The unbearable lightness of meaning: well-being and unstable meaning in life
Kashdan, Todd B.
Steger, Michael F.
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Psychological theories prioritize developing enduring sources of meaning in life. As such, unstable meaning should be detrimental to well-being. Two daily experience sampling studies were conducted to test this hypothesis. Across the studies, people with greater instability of daily meaning reported lower daily levels of meaning in life, and lower global levels of life satisfaction, positive affect, social connectedness and relationship satisfaction, along with higher global levels of negative affect and depression. In addition, instability of meaning interacted with average daily levels of meaning to account for significant variance in meaning in life scores. Relative to people with more stable meaning, people with unstable meaning tended to score near the middle of the distribution of well-being, whether they reported high or low levels of daily meaning. Results are discussed with an eye toward a better understanding of meaning in life and developing interventions to stabilize and maximize well-being.
- Faculty of Humanities