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Flashcards in L8 The Science of Meaning in Life Deck (17):

Meaning IN Life

Difference between "of" and "in"


Types of well-being

1. Eudemonic
2. Hedonic



Pursuing pleasure
Positive affect, life satisfaction



Taking part in activities that allow for the actualization of one's skills, talents, and potential
Meaning and purpose in life
Philosophical distinction- Aristotle


Consequences for how we think about each type of well-being

- selfish/worthless to society
- quick and easy, but temporary
- associated with negative outcomes

- societally valuable
- difficult to attain, requires effort/personal suffering
- rare

* yet, psychological research suggests a great deal of overlap, happiness and meaning in life are related


Different implications for Hedonia vs. Eudaimonia

Positive affect/life satisfaction
- stems from and leads to positive outcomes
- has societal value

Meaning in life
- doesn't require effortful pursuit
- doesn't involve suffering
- is common


Defining meaning in life

Lives may be experiences as meaningful when they are felt to have significance beyond the trivial or momentary, to have purpose, or to have a coherence that transcends chaos

Key words: significance, purpose, coherence

A subjective experience, measured thru self-report


3 common themes

1. Purpose
- engagement in goal-directed pursuits
2. Significance
- mattering to others
- leaving a lasting legacy
3. Coherence
- the degree to which things make sense


Correlates of meaning in life measures

- decreased mortality, decreased risk of heart disease, reduced rate of age-related cognitive decline/Alzheimer's, decreased suicidal ideation, lower incidence of psychological disorders
- increased preventative health behaviors and health outcomes, greater use of adaptive coping strategies, improved occupational adjustment, increased social appeal


Sources of meaning

- purpose, value, self-efficacy, self-worth
Identities, religious faith, cultural worldviews


Contribution to meaning

- family, happiness, friends
- self-acceptance, personal goals, self-worth, personal growth, helping others, intimacy & achievements, religious faith, justice/fairness



Social relationships as foundational source of meaning in life
- lab exp., cyberball example, "the KKK won't let me play"
- ostracism is still prevalent even if rejection comes from an out-group


Positive affect

Mood inductions
- negative, neutral, positive
Being in a good mood/ high positive affect is related to higher meaning in life ratings

But meaning in life does Not equal happiness
- the 7 pattern indicates some who are unhappy still claim a high level of meaning


The function of meaning in life

Meaning as information approach
- the feeling of meaning provides unique information about the presence of reliable patterns and coherence in the environment
- information = function in the environment in an adaptive way


Vividness ratings on pictures experiment

2 orders presented- one of which was seasonal
Prediction- if the adaptive info provided by feeling of meaning pertains to reliable connections, life will be rated as more meaningful after encounters with objectively coherent stimuli



Coherence is everywhere
Other sources of meaning in life are common too
Relationships and social inclusion
- inclusion is the norm, exclusion is the exception
Positive mood
- the default state
- most people are happy


Is life brimming with meaning?

Meaning in life is common for most people in most circumstances
- older adults and adults with mental illnesses still find life meaningful
Meaning in life is a commonplace experience
- sometimes as simple as being in a good mood, living in a lawful physical world
Meaning can be detected and need not be constructed at all times- the world we live in is full of meaning waiting to be noticed