as also consistent 7ith arguments that each
in0i5i0ual uniCuely constructs his or her o7n lifeJs meaning ;e.g.,
2ran9l, !$66<. A similar metho0 has been use0 successfully in the
assessment of sub>ecti5e 7ell#being ;see, e.g., (iener, Fmmons,
.arsen, @ Eriffin, !$"5A .yubomirs9y @ .epper, !$$$<.
*n 1tu0ies ! an0 2 7e teste0 the item pool an0 assesse0 the
structural, con5ergent, an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity of the -eaning in
.ife /uestionnaire ;-./<. *n 1tu0y 3 7e use0 a multitrait#
multimetho0 matri= 0esign to more rigorously assess the con5er#
gent an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity of the -./. 1tu0y 3 also pro5i0es
a comparison of the -./ 7ith the t7o most use0 meaning
1tu0y !a
,he purpose of 1tu0y ! 7as to create an0 test an item pool for
the construction of a measure of meaning in life. 1tu0y !a pro5i0e0
1,FEF?, 2?AO*F?, )*1:*, A( 8A.F?
the initial testing of items an0 factor structure. 1tu0y !b refine0 the
items using confirmatory factor analyses ;C2A<. Ffforts first 7ere
ma0e to fully sample the content 0omain of meaning in life
through a re5ie7 of theories an0 e=isting measures of meaning in
life an0 the search for meaning. *tems 7ere 7ritten to o5ersample
content rele5ant to meaning in life ;e.g., Clar9 @ Datson, !$$5A
?eise, Daller, @ Comrey, 2000< an0 7ere e5aluate0 7ith regar0 to
clarity ;e.g., not as9ing t7o Cuestions in an itemA see, e.g., (a7is,
2000A Visser, 8rosnic9, @ .a5ra9as, 2000< an0 content specificity
;e.g., not referring to positi5e or negati5e affectA see, e.g., Clar9 @
Datson, !$$5<. Fighty#three items 7ere initially generate0. ,7o of
the authors an0 t7o traine0 research assistants e5aluate0 these
items 7ith regar0 to the abo5e criteria, an0 BB 7ere retaine0. ,hese
BB items 7ere a0ministere0 to a sample of un0ergra0uate stu0ents
to obtain 0ata for factor analyses an0 scale re5ision. *n a00ition,
7e e=amine0 the con5ergent 5ali0ity of the ne7 meaning scale by
assessing correlations 7ith measures of life satisfaction, positi5e
affect, personality ;e=tra5ersion an0 agreeableness<, an0 intrinsic
religiosity, an0 7e assesse0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity 5ia correlations
7ith measures of social 0esirability, e=trinsic religiosity, an0 5al#
ues. De further hypothesi3e0 negati5e correlations 7ith neuroti#
cism an0 0epression.
Participants and Procedure
,he participants in this stu0y 7ere !5! un0ergra0uate intro0uctory
psychology stu0ents. ,heir mean age 7as !$." years ;SD 3.B<. Partici#
pants 7ere 6BP femaleA most 7ere Caucasian ;%6P<, follo7e0 by Asian
;!0P<, African American ;3P<, ati5e American ;3P<, Asian American
;2P<, an0 :ispanic ;!P<, 7ith 5P of participants en0orsing Kother.L
Participants 7ere a0ministere0 the BB items that met the abo5e criteria an0
complete0 a00itional self#report in5entories, as reporte0 belo7.
*n a00ition to assessment of 0emographic 5ariables, se5eral measures
7ere 0istribute0 7ith the BB -./ items to a subset of the participants to
obtain e5i0ence of con5ergent an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity for the -./ as a
measure of the presence of meaning in life as scale construction procee0e0
;see Clar9 @ Datson, !$$5<. All of the measures use0, e=cept for the
5alues measure, 7ere selecte0 because of 0emonstrate0 5ali0ity an0 reli#
ability in pre5ious stu0ies. ?esults of con5ergent an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity
analyses are presente0 at the en0 of 1tu0y !b.
,he 1atisfaction Dith .ife 1cale ;1D.1A (iener et al., !$"5< is a 7i0ely
use0 an0 7ell#5ali0ate0 measure of life satisfaction. 1atisfaction 7ith life
represents the cogniti5e aspect of sub>ecti5e 7ell#being ;.ucas, (iener, @
1uh, !$$6<. ?espon0ents use a %#point scale ranging from strongly dis-
agree to strongly agree to rate the scaleJs fi5e items. ,he 1D.1
0emonstrate0 goo0 reliability, as 7ell as con5ergent an0 0iscriminant
5ali0ity ;for a re5ie7, see Pa5ot @ (iener, !$$3<. *nternal consistency in
the present sample 7as goo0 ; ."B<.
,he .ong#,erm Affect 1cale ;.,A1A (iener, 1mith, @ 2u>ita, !$$5<
7as use0 to assess the affecti5e component of sub>ecti5e 7ell#being. ,he
.,A1 consists of 2B affecti5e a0>ecti5es that ma9e up t7o positi5e ;Joy
Q .%5R, .o5e Q ."2R< an0 four negati5e ;1hame Q ."2R, 2ear Q
."!R, Anger Q ."3R, an0 1a0ness Q ."6R< affect scales. A0>ecti5es are
rate0 on %#point scales, on 7hich participants in0icate ho7 often they felt
each emotion in the past month, from always to never. (iener et al.
ha5e establishe0 the internal consistency an0 con5ergent an0 0iscriminant
li0ity of the .,A1.
F=tra5ersion ; .%6<, conscientiousness ; .%B<, openness ;
."!<, agreeableness ; ."%<, an0 neuroticism ; ."5< 7ere measure0
using eight items each from 1aucierJs ;!$$B< -ini#-ar9ers. 1aucier pre#
sente0 5ali0ity information in the form of principal#components analysis that
mappe0 onto the per5asi5e fi5e#factor theory of personality.
Participants also complete0 the Hrief 1ymptom *n5entory ;H1*A (eroga#
tis @ 1pencer, !$$2< (epression subscale. ,he H1* is a short 5ersion of the
1ymptom Chec9 .ist $0, 7hich assesses self#reports of psychological
0istress ; ."B<. Participants in0icate0 the 0egree to 7hich they e=pe#
rience0 si= 0epression symptoms ;e.g., feeling blue< o5er the past month.
?esponses 7ere ma0e on a 5#point scale ;0 not at all to B etre!ely<.
(erogatis has presente0 research supporting the reliability an0 5ali0ity of the
H1* as a measure of psychological 0istress.
,he !B#item *ntrinsic&F=trinsic ?eligiosity 1cale ;Eorsuch @ -cPher#
son, !$"$< 7as use0 to assess the e=tent to 7hich in0i5i0uals engage in
religious commitments for the sa9e of faith itself ;*ntrinsic ?eligiosity,
.%!< 5ersus using religion as an instrumental means to other en0s ;F=trinsic
?eligiosity, .%"<. Fight items assess intrinsic religiosity on a scale
from ! ;strongly disagree< to 5 ;strongly agree<, an0 si= items
assess e=trinsic religiosity on the same scale. Consistent 7ith other
researchers intereste0 in a5oi0ing the potential Christian bias in some
items ;e.g., Houchar0, -cEue, .y99en, @ ,ellegen, !$$$<, the term
KchurchL 7as replace0 7ith Kreligious ser5ices.L ,he *ntrinsic&F=trinsic
?eligiosity 1cale has been recommen0e0 as the best a5ailable instrument
for research in religion ;Van Dic9lin, !$$0<.
Participants complete0 the 33#item -arlo7e#Cro7ne 1ocial (esirabil#
ity 1cale ;Cro7ne @ -arlo7e, !$60<, a 7i0ely use0 in5entory that assesses the
nee0 to obtain social appro5al using a series of statements concerning
socially 0esirable opinions or beha5iors that most people cannot truthfully
claim to a0here to at all times, as 7ell as !B statements of socially
un0esirable opinions or beha5iors that ha5e been true for most people at
least some of the time ; ."0<. ,hose 7ho respon0 true to many of the
socially 0esirable an0 false to many of the socially un0esirable statements
ha5e a high nee0 for social appro5al that is presume0 to affect their
responses to psychological measures.
2inally, values 7ere measure0 by ha5ing participants ran9 in or0er of
importance 0escriptors of the !0 5alue types ;security, po7er, achie5ement,
he0onism, stimulation, self#0irection, uni5ersalism, bene5olence, tra0ition,
an0 conformity< propose0 by 1ch7art3 an0 1agi5 ;!$$5<. ,hus, analyses
7ere of the relation bet7een scores on -./ scales an0 the relati5e
importance of each 5alue in0i5i0ually, rather than 7ith a full scale score.
1ch7art3Js 5alues scale has recei5e0 consi0erable attention, an0 its psy#
chometric properties ha5e been supporte0 in numerous stu0ies. A pair7ise
comparison form of these !0 5alues has been use0 successfully in the past
;i.e., )ishi, (iener, 1uh, @ .ucas, !$$$<.
