Meaning of Life Chapter uri icon


  • In this entry, we discuss the state of research in the psychological sciences on the experience of meaning in life. We first argue that the scientific study of meaning in life has progressed slower compared to similar constructs (e.g., life satisfaction) in part due to difficulties defining the construct. Despite this concern, we next describe recent research demonstrating that self-reports of meaning are linked to a host of important outcomes (e.g., depression, mortality rates) and are strongly associated with variables theorized to bear on meaning in life judgments (e.g., goal clarity). We then describe experimental studies illustrating how three of these latter variables—positive mood, social relationship functioning, and religious beliefs—are related to the subjective experience of meaning. Finally, we outline a number of future research topics for scholars interested in studying this important construct.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hicks, J. A., Seto, E., & Kim, J.

Book Title

  • The Encyclopedia of Adulthood and Aging

publication date

  • January 1, 2015 11:11 AM