Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-nr4z6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-23T12:10:29.025Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Individual meaning in life assessed with the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation: toward a circumplex meaning model

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2015

Martin Fegg*
Affiliation:
Department of Palliative Medicine, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Dorothea Kudla
Affiliation:
Department of Palliative Medicine, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Monika Brandstätter
Affiliation:
Department of Palliative Medicine, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Veronika Deffner
Affiliation:