"esults and Discussion
,he correlation matri= of the BB items 7as first sub>ecte0 to a
principal#a=is factor analysis ;P2A< 7ith obliCue, 0irect oblimin
rotation ;0eltas 0<. P2A 7as chosen o5er principal#components
analysis because principal#components analysis intro0uces more
spurious common 5ariance into solutions ;Comrey, !$""<, as#
sumes perfect measurement ;2inch @ Dest, !$$%<, an0 is more
appropriate for 0ata re0uction than latent 5ariable i0entification
;2loy0 @ Di0aman, !$$5<. P2A 7ill generally pro0uce results
similar to those of ma=imum li9elihoo0 e=traction ;7hich 7as the
case in these stu0ies 7hen 0uplicate analyses 7ere performe0< an0
is less sensiti5e to nonnormality ;2inch @ Dest, !$$%<.
1cree#plot analysis in0icate0 that as many as si= factors coul0 be
present in the 0ata, 7ith eigen5alues of !!.63, ".0%, 2.03, !."2,
!.5B, an0 !.2%, but strongly suggeste0 the e=istence of t7o 0om#
inant factors. ,he o5erall aim of scale 0e5elopment is to create
A11F11*E -FA*E * .*2F
in0ices of theoretically interesting an0 interpretable constructs.
"esults and Discussion
,herefore, 7e e=amine0 the rotate0 pattern matri= of the initial
item pool 7ith an eye for 7hether the factors focuse0 on important
De assesse0 goo0ness of fit 7ith a 5ariety of fit in0ices, as is
meaning in life#relate0 constructs or 7hether they appeare0 to
focus on e=traneous content. ,he first factor clearly tappe0 the
presence of meaning or purpose in a personJs life. ,he secon0
factor capture0 the search for meaning. ,hese t7o factors 7ere of
substantial theoretical interest gi5en pre5ious research on the pres#
ence of meaning in peopleJs li5es an0 the emphasis on the search
for meaning ;e.g., 2ran9l, !$63A -a00i, !$%0<. 2actors 3, B, an0 5
appeare0 either to be re0un0ant 7ith the presence of meaning
factor, center aroun0 s9epticism regar0ing the e=istence of an
Kultimate meaning of life,L or assess goal 0irecte0ness. ,he si=th
factor consiste0 of one item that loa0e0 more highly on the
re0un0ant meaning in life factor.
e=t, the t7o principal factors 0escribe0 abo5e ;labele0 Pres#
ence an0 1earch< 7ere e=tracte0 from the BB items an0 obliCuely
rotate0. ,o create in0epen0ence bet7een the scales, 7e use0 a
criterion of factor loa0ings abo5e .60 on the inten0e0 factor an0
belo7 .20 on the other factor for item retention ;see Datson, Clar9, @
,ellegen, !$""<. 1e5enteen items met this criterion ;$ on the
Presence subscale, " on the 1earch subscale<. ,hese items 7ere
teste0 an0 further refine0 using C2A in 1tu0y !b.
1tu0y !b
De use0 C2A to further refine the item pool for assessing the
Presence an0 1earch factors. ,he mo0ification in0ices an0 empir#
ical tests of mo0el fit a5ailable in C2A pro5i0e e=cellent informa#
tion for refining an0 re5ising scales ;2loy0 @ Di0aman, !$$5<.
:o7e5er, as mo0ification in0ices from the C2As 7ere use0 to
re5ise the scales, replication in in0epen0ent samples is especially
important ;2loy0 @ Di0aman, !$$5A ?eise et al., 2000<. ,his
replication 7as 0one in 1tu0ies 2 an0 3.
Participants 7ere recruite0 from un0ergra0uate intro0uctory psychology
classes. ,he !5B participants 7ere on a5erage 2!." years of age ;SD 3.$<
an0 mostly female ;%0P<A most 7ere Caucasian ;%$P<, follo7e0 by Asian
;$P<, ati5e American ;BP<, African American ;3P<, Asian American
;2P<, an0 :ispanic ;!P<, 7ith 2P en0orsing Kother.L
,he !% items loa0ing on the Presence an0 1earch factors retaine0 in
1tu0y !a 7ere sub>ecte0 to C2A, using the structural eCuation mo0eling
program A-)1 B.0! ;Arbuc9le, !$$$<.
,able !
7i0ely recommen0e0 ;scores belo7 .$0 in0icate acceptable fit, per
2inch @ Dest, !$$%, e=cept for the root#mean#sCuare error of
appro=imation Q?-1FAR, on 7hich 5alues belo7 .!0 in0icate
a0eCuate fitA Hro7ne @ Cu0ec9, !$$3<. ,hese !% items 0i0 not
achie5e acceptable fit 7ith the t7o#factor mo0el propose0, 2 ;!!",
# !5B< 353."%, p .000! ;goo0ness#of#fit in0e= .%%A
a0>uste0 goo0ness#of#fit in0e= .%!A norme0 fit in0e= .%$A
,uc9er#.e7is in0e= ."3A comparati5e fit in0e= ."5A
?-1FA .!!<. ,hree items ;t7o from the Presence factor, one
from the 1earch factor< 7ere first eliminate0 because they re0uce0
mo0el fit ;mo0ification in0e= !2.0< an0 ha0 lo7 factor loa0ings
;less than .50<, lea5ing a !B#item scale 7ith marginally acceptable fit
in0ices. De then con0ucte0 a C2A 7ith the remaining !B items.
-o0ification in0ices in0icate0 that allo7ing a number of resi0uals to
co5ary an0 eliminating a00itional items from each scale 7oul0
impro5e mo0el fit. (ecisions regar0ing 7hether to follo7 the
mo0ification in0ices 7ere base0 on theoretical consi0erations of
item an0 scale content. De 0i0 not allo7 resi0uals to co5ary,
because there is no theoretical reason to assume associations
among resi0uals. :o7e5er, 7e 0i0 eliminate items if they ha0 lo7
factor loa0ings ; .60< an0 if mo0ification in0ices suggeste0 their
elimination 7oul0 impro5e mo0el fit, 7hether because of substan#
tial co5ariance 7ith the uninten0e0 latent factor or 7ith other
items. egati5ely 7or0e0 items 7ere selecte0 for retention o5er
more highly loa0ing positi5ely 7or0e0 items in the hopes of
ameliorating response sets ;see the Appen0i= for the final, !0#item
2itting items to scales is more 0ifficult than fitting scales to
latent constructs gi5en the greater error 5ariance in single#item
scale scores an0 gi5en that mo0els estimating fe7er parameters are
generally easier to support ;2loy0 @ Di0aman, !$$5<. ,hus, there
is a tension bet7een achie5ing the best mo0el fit an0 inclu0ing a
sufficient number of items to satisfy tra0itional psychometric
concerns, such as internal consistency ;Clar9 @ Datson, !$$5<.
,he mo0el that appeare0 to best balance concerns regar0ing mo0el
fit an0 internal consistency comprise0 fi5e items per scale ;see the
Appen0i=<. ,he best 7ay to 0etermine the Cuality of mo0el fit is
to loo9 for agreement an0 consistency across a number of fit
in0ices ;(ilalla, 2000A 4llman, 200!<. 2it in0ices for the !0#item
mo0el are presente0 in ,able ! an0 o5erall in0icate0 a goo0 fit.
,he Presence an0 1earch factors 7ere slightly intercorrelate0 ;r
.!$<. *n a00ition, internal consistency 7as goo0 for both the
Su!!ary of $it %ndices for Con&r!atory $actor 'nalyses in Studies (-)
1tu0y #
E2* AE2* 2* ,.* C2* *2* ?-1FA ;P&1<
!b !53 5%.6"SS 0.$3 0."$ 0.$3 0.$6 0.$% 0.$% 0.0% ."6&."%
2 2%$ 56.0BSS 0.$% 0.$6 0.$% 0.$" 0.$$ 0.$$ 0.0B ."6&."6
3 B02 !B$.5$SSSS 0.$3 0."$ 0.$2 0.$! 0.$3 0.$3 0.0$ ."2&."%
#ote* C2* comparati5e fit in0e=A *2* incremental fit in0e=A ?-1FA root#mean#sCuare error of
appro=imationA E2* goo0ness#of#fit in0e=A AE2* a0>uste0 goo0ness#of#fit in0e=A 2* norme0 fit in0e=A
,.* ,uc9er#.e7is in0e=. ;P&1< Presence&1earch subscales.
SS p .0!. Sp .00!.
1,FEF?, 2?AO*F?, )*1:*, A( 8A.F?
Presence ;."6< an0 1earch ;."%< subscales. A P2A 7as performe0
to calculate item cross#loa0ings, 7hich are not estimate0 in C2A.
All items loa0e0 more highly on the inten0e0 factor ;.%0 to ."B<
than on the other ;#.!0 to .!3<. A00itional item statistics are
pro5i0e0 for the final !0 items in ,able 2.
Descriptive Statistics
-ean scores 7ere 23.5 ;SD 6.6< an0 23.! ;SD 6.6< on the
-./ Presence ;-./#P< an0 1earch ;-./#1< subscales, respec#
ti5ely. 1cores 7ere slightly abo5e but close to the mi0point of the
scale ;20<. ,he shape of the 0istributions appro=imate0 normality,
an0 scores 7ere 5ariable, as 0emonstrate0 by their stan0ar0
"elations +ith De!ographics
1cores on the -./ Presence an0 1earch subscales 0i0 not 0iffer
across gen0er, race, or religion. either subscale 7as relate0 to
gra0e point a5erage. :o7e5er, Presence ha0 a small positi5e
correlation 7ith age ;r .!%, p .05<.
