Life is pretty meaningful

  • Heintzelman S
  • King L
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Abstract

The human experience of meaning in life is widely viewed as a cornerstone of well-being and a central human motivation. Self-reports of meaning in life relate to a host of important functional outcomes. Psychologists have portrayed meaning in life as simultaneously chronically lacking in human life as well as playing an important role in survival. Examining the growing literature on meaning in life, we address the question "How meaningful is life, in general?" We review possible answers from various psychological sources, some of which anticipate that meaning in life should be low and others that it should be high. Summaries of epidemiological data and research using two self-report measures of meaning in life suggest that life is pretty meaningful. Diverse samples rate themselves significantly above the midpoint on self-reports of meaning in life. We suggest that if meaning in life plays a role in adaptation, it must be commonplace, as our analysis suggests. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Author-supplied keywords

  • Meaning in life
  • Positive psychology
  • Well-being

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Authors

  • Samantha J. Heintzelman

  • Laura A. King

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