Thinking about a new decade in life increases personal self-reflection: A replication and reinterpretation of Alter and Hershfield's (2014) findings. Academic Article uri icon


  • Alter and Hershfield (2014) recently published a set of studies suggesting that people often search for existential meaning as they approach a new decade in chronological age. The purpose of the current research was to replicate their experimental study (Study 2 in their article) and extend their findings using additional operational measures of search for meaning. Study 1 was a replication comparing the two conditions used in the original study (i.e., experimental and baseline control), whereas Studies 2 and 3 were direct replications of the original methods using all three conditions (i.e., experimental, baseline control, and birthday control). All replications found general support for the original claims with important caveats. Specifically, whereas Studies 1 and 3 replicated their main findings, Study 2 did not. Importantly, however, a factor analysis of Alter and Hershfield's meaning-seeking measure revealed two factors underlying a search for meaning: life-reflection and perceived value of meaning. Across all studies, findings suggest that people are significantly more likely to engage in a life review as they begin a new epoch in their lives while there were no differences in their perceived value of meaning. A reinterpretation of Alter and Hershfield's findings is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

published proceedings

  • J Pers Soc Psychol

altmetric score

  • 2.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, J., Schlegel, R. J., Seto, E., & Hicks, J. A.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Jinhyung||Schlegel, Rebecca J||Seto, Elizabeth||Hicks, Joshua A

publication date

  • August 2019