Convergent ,alidity
Correlations among the final -./ subscales an0 other 5ariables
7ere calculate0 an0 are presente0 in ,able 3. As pre0icte0, Pres#
ence positi5ely correlate0 7ith life satisfaction, positi5e emotions,
intrinsic religiosity, e=tra5ersion, an0 agreeableness an0 nega#
ti5ely correlate0 7ith 0epression, negati5e emotions, an0 neurot#
icism. ,he one une=pecte0 fin0ing 7as the positi5e correlation
bet7een Presence an0 conscientiousness, although this is similar to
fin0ings regar0ing psychological 7ell#being, 7hich inclu0es pur#
pose in life ;8eyes, 1hmot9in, @ ?yff, 2002<. Although the 1earch
subscale o5erall seeme0 unrelate0 to these constructs, it 7as sig#
nificantly positi5ely correlate0 7ith neuroticism, 0epression, an0
se5eral negati5e emotions, consistent 7ith 2ran9l ;!$63, !$65<.
,able 2
Descriptive Statistics for $inal %te! Selection, Study (-
*tem means Correcte0 multiple
1ubscale ;SD< item#scale r correlations
-./ ! B.! ;!.%< .%2 .53
-./ B B.% ;!.5< .%! .52
-./ 5 5.! ;!.3< .66 .BB
-./ 6 B.B ;!.6< .6% .B6
-./ $;r< 5.6 ;!.5< .65 .BB
-./ 2 B.3 ;!.6< .6" .50
-./ 3 5.0 ;!.B< .63 .B2
-./ % B.B ;!.5< .%0 .50
-./ " B." ;!.5< .%0 .50
-./ !0 B.5 ;!.%< .%% .6!
#ote* # !5B. -./ -eaning in .ife /uestionnaire. ;r< in0icates
re5erse#score0 item.
,able 3
Correlations .etween M/0 Su-scales Presence and
Search and 1ther +ell-.eing Measures in Studies (a
and (-
Presence 1earch
.0$ ;."%<
.ife 1atisfaction
.B6SSS .!2
.B0SSS .0B
.B$SSS .0$
.20S .25SSS
.!%S .!B
.20S .!$S
.35SSS .26SSS
.23SS .20S
.2"SSS .0$
.!3 .0$
.!%S .03
.23SS .03
*ntrinsic ?eligiosity
.30SSS .!!
F=trinsic ?eligiosity
.!5 .!2
1ocial (esirability
.0" .02
.0B .02
.02 .!!
.0! .!2
.0% .00
.0! .!5
.03 .!3
.06 .0B
.!B .0$
.06 .!2
.!3 .02
#ote* 1ample si3es 0iffer 0epen0ing on the correlation because not e5#
erybo0y complete0 all measures. -./ -eaning in .ife /uestionnaire.
umbers in parentheses are alpha coefficients.
n 30B.
n !5!.
n !20.
n 2%!.
Sp .05. SS p .0!. SSS p .005.
Discri!inant ,alidity
Consistent 7ith the relati5istic 5alue#free approach use0 in scale
0e5elopment, scores on the -./ subscales 7ere uncorrelate0 7ith the
5alue ran9ings. ,he -./ subscales 7ere also unrelate0 to social
0esirability. ,he nonsignificant relation bet7een meaning an0
e=trinsic religiosity is e5i0ence of 0iscriminant 5ali0ity, be#
cause e=trinsic religiosity 0escribes the component of religious#
ness that is 0i5orce0 from spiritual meaning.
Su!!ary of Studies (a and (-
*n sum, in 1tu0y !a, e=ploratory factor analysis i0entifie0 t7o
in0epen0ent factors, labele0 Presence of -eaning an0 1earch for
-eaning. *n 1tu0y !b, a C2A in0icate0 that the best mo0el 7as
one in 7hich each factor 7as measure0 7ith fi5e items. ,hese t7o
subscales 7ere also sho7n to be internally consistent. *n a00ition,
theoretically e=pecte0 con5ergence 7ith an0 0iscrimination from
other measures 7ere 0ocumente0. ,o assess the robustness of the
factor structure, 7e sought replication in an in0epen0ent sample.
1tu0y 2
Participants 7ere B00 stu0ents recruite0 from intro0uctory psychology
classes, mostly 7omen ;5$P<. -ost 7ere Caucasian ;%%P<, follo7e0 by
A11F11*E -FA*E * .*2F
Asian or Asian American ;!0P<, an0 African American ;BP<, 7ith !P
each for ati5e American an0 :ispanic. ,heir mean age 7as !$.% years
;SD 3.0<. Participants complete0 a short sur5ey pac9et inclu0ing the
!0#item -./, as 7ell as the last B -./ items to be eliminate0 in 1tu0y
!b, to allo7 testing of alternate factor structures in the e5ent of poor mo0el
"esults and Discussion
All analyses 7ere performe0 on the !0#item -./. -ean scores
7ere 23." ;SD 5.$< an0 23.B ;SD 6.3< on the Presence an0
1earch subscales, respecti5ely, an0 the scales 7ere internally con#
sistent ;see ,able ! for alphas<. ,he same factorial mo0el 7as
teste0 in this stu0y as in 1tu0y !b 7ith C2A using A-)1 B.0!
;Arbuc9le, !$$$<. ,he C2A path estimate in0icate0 a stronger
relation bet7een Presence an0 1earch than obser5e0 in 1tu0y !
; .2"<. 2actor loa0ings 7ere robust ;bet7een .65 an0 ."3 on
their inten0e0 factors<, an0 fit in0ices in0icate0 a goo0 fit of the
mo0el to the 0ata ;see ,able !<. ,his stu0y pro5i0es a replication
of the t7o#factor structure of the -./.
1ummary of 1tu0ies ! an0 2
*n contrast to pre5ious meaning in life scales, the -./ has a
robust factor structure, replicate0 by C2A in an in0epen0ent sam#
ple. ,he Presence of -eaning subscale measures the sub>ecti5e
sense that oneJs life is meaningful, 7hereas 1earch for -eaning
measures the 0ri5e an0 orientation to7ar0 fin0ing meaning in
oneJs life. Hoth subscales ha5e 0emonstrate0 goo0 internal con#
sistency ; s ."6#.""<. 1cale construction 7as geare0 to7ar0
creating some7hat orthogonal factors, selecting items that loa0e0
highly on the inten0e0 factor an0 minimally on the other factor.
,his enables the assessment of these t7o 0istinct constructs, the
search for meaning an0 the presence of meaning.
,he relati5e in0epen0ence of these t7o subscales creates an
apparent conceptual para0o=, ho7e5er. Dhy 7oul0 someone re#
port searching for something they alrea0y ha5eM Dhy 7oul0nJt
someone search for meaning if he or she reporte0 not ha5ing anyM
F=emplars of in0i5i0uals 7ho continue0 to search for greater
meaning in their li5es 7hile alrea0y li5ing li5es of 0eep purpose
are rea0ily a5ailable ;e.g., Ean0hi<. Another line of thin9ing sug#
gests that if those 7ho 0eri5e meaning from more sources in their
li5es fare better ;Haumeister, !$$!<, then those 7ho report ha5ing
meaning might still continue to search for a00itional sources of
meaning. Alternati5ely, the search for meaning coul0 be a 0esire
for a 0eeper or more gratifying un0erstan0ing of 7hat ma9es oneJs
life meaningful. 2inally, it coul0 also be the case that the elements
that gi5e meaning to a personJs life fluctuate o5er time. 2or
instance, one coul0 0eri5e a great 0eal of meaning from training
for a first marathon but fin0 that upon its conclusion, one has a
0esire to fin0 something else to ma9e life feel meaningful, 7ithout
necessarily e=periencing meaninglessness.
,he Presence an0 1earch subscales correlate0 generally as e=#
pecte0 7ith other 7ell#being an0 psychological 5ariables, 7ith the
magnitu0e of correlations in 1tu0y !b generally in0icating that
Presence shares less than 25P of its 5ariance 7ith other measures.
,his is in contrast to other meaning measures, 7hich often appear
to share more than 50P of their 5ariance 7ith other measures ;e.g.,
Oi9a @ Chamberlain, !$"%<. Hecause one of the criticisms of
meaning measures is that they are confoun0e0 7ith other con#
structs ;e.g., (yc9, !$"%<, a more formal test of the 0iscriminant
5ali0ity of the -./ 7as 0esire0. )f particular importance 7as a
comparati5e analysis of the relations among the -./ scales, other
meaning in life scales, an0 other 7ell#being 5ariables.
1tu0y 3
,he purposes of this stu0y 7ere ;a< to further establish the
con5ergent an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity of the -./ subscales an0 ;b<
to compare the 0iscriminant 5ali0ity of meaning measures ;i.e.,
-./ Presence, P*., an0 .?*<. De use0 a multitrait#multimetho0
matri= ;-,--< 0esign, 7hich allo7s for a comprehensi5e anal#
ysis of con5ergent an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity ;Campbell @ 2is9e,
!$5$<. Con5ergent 5ali0ity is 0emonstrate0 by significant correla#
tions bet7een 0ifferent metho0s of measuring the same trait
;monotrait#heterometho0<. (iscriminant 5ali0ity reCuires a
lengthier set of comparisons, all of 7hich essentially 0emonstrate
higher correlations among metho0s of assessing the same trait as
compare0 7ith those measuring 0ifferent traits ;either heterotrait#
monometho0 or heterotrait#heterometho0<. ,he t7o metho0s 7ere
participantJs self#report an0 informant report. Participants com#
plete0 the -./ an0 a 5ariety of other meaning an0 7ell#being
measures at t7o time points ;! month apart<. *nformant reports of
all the measures 7ere obtaine0 once, bet7een ,imes ! an0 2.
Con5ergent 5ali0ity in an -,-- stu0y is establishe0 7hen
0ifferent metho0s of measuring the same trait are significantly
relate0. ,hus, self#reports on the Presence an0 1earch subscales
7ere e=pecte0 to be significantly positi5ely correlate0 7ith infor#
mant reports on those same subscales. Hecause the Presence sub#
scale 7as 0esigne0 to measure the same construct as the .?* an0
the P*., significant correlations bet7een self# an0 informant re#
ports on the -./#P an0 the t7o other meaning measures 7oul0
in0icate con5ergent 5ali0ity as 7ell. Very large ; .%0< relations
7ere e=pecte0 among self#reports of the -./#P, .?*, an0 P*..
(iscriminant 5ali0ity 7oul0 be establishe0 if 0ifferent metho0s
of assessing the presence an0 search for meaning 7ere more highly
relate0 to each other than to metho0s of assessing 0ifferent traits.
F5i0ence of 0iscriminant 5ali0ity coul0 be obtaine0 by inclu0ing
measures of a theoretically unrelate0 trait, such as social 0esirabil#
ity, in an -,--. *nclu0ing measures of relate0 but 0ifferent traits
7oul0 yiel0 a more robust test. ,hus, measures of life satisfaction,
self#esteem, an0 optimism, 7hich o5erlap theoretically 7ith mean#
ing in life, 7ere inclu0e0. 2or e=ample, one may be incline0 to
en0orse a 5ariety of 7ell#being 5ariables, potentially inclu0ing
meaning, if one generally regar0s oneself highly. Con5ersely, if
one feels 0issatisfie0 7ith oneJs life, one may be incline0 to search
for alternati5es, inclu0ing a search for meaning in life. ,he -./
subscales 7ere e=pecte0 to correlate 7ith other 7ell#being scales,
in accor0ance 7ith pre5ious research using these subscales ;i.e.,
small to me0ium effect si3es for the -./#1 an0 me0ium to large
effect si3es for the -./#P<. Correlations of these si3es 7oul0
in0icate significant relations but 7oul0 not suggest confoun0ing
7ith 7ell#being 5ariables. Also, the 1earch subscale 7as e=pecte0
to be uncorrelate0, or to e=hibit small effect si3es, 7ith the mean#
ing measures, supporting its relati5e in0epen0ence from meaning
in life. *n a00ition, the -./#P subscale 7as e=pecte0 to correlate
more highly 7ith other meaning measures than 7ith 7ell#being
measures. ,hese fin0ings 7oul0 pro5i0e strong support for the
1,FEF?, 2?AO*F?, )*1:*, A( 8A.F?
0iscriminant 5ali0ity of the -./#P as a measure of meaning in
life, as oppose0 to other forms of 7ell#being.
Hecause of pre5ious 7or9 highlighting possible confoun0ing 7ith
other constructs in the t7o most commonly use0 measures of meaning
in life, the secon0 aim of this stu0y 7as to compare the 0iscriminant
5ali0ity of the -./#P, the P*., an0 the .?*. ,he correlations
bet7een the P*. an0 the .?* an0 other 7ell#being measures 7ere
e=pecte0 to occasionally e=cee0 the correlations bet7een self#report
an0 informant report on these t7o scales. ,his 7oul0 in0icate a lac9 of
a0eCuate 0iscriminant 5ali0ity for these t7o scales.
Participants and Procedure
Participants 7ere recruite0 from a large uni5ersity an0 a large community
college from the -inneapolis metropolitan area. 1e5enty participants ;mean
age 2!.!, SD 5.2< complete0 both the ,ime ! an0 ,ime 2 pac9ets an0
returne0 informant pac9ets. Participants 7ere mostly female ;63P< an0 Cau#
casian ;%5P<, follo7e0 by Asian ;"P<, Asian American ;BP<, African Amer#
ican ;3P<, an0 :ispanic ;3P<, 7ith !P reporting ati5e American an0 6P
reporting Kother.L -ost participants 7ere Protestant ;3BP< or Catholic ;30PA
all other religions less than 6P<. All target participants complete0 a pac9et of
sur5eys at t7o times, separate0 by ! month, in large groups. Participants 7ere
as9e0 to obtain informant reports from three or four people 7ho 9ne7 them
7ell ;e.g., frien0s, parents, or siblings<. *nformants ;n 252< 7ere some7hat
ol0er an0 more 5arie0 in age than target participants ;mean age 26.5, SD
!2.2<. ,hey 7ere mostly un0ergra0uate stu0ents ;63P< an0 female ;63P<A
most 7ere Caucasian ;"2P<, follo7e0 by Asian ;6P<, Asian American ;BP<,
an0 African American ;2P<, 7ith !P each reporting ati5e American an0
:ispanic, an0 BP reporting Kother.L
-ost informants 7ere Catholic ;3$P< or Protestant ;3!PA all other
religions less than BP<. *nformants 7ere instructe0 to respon0 in the
manner they thought their frien0 or family member 7oul0 respon0 if they
7ere filling out the sur5ey about themsel5es. *nformants 7ere as9e0 to
inscribe the initials of the target participant se5eral times 0uring the
instructions an0 again prior to completing each scale. *nformants fille0 out
sur5ey pac9ets on their o7n time. *n a00ition to the pac9et of sur5eys they
7ere to complete about the stu0y targets, informants 7ere gi5en self#report
5ersions of the -./.
Participant ,ime ! an0 informant self#reporte0 scores on the -./ 7ere
combine0 to pro5i0e a sample for the replication of the t7o#factor structure.
,he a5erage age of the combine0 sample ;targets an0 informantsA 6!P female<
7as 2B.B years ;SD !0.B<. ,hus, the combine0 sample ;# B0!< 7as ol0er
an0 more 0i5ersely age0 than the samples in 1tu0ies !a, !b, an0 2. )nly B%P
of the participants complete0 both sur5ey pac9ets an0 returne0 at least three
informant reports ;%0 out of !B$ 7ho complete0 the ,ime ! sur5ey<. ,hose
7ho returne0 at least three reports 0i0 not 0iffer from those 7ho 0i0 not in
gen0er, age, race, religious affiliation, or year in school.
Participants in0icate0 their age, gen0er, religion, an0 gra0e point a5erage
an0 also complete0 the -./ an0 1D.1 ;(iener et al., !$"5<, 7hich 7ere
pre5iously 0escribe0. *n a00ition, sur5ey pac9ets inclu0e0 the follo7ing
,he .?* ;Hattista @ Almon0, !$%3< is a 2"#item scale that assesses
positi5e life regar0, 0efine0 as the e=tent to 7hich a person has a 5alue0 life
frame7or9, or meaning structure, an0 feels that this frame7or9 is being
fulfille0. ,he .?* has t7o !B#item subscales that purport to measure the
frame7or9 an0 fulfillment aspects of life regar0, although the 0ifficulty of
obtaining appropriate factorial fit has le0 to the recommen0ation that the
scale be use0 uni0imensionally ;:arris @ 1tan0ar0, 200!<. ,he .?* has
consistently 0emonstrate0 e=cellent internal consistency ;e.g., Oi9a @
Chamberlain, !$$2<. ?eliability 0ata for this an0 all other scales use0 in
1tu0y 3 are reporte0 in ,able B.
,he 20#item P*. ;Crumbaugh @ -aholic9, !$6B< is the most 7i0ely
use0 meaning in life scale, 0espite the concerns 0escribe0 pre5iously
regar0ing confoun0ing 7ith other 5ariables an0 problems 7ith its factorial
structure. onetheless, the scale has generally 0emonstrate0 goo0 con5er#
gent 5ali0ity 7ith measures of 7ell#being an0 0istress, as 7ell as goo0
internal consistency ;e.g., Oi9a @ Chamberlain, !$$2<. ,he P*. pro5i0es
participants 7ith uniCue anchors for each item, some of 7hich are bipolar,
some of 7hich are unipolar, an0 some of 7hich pro5i0e an in0eterminate
continuum ;i.e., K*f * coul0 choose, * 7oul0 . . . K Kprefer ne5er to ha5e been
bornL through Kli5e nine more li5es >ust li9e this oneL<.
Participants also complete0 the .ife )rientation ,est ;.),A 1cheier @
Car5er, !$"5<, a commonly use0 !2#item measure of optimism. ?espon#
0ents in0icate0 the e=tent to 7hich they agree0 or 0isagree0 7ith B
positi5ely 7or0e0, B negati5ely 7or0e0, an0 B filler items. ,he .), has
0emonstrate0 goo0 5ali0ity an0 reliability ;see 1cheier @ Car5er, !$"5<.
2inally, pac9ets inclu0e0 the ?osenberg 1elf#Fsteem ,est ;?1F,A
?osenberg, !$65<, a 7i0ely accepte0 !0#item measure assessing the pos#
iti5ity of self#regar0 on a B#point scale ranging from strongly disagree to
strongly agree. ,he ?1F, has 0emonstrate0 reliability an0 5ali0ity in a
large number of stu0ies ;e.g., .ucas et al., !$$6<.
"esults and Discussion
-ean scores for target participants at ,ime ! on the Presence
an0 1earch subscales 7ere 2B.0 ;SD 5.6< an0 22.5 ;SD 6.2<,
respecti5ely. 4ni5ersity stu0ents 0i0 not 0iffer from community
college stu0ents, an0 participants 7ho 0roppe0 out after ,ime !
0i0 not 0iffer on any of the meaning or 7ell#being 5ariables ;all
ps .!5<. 1cores 0i0 not 0iffer across gen0er, race, or year in
school. Presence scores 0iffere0 across religion, $;%, !33< 2.3$,
p .05, 7ith participants en0orsing KotherL religions scoring
higher than Protestants, Catholics, atheists, or agnostics, an0 ag#
nostics scoring lo7er than -uslims. 1earch 7as relate0 to gra0e
point a5erage ;r .2!, p .05<, an0 as in 1tu0y !, Presence 7as
relate0 to age ;r .20, p .05<. ,his latter relation is in
concor0ance 7ith other fin0ings ;e.g., ?e9er @ 2ry, 2003<. ,he
mean scores for informantsJ self#reports of the -./ 7ere 2B."
;SD 5.6< for Presence an0 2!." ;SD 6.$< for 1earch.
C$' of M/0 Structure in a "eplication Sa!ple
C2A on the combine0 sample 7as performe0 using A-)1 B.0!
;Arbuc9le, !$$$<. 2actor loa0ings 7ere all high ;.55 to ."B<. 2it
in0ices 7ere acceptable ;see ,able !<. ,he marginal ?-1FA an0
a0>uste0 goo0ness#of#fit in0e= in0icate a lac9 of full parsimony,
suggesting that fe7er items might reflect the factor structure 7ith
similar accuracy ;(ilalla, 2000A 2inch @ Dest, !$$%<. :o7e5er, as
state0 abo5e, fi5e items per scale 7as 0esire0 to maintain internal
consistency. Hoth Presence ; ."2< an0 1earch ; ."%<
0isplaye0 goo0 reliability in the aggregate sample.
"elia-ility for the M/0 and 1ther Meaning Measures
,he alpha coefficients for the target self#reports on the -./#P an0
-./#1 7ere ."! an0 ."B 0uring ,ime !, respecti5ely, an0 ."6 an0 .$2
0uring ,ime 2, representing goo0 internal consistency. )ne#month
test#retest stability coefficients 7ere goo0 ;.%0 for the -./#P, .%3 for
the -./#1<. ,he P*. ;."6< an0 .?* ;."%< also sho7e0 goo0 temporal
stability an0 goo0 internal consistency ;."" an0 .$3, respecti5ely<.
A11F11*E -FA*E * .*2F
,able B
Multitrait-Multi!ethod Correlation Matri of Meaning in /ife and +ell-.eing Measures in Study 2
! 2 3 B 5 6 % " $ !0 !! !2 !3 !B !5 !6 !% !" !$ 20 2!
!. -./#P *3(2
2. P*. .606 *345
3. .?* .65$ ."0B *6)7
B. 1D. .B!! .6"6 .600 *355
5. F1, .3%2 .6B3 .6$% .553 *3)8
6. .), .3%0 .6"0 .66B .502 .60% *398
%. -./#1 .2B! .!%$ .302 .23$ .305 .!%B *327
". f-./#P *93) .2B3 .2"! .!52 .!$% .2%" .2!B *454
$. fP*. .26% *299 .B2$ .3$! .3$0 .36B .22% .2$" *386
!0. f.?* .305 .B!3 *284 .35B .335 .B!6 .3!! .3"3 .B2% *6()
!!. f1D. .!"% .3"B .3"6 *223 .320 .2$5 .253 .25! .B5% .35$ *39(
!2. fF1, .!"B .335 .3"! .3B2 *)86 .33B .235 .263 .B03 .B!% .3%! *387
!3. f.), .!B" .2B! .2$! .25" .236 *)87 .206 .2B2 .320 .3%$ .2$B .3B6 *32(
!B. f-./#1 .!!5 .!3B .!"0 .202 .!"$ .035 *)73 .!35 .0$% .!35 .2!5 .!"" .!23 *354
!5.2-./#P *866 .5$% .66% .B"B .3$6 .B$! .3!6 *)67 .2$6 .B6B .2%$ .223 .25! .!B0 *355
!6.2P*. .5"2 *38( .%"0 .6B% .5$2 .6%3 .205 .2%% *225 .B"$ .B3$ .356 .3BB .0B% .%0" *335
!%.2.?* .5$% .%"! *388 .5$6 .65! .%0" .22$ .32$ .B3$ *594 .B!B .366 .3"! .0$5 .%B2 ."62 *62(
!".21D. .3%5 .60$ .5$0 *463 .B5B .50" .3B3 .226 .35! .B23 *29( .3!! .3B% .!2$ .55" .%B6 .653 *356
!$.2F1, .3B" .6B" .60$ .5B2 *3(6 .556 .2!3 .!30 .326 .302 .32% *)8( .2B2 .0$! .3"0 .6$3 .6%2 .560 *35)
20.2.), .B06 .6!$ .6$2 .B$6 .5$0 *3(2 .!BB .25" .35% .BB6 .332 .3B0 *2(3 .0%B .56" .%B2 .%$0 .5"0 .6!% *33)
2!.2-./#1 .3B0 .25! .33$ .3%5 .326 .26! *495 .223 .22B .336 .26B .2$B .30B *)57 .2$6 .20$ .303 .2%6 .2!" .!B6*6(5
#ote* Correlations are base0 on %0 participants ;the number of participants 7ho complete0 both ,ime ! an0 2 reports an0 returne0 at least three informant
pac9ets<. Correlations abo5e .!$" are significant at p .05. -./ -eaning in .ife /uestionnaire. ,ime ! target self#reports are -./#P
-./#PresenceA P*. Purpose in .ife ,estA .?* .ife ?egar0 *n0e=A 1D. 1atisfaction 7ith .ife 1caleA F1, ?osenberg 1elf#Fsteem *n5entoryA .),
.ife )rientation ,est ;optimism<A an0 -./#1 -./#1earch. *nformant ?eports are f-./#PA fP*.A f.?*A f1D.A fF1,A f.),A an0 f-./#1. f in0icates
frien0. ,ime 2 target self#reports are 2-./#PA 2P*.A 2.?*A 21D.A 2F1,A 2.),A an0 2-./#1. 2 in0icates ,ime 2. Hol0 italics in0icate scores on same measures
using 0ifferent metho0s or at retest. *talics in0icate alpha coefficients an0 are on the 0iagonal.
Consistent 7ith .ucas et al. ;!$$6<, all other 7ell#being measures ;life
satisfaction, optimism, self#esteem< also sho7e0 goo0 test#retest re#
liability an0 internal consistency ;see ,able B<.
Convergent and Discri!inant ,alidity 'nalysis
Hi5ariate correlation coefficients 7ere compute0 bet7een all
concurrently an0 longitu0inally collecte0 self#report measures. ,o
compute correlation 5alues for target self#reports an0 informant
reports at ,ime ! an0 ,ime 2, the correlations bet7een informant
an0 self#report ratings 7ere first compute0 for each informant
separately. )nly 0ata from participants 7ith three or more infor#
mant reports 7ere use0 to calculate con5ergence bet7een targets
an0 informants. Among the %0 participants 7ho turne0 in three or
more informant pac9ets, !B turne0 in four. ,hree pac9ets 7ere
ran0omly selecte0 for each of these !B participants. ,hus, target
self#report scores 7ere correlate0 7ith three informant scores for
each participant. ,he a5erage of these three correlation coefficients
7as then entere0 into the matri=. A5erage coefficients representing
informant#informant correlations 7ere calculate0 by ta9ing the
a5erage of nine coefficients ;3 informants 3 informants<. A5#
erage0 correlations pro5i0e a more accurate estimate of relation#
ships than creating Kcomposite informantsL ;e.g., 1an05i9, (iener,
@ 1ie0lit3, !$$3< because the aggregation of multiple informant
scores can inflate reporte0 relationships, 7hereas a5eraging the
correlations better represents the actual obser5e0 relationships
;-alloy, Albright, 8enny, Agatstein, @ DinCuist, !$$%<. ,he full
correlation matri= is sho7n in ,able B.
De performe0 se5eral of the typical comparisons 0escribe0 by
Campbell an0 2is9e ;!$5$<. :o7e5er, t7o specific aspects of this
-,-- cause0 us to alter our comparison strategy. ,he first 7as
the inclusion of t7o other measures of meaning in life, as 0is#
cusse0 pre5iously, 7hich enable0 us to test the con5ergent 5ali0ity
of the -./#P using the .?* an0 P*. as a00itional measures of
meaning in life. ,he secon0 aspect 7as that the ,ime 2 a0minis#
tration 7as not a completely in0epen0ent metho0, because it use0
the same self#report format as ,ime !. ,hus, 7e treate0 the ,ime
! an0 ,ime 2 reports as the same metho0. Hecause of this, 7e
compare0 the 5ali0ity 0iagonals ;the con5ergence of scores on the
same measure across metho0s, or monotrait#heterometho0 5aluesA
Campbell @ 2is9e, !$5$< at both ,ime ! an0 ,ime 2 7ith all of the
correlations bet7een self# an0 informant reports ;i.e., all of the
heterotrait#heterometho0 an0 heterotrait#monometho0 5alues for
the -./ subscales<. ,hus, instea0 of comparing self# an0 infor#
mant report correlations at ,ime ! 7ith informant reports an0
,ime ! reports only, 7e also compare0 them 7ith ,ime 2 reports.
,his strategy le0 to more comparisons, but in a00ition, it both
pro5i0e0 a most rigorous test of 0iscriminant 5ali0ity an0 seeme0
a more accurate reflection of the high 0egree of o5erlap bet7een
the ,ime ! self#report an0 the retest ! month later. De first present
e5i0ence for the -./#P, follo7e0 by the -./#1.
1,FEF?, 2?AO*F?, )*1:*, A( 8A.F?
Convergent and Discri!inant ,alidity for the
Convergent validity -etween target and infor!ant
reports on the
M/0-P* ,o establish con5ergent 5ali0ity, self#reports shoul0 be
correlate0 7ith informant reports. Hoth the ,ime ! ;.2"< an0 ,ime
2 ;.3$< monotrait#heterometho0 correlations bet7een self# an0
informant reports on the -./#P 7ere significant.
Convergent validity with other !eaning
!easures* Hecause
they purport to measure the same construct, the -./#P shoul0 be
significantly correlate0 7ith the .?* an0 P*.. All eight self#report
correlations ;i.e., t7o correlations bet7een ,ime ! -./#P an0
,ime ! P*. an0 .?*, t7o bet7een ,ime ! -./#P an0 ,ime 2
meaning measures, t7o bet7een ,ime 2 -./#P an0 ,ime 2
measures, an0 t7o bet7een ,ime 2 -./#P an0 ,ime ! measures<
bet7een the -./#P an0 the P*. an0 .?* 7ere significant an0
range0 from .5" to .%B. ,hese correlations 7ere higher than Co#
henJs ;!$$2< con5entions for large effect si3es. Correlations
among self# an0 informant reports shoul0 also be significant for
these measures. All four heterometho0 correlations bet7een the
-./#P an0 the other meaning measures 7ere significant an0
range0 from .2$ to .3". ,hus, these t7o tests pro5i0e e5i0ence of
the con5ergent 5ali0ity of the -./#P.
Discri!inant validity of the M/0-P* 1elf#report scores
on the
-./#P 7ere e=pecte0 to correlate more highly 7ith self#reports
on other meaning measures than 7ith self#reports on 7ell#being
measures ;i.e., self#esteem, life satisfaction, optimism<. ,he test#
retest coefficient for the -./#P 7as .%0, an0 the a5erage corre#
lation of the -./#P 7ith other meaning measures 7as .65. ,hese
correlations 7ere in all cases higher than the self#report correla#
tions bet7een the -./#P an0 the 7ell#being scales, the a5erage
correlations for 7hich 7ere .3" ;,ime !<, .50 ;,ime 2<, an0 .B2
;,ime ! to ,ime 2<.
,o further establish 0iscriminant 5ali0ity, scores on the -./#P
assesse0 7ith 0ifferent metho0s ;monotrait#heterometho0< shoul0
correlate more highly 7ith each other than they 0o 7ith scores on
the 7ell#being measures assesse0 using 0ifferent metho0s
;heterotrait#heterometho0<. As reporte0 pre5iously, the correla#
tions bet7een self# an0 informant reports for the -./#P 7ere .2"
an0 .3$. Correlations of self#reports 7ith informant reports be#
t7een the -./#P an0 7ell#being scales 7ere in all cases lo7er
;bet7een .!$ Q,ime !R an0 .23 Q,ime 2R, 7ith a mean correlation
of .2!<. ,hese correlations 7ere also lo7er than the heterometho0
correlations bet7een the -./#P an0 the other meaning measures,
7hich range0 bet7een .2% ;,ime !< an0 .3B ;,ime 2<. *nformant
an0 both ,ime ! an0 ,ime 2 self#report correlations 7ere higher
among the -./#P an0 other meaning measures than among the
-./#P an0 other 7ell#being measures in $!P ;"%&$6< of com#
parisons, supporting the 0iscriminant 5ali0ity of the -./#P. *n
contrast, only 5!P ;B$&$6< of these comparisons 7ere successful
for the P*., an0 only 5"P ;56&$6< 7ere successful for the .?*.
,his in0icates a failure of these t7o measures to a0eCuately
0iscriminate from other 7ell#being constructs.
F5i0ence from informant reports also supporte0 the 0iscrimi#
nant 5ali0ity of the -./#P, 7ith informant#informant correla#
tions bet7een the -./#P an0 the P*. ;.30< an0 the .?* ;.3"<
e=cee0ing those bet7een the -./#P an0 the 1D.1 ;.25<, ?1F,
;.26<, an0 .), ;.2B<. ,hus, it appeare0 that the -./#P 0iscrim#
inate0 from other types of 7ell#being e5en among informants. *n
contrast, the informant#informant correlations bet7een the P*.
an0 -./#P ;.30< an0 .?* ;.B3< e=cee0e0 some of the correlations
bet7een the P*. an0 1D.1 ;.B6<, ?1F, ;.B0<, an0 .), ;.32< for
only t7o of si= successful comparisons. ,he .?* 0i0 better, 7ith
informant#informant correlations 7ith the -./#P ;.3"< an0 P*.
;.B3< e=cee0ing or matching those 7ith the 1D.1 ;.36<, ?1F,
;.B2<, an0 .), ;.3"< in all but one comparison.
A stringent test of 0iscriminant 5ali0ity suggeste0 by Campbell an0
2is9e ;!$5$< is a comparison bet7een monotrait#heterometho0 cor#
relations ;i.e., self#reports an0 informant reports for the same trait< an0
correlations 7ith other traits measure0 by the same metho0
;heterotrait#monometho0<, reasoning that assessments of the same
traits by 0ifferent metho0s shoul0 be more similar than assessments of
0ifferent traits by the same metho0 ;correlations that might share only
metho0 5ariance<. De compare0 the correlation bet7een ,ime !
self#reports an0 informant reports for the -./#P both 7ith concur#
rent self#report correlations bet7een the -./#P an0 7ell#being mea#
sures an0 7ith the correlations among informant reports on the
-./#P an0 on 7ell#being measures. De also ma0e parallel compar#
isons using ,ime 2 reports an0 informant reports. At ,ime ! the
self#informant correlation for the -./#P ;.2"< e=cee0e0 one of four
self#report correlations an0 all four informant report correlations be#
t7een the -./#P an0 7ell#being measures. At ,ime 2, the self#
informant correlation for the -./#P ;.3$< e=cee0e0 t7o of four
self#report an0 all four informant report correlations bet7een the
-./#P an0 7ell#being measures, for an o5erall success rate of !!&!6
at ,imes ! an0 2. 1ome7hat lo7er success rates 7ere obser5e0 for the
P*. ;"&!6< an0 .?* ;!0&!6<.
Co!parison of Meaning Measures
*n a00ition to 0ifferences in 0iscriminant 5ali0ity among the
measures pre5iously note0, the a5erage concurrent correlations
7ith 7ell#being measures 7ere much larger for the P*. ;.%0< an0
.?* ;.6"< than for the -./#P ;.BB<. ,hus, the P*. an0 .?*
appeare0 to 0isplay e=cessi5e o5erlap 7ith other measures of
7ell#being, replicating pre5ious results ;Oi9a @ Chamberlain,
!$"%, !$$2< an0 supporting criticisms of these measures ;e.g.,
(yc9, !$"%<.
)ne strength of the P*. an0 .?*, ho7e5er, appeare0 to be that
a5erage correlations bet7een self#reports an0 informant reports
7ere some7hat higher than for the -./#P ;P*. mean r .B3,
.?* mean r .50, -./#P mean r .3B<, an0 both the P*. an0
the .?* 0emonstrate0 e=cellent con5ergent 5ali0ity o5erall. :o7#
e5er, their 0iscriminant 5ali0ity 7as of Cuestionable Cuality. *n this
regar0, the -./ is superior to pre5ious scales.
Convergent and Discri!inant ,alidity for the M/0-S
2e7er analyses are pro5i0e0 for the -./#1 because multiple
measures of the search for meaning are not a5ailable. ,hus, only
basic con5ergent an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity e5i0ence is presente0.
Convergent validity of the M/0-S* F5i0ence of
5ali0ity for the -./#1 7as pro5i0e0 by the significant correla#
tions bet7een self# an0 informant reports on the -./#1 at ,ime !
;.3!< an0 ,ime 2 ;.35<.
Discri!inant validity of the M/0-S* (iscriminant
5ali0ity is
supporte0 7hen correlations bet7een self# an0 informant reports
for the -./#1 e=cee0 heterometho0 correlations 7ith other mea#
sures. ,he a5erage correlation bet7een self# an0 informant reports
A11F11*E -FA*E * .*2F
on the -./#1 7as .33. ,hese correlations 7ere higher than the
self#informant correlations bet7een the -./#1 an0 meaning an0
7ell#being measures $6P of the time, supporting the 0iscriminant
5ali0ity of this scale.
,he more stringent test of 0iscriminant 5ali0ity compare0
monotrait#heterometho0 correlations ;self#informant correlations<
on the -./#1 7ith the heterotrait#monometho0 correlations ;e.g.,
7ithin ,ime ! self#reports or informant#informant correlations<
bet7een the -./#1 an0 other measures. -ost ;""P< of these
comparisons fa5ore0 the 0iscriminant 5ali0ity of the -./#1.
1tu0y 3 supporte0 the con5ergent an0 0iscriminant 5ali0ity of
both -./ subscales. ,he -./#P 7as also sho7n to ha5e better
0iscriminant 5ali0ity than t7o often#use0 meaning measures.
Eeneral (iscussion
F5i0ence from three stu0ies 0emonstrates that the t7o subscales
of the -./ appear to represent reliable, structurally soun0 mea#
sures of the presence of meaning an0 the search for meaning. 2irst,
in contrast to other meaning measures, the factor structure of the
-./ 7as replicate0 in t7o in0epen0ent samples using C2A. ,he
relati5e in0epen0ence of the t7o subscales, as 7ell as their 0iffer#
ing patterns of correlations 7ith other measures, means that for the
first time, the presence of meaning can be assesse0 separately from
the search for meaning. 1econ0, the Presence subscale correlates
as e=pecte0 7ith a number of 7ell#being, personality, an0 religi#
osity 5ariables. 2urthermore, an -,-- matri= stu0y 0emon#
strate0 that the -./#P possesses better 0iscriminant 5ali0ity than
the t7o most often use0 meaning measures, the P*. an0 the .?*.
,he -./#1 also 7as supporte0 as being a measure 0istinct from
other aspects of 7ell#being an0 meaning.
*n sum, the -./ represents a number of impro5ements o5er
e=isting measures of meaning, inclu0ing more precise measure#
ment, greater structural stability, an0 assessment of the search for
meaning. As a final benefit, especially to large#scale or longitu0i#
nal stu0ies or therapeutic outcome uses, the -./ subscales con#
tain only fi5e items yet ha5e 0emonstrate0 psychometric properties
comparable or superior to those of longer meaning in life scales.
,he high con5ergent correlations ;.6!#.%B< bet7een the -./#P
an0 other meaning measures in0icate that they are tapping the
same construct. ,hus, gi5en its bre5ity an0 unconfoun0e0 mea#
surement of meaning, the -./ appears to be a superior choice for
e=ploring the theoretical space an0 functioning of meaning in life.
,he principal benefit of using better measurement in the in5es#
tigation of meaning in life is that it enables more accurate estima#
tion of the true relationship bet7een meaning an0 relate0 con#
structs. 2or instance, one fin0ing common to both the .?* an0 the
P*. is that peopleJs le5els of reporte0 meaning appear to increase
follo7ing psychotherapy. 4ntil no7, it has been impossible to
untangle the contributions ma0e to these changes in meaning by
re0uce0 0epression or an=iety, or increase0 life satisfaction, or any
of the other constructs that ha5e been cite0 as potential confoun0s.
1tu0y 3 in0icates that the -./ is free of inor0inate co5ariance
7ith se5eral other measures of 7ell#being. A00itional correlations
presente0 in0icate that the -./ is not e=cessi5ely correlate0 7ith
affect, religiosity, an0 5alues or 0epression, an=iety, an0 hostility.
-eaning in life can be 5ie7e0 as a correlate, component, cause, or
outcome of 7ell#being. Dithout the ability to measure 0istinct
constructs, our ability to e=plore their theoretical an0 causal spaces is
se5erely hampere0 ;see 8ash0an, 200B, for a similar 0iscussion
regar0ing sub>ecti5e 7ell#being measurement<.
,he stu0ies presente0 here echo pre5ious fin0ings that feeling
oneJs life is meaningful is important to human functioning. *n
these an0 other stu0ies ;e.g., Deinstein @ Cleanthous, !$$6A Oi9a
@ Chamberlain, !$$2< those 7ho felt their life to be meaningful
7ere less 0epresse0 an0 felt greater satisfaction 7ith their li5es,
greater self#esteem an0 optimism, an0 more positi5e affect. *n
a00ition, those 7ho e=perience meaning in their li5es are more
li9ely to be personally in5ol5e0 in their religious acti5ities. -ean#
ing seems to be an in0icator of a healthy an0 appreciate0 life an0
0eser5es greater attention in empirical in5estigations of human
functioning. A less clear picture emerges regar0ing those 7ho are
searching for meaning. Although the search for meaning has
typically been characteri3e0 as a response to upsetting e5ents ;e.g.,
,hompson @ Janigian, !$""<, it appears to ha5e consi0erable
5ariability in the present samples 7hen assesse0 as a global con#
struct. *n a00ition, 5ery little support 7as foun0 for the 7i0esprea0
assumption that the search for meaning manifests only 7hen oneJs
life feels meaninglessA instea0, it 7as sho7n to be 0istinct an0
in0epen0ent from the presence of meaning in life. 2ran9l ;!$65<
an0 -a00i ;!$%0< may be correct, ho7e5er, 7hen they suggest
that frustration of the innate search for meaning in life may be
0istressing, as 0emonstrate0 by small to me0ium correlations be#
t7een scores on the 1earch subscale an0 negati5e affect, 0epres#
sion, an0 neuroticism.
,he ability of the -./ to measure search an0 presence in0e#
pen0ently allo7s for greater theoretical an0 empirical fle=ibility. *t
is no7 possible to i0entify those 7ho feel great meaningfulness yet
still see9 to further their un0erstan0ing of lifeJs meaning an0
compare them 7ith those 7ho feel their life is meaningful an0 are
not engage0 in any further search for meaning. 2or instance,
(ietrich Honhoeffer, -alcolm T, or -ahatma Ean0hi may all
e=emplify li5es in 7hich great purpose an0 meaning 0i0 not
foreclose the acti5e an0 open pursuit for greater un0erstan0ing of
their meaning an0 purpose in the 7orl0. :o7e5er, Cuestions may
remain about the true in0epen0ence of the t7o constructs. Pre5i#
ously 7e 0iscusse0 three possible e=planations+ that people might
see9 to a00 to their current sources of meaning, that they might
7ant a 0eeper un0erstan0ing of that 7hich alrea0y ma9es their
li5es feel meaningful, an0 that they might see9 ne7 sources of
meaning as e=isting ones fluctuate in significance.
)ther e=amples e=ist in psychology 7herein the search for an0 the
attainment of a construct are in0epen0ent. Among these are theories
of i0entity formation. *n his influential articulation of i0entity forma#
tion, -arcia ;!$66< use0 concepts of e=ploration an0 commitment
;a0apte0 from Fri9son, !$6"< as the a=es of a t7o#0imensional space
that 0escribe the stages of i0entity 0e5elopment. *n this mo0el, in0i#
5i0uals procee0 from i0entity 0iffusion, in 7hich they ha5e neither
e=plore0 nor committe0 to an i0entity, through i0entity foreclosure, in
7hich they commit to an i0entity 7ithout e=ploring internally conso#
nant alternati5es, an0 i0entity moratorium, in 7hich they are e=plor#
ing possible i0entities 7ithout committing to any. 2inally, in0i5i0uals
commit to some i0entity 0iscerne0 through e=ploration, a stage calle0
i0entity achie5ement. -o0els that pre0icate the necessity of an e=#
ploratory or searching stage ha5e also been use0 in racial ;e.g.,
1,FEF?, 2?AO*F?, )*1:*, A( 8A.F?
2ischer, ,o9ar, @ 1erna, !$$"<, ethnic ;e.g., 1e5ig, :ighlen, @
A0ams, 2000<, an0 se=ual ;e.g., .e5ine, !$$%< i0entity research. )ne
might argue that the 0e5elopment of meaning in life runs parallel to
the 0e5elopment of i0entity an0 that some people may be at a stage of
meaning 0iffusion ;lo7 presence, lo7 search<, meaning foreclosure
;high presence, lo7 search<, meaning moratorium ;lo7 presence, high
search<, or meaning achie5ement ;high presence, high search<. ,o be
consistent 7ith the i0entity formation literature, in the case of mean#
ing achie5ement, the implication is that people ha5e searche0 in the
past, although they may or may not still be searching for meaning.
1tage theories are 5ulnerable to criticisms, ho7e5er, among
7hich are the assumptions that people procee0 through the stages
in a specific or0er an0 that they cannot simultaneously be in more
than one stage. Fri9son use0 the term epigenesis to e=press
i0ea that successful resolution of later i0entity stages reCuires
ree=periencing earlier stages, an0 that people also anticipate up#
coming stages an0 tensions ;Fri9son, Fri9son, @ 8i5nic9, !$"6<.
Fri9son also note0 that e5en those 7ho successfully resol5e0
earlier stage crises may fin0 that 7hat 7or9e0 at that time is
ina0eCuate for their present challenges. Vocational 0e5elopment
theories also incorporate the i0ea of recycling through stages
0uring transitions or in response to crisis ;e.g., 1uper, !$$0<. Dith
this in min0, one coul0 theori3e that those high in search for
meaning are in a transitory state, 7ith some e=periencing a mo5e
from one satisfying lifestyle to another ;high presence, high
search<, such as the anticipate0 birth of a chil0 7ithin a re7ar0ing
romantic relationship. )thers may be face0 7ith an e=istential
crisis ;lo7 presence, high search<, such as trying to reco5er from
the 0eath of a lo5e0 one. *n fact, recent coping research has
re5eale0 that the search for meaning in a traumatic e5ent is
relati5ely in0epen0ent from 7hether one has foun0 meaning in that
e5ent ;(a5is, Dortman, .ehman, @ 1il5er, 2000<. Among those
7ho struggle0 to un0erstan0 7hy they e=perience0 trauma, arri5#
ing at a reason 0i0 not cause them to stop searching for meaning.
,his latter fin0ing suggests that there may be in0i5i0ual 0ifferences
in the propensity to search for meaning in e5ents. ,he 0ata presente0
here are not able to a00ress 7hether the statistical in0epen0ence
bet7een presence an0 search is 0ue to stable in0i5i0ual 0ifferences or
0e5elopmental features. *n either case, the interaction bet7een the t7o
constructs may ha5e significant implications for 7ell#being. 2or in#
stance, in 0ata reporte0 else7here, a significant interaction bet7een
search an0 presence 7as foun0 such that the presence of meaning in
life 7as more important to life satisfaction for those searching for
meaning, in both self#>u0gments an0 >u0gments of others ;1teger @
)ishi, 200B<. ,his gi5es some in0ication of the benefits of being able
to assess both constructs.
%!plications for Counseling
Accurate measurement is essential to psychological research.
KPurifie0L measures of the presence of an0 search for meaning in
life shoul0 benefit theory 0e5elopment in one of counselingJs
tra0itional foci, positi5e human functioning ;.ent, 200B<. *n a00i#
tion, the -./ scales coul0 be use0 to gather information at inta9e
an0 assess successful therapy outcomes ;cf. Eelso @ Doo0house,
2003<. 2or e=ample, a significant portion of clients present 7ith a
0esire for personal gro7th. ,he -./ 1earch subscale can effec#
ti5ely gauge the e=tent to 7hich clients see9 greater purpose an0
meaning as part of this gro7th process. ,he ma>ority of self#
initiate0 counseling focuses on clientsJ efforts to reco5er their
7ell#being or heal from a5ersi5e e5ents or e=periences ;.ent,
200B<. ,he -./ Presence subscale pro5i0es an a00itional brief
measure of psychological health, gi5en both the pattern of in5erse
relations 7ith common forms of psychological 0istress reporte0 in
the present stu0ies ;i.e., 0epression, an=iety< an0 the fin0ing that a
0eeper appreciation of life ;increase0 sense of lifeJs meaning< is
one of the most commonly reporte0 positi5e outcomes of coping
7ith a05ersity ;,e0eschi, Par9, @ Calhoun, !$$"<. ,he -./
Presence subscale coul0 also be use0 to assess the effecti5eness of
inter5entions 0esigne0 to increase 7ell#being. Ei5en recent efforts
by counseling psychologists to raise the profile of 7ell#being
;.ent, 200BA ?obbins @ 8lie7er, 2000A Dalsh, 2003<, as 7ell as
the formation of a Kpositi5e psychologyL section 7ithin the 1oci#
ety for Counseling Psychology ;(i5ision !% of American Psycho#
logical Association<, the -./ may be of timely assistance in
helping for7ar0 these research an0 applie0 agen0as.
/i!itations and $uture Directions
,he 0e5elopment an0 5ali0ation of the -./ 0o not ans7er all
Cuestions about the nature of meaning in life as a construct. De
ha5e pro5i0e0 a sub>ecti5e measure that lea5es open the Cuestion of
7hat participants are consi0ering 7hen >u0ging 7hether their li5es
are meaningful. 2uture research, using the -./ as an in0e= of
meaning in life, shoul0 en0ea5or to i0entify the necessary
constituents an0 precursors to 0e5eloping meaning in life, an0 the
boun0s of its content space.
.imitations of the present stu0ies also inclu0e the use of pri#
marily con5enience samples of -i07estern un0ergra0uate psy#
chology stu0ents, 7ith the e=ception of the informant group from
1tu0y 3. 1tu0ents may not be representati5e of all in0i5i0uals.
-eaning in life might play a larger role among ol0er populations
than among younger populations ;see Dong, !$$"<. Clar9 an0
Datson ;!$$5< stresse0 the importance of e=amining the factor
structure of psychological assessment scales in heterogeneous
samples. 1uch 0ata 7oul0 be beneficial to establish norms as 7ell.
(ata collection is currently un0er7ay to a00ress these concerns.
2uture research shoul0 also en0ea5or to access more 0i5erse
samples, because there has been 5ery little cross#cultural 7or9 in
this area. 1ome information is a5ailable regar0ing meaning in life
7ithin specific cultures ;e.g., :ong 8ongA see 1he9, !$$%<, but
there has been no systematic in5estigation of intra# an0 intercul#
tural 0ifferences an0 similarities in meaning in life. F=ploration of
the sources of meaning for in0i5i0uals in 0ifferent cultures 7oul0
be especially fruitful ;see Har#,ur, 1a5aya, @ Prager, 200!, for a
comparison of *sraeli Arabs an0 Je7s on this topic<.
*n a00ition, 7ith the e=ception of 1tu0y 3, only self#report
metho0s 7ere use0 in the present stu0ies. ,o our 9no7le0ge,
metho0ologies in the stu0y of meaning in life ha5e been limite0 to
self#report, informant report ;here<, inter5ie7er reports ;P*. an0
.?*<, criterion groups ;P*. an0 .?*<, an0 analysis of 7riting
samples ;e.g., Fbersole @ (eVogler#Fbersole, !$"B<. A00itional
metho0s, such as e=perience sampling, e=perimental manipulation,
beha5ioral obser5ation, an0 long inter5al longitu0inal stu0ies,
coul0 greatly inform our un0erstan0ing of this construct.
2inally, little is 9no7n about ho7 >u0gments of meaning in life
are forme0. (o they rely on stable personality characteristics,
en5ironmental or sociocultural conte=ts, moo0, recent life e5ents,
A11F11*E -FA*E * .*2F
or goal progress, to name a fe7 potential can0i0atesM ,he im#
pro5e0 measure of meaning in life presente0 in this article shoul0
enable progress in these une=plore0 areas. ,he ability to measure
meaning in life, 7ithout confoun0ing 7ith other constructs, using
an instrument 7ith goo0 psychometric properties allo7s a more
nuance0 an0 accurate analysis of me0iators, mo0erators, an0 cor#
relates of meaning in life. ,hus, 7e belie5e that the -./ can
contribute to the a05ance of 7ell#being research, an important
aspect of counseling psychology.
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,he -eaning in .ife /uestionnaire
M/0 Please ta9e a moment to thin9 about 7hat ma9es your life feel important to you. Please respon0 to the follo7ing
statements as truthfully an0 accurately as you can, an0 also please remember that these are 5ery sub>ecti5e Cuestions an0 that
there are no right or 7rong ans7ers. Please ans7er accor0ing to the scale belo7+
Absolutely -ostly 1ome7hat CanJt 1ay 1ome7hat -ostly Absolutely
4ntrue 4ntrue 4ntrue ,rue or 2alse ,rue ,rue ,rue
! 2 3 B 5 6 %
!. * un0erstan0 my lifeJs meaning.
2. * am loo9ing for something that ma9es my life feel meaningful.
3. * am al7ays loo9ing to fin0 my lifeJs purpose.
B. -y life has a clear sense of purpose.
5. * ha5e a goo0 sense of 7hat ma9es my life meaningful.
6. * ha5e 0isco5ere0 a satisfying life purpose.
%. * am al7ays searching for something that ma9es my life feel significant.
". * am see9ing a purpose or mission for my life.
$. -y life has no clear purpose.
!0. * am searching for meaning in my life.
-./ synta= to create Presence an0 1earch subscales+
Presence !,B,5,6, @ $#re5erse#co0e0
1earch 2,3,%,", @ !0
,he copyright for this Cuestionnaire is o7ne0 by the 4ni5ersity of -innesota. ,his Cuestionnaire is inten0e0 for free use in
research an0 clinical applications. Please contact -ichael 2. 1teger prior to any such noncommercial use. ,his
Cuestionnaire may not be use0 for commercial purposes.
?ecei5e0 (ecember 23, 200B
?e5ision recei5e0 -arch 2$, 2005
Accepte0 -arch 30, 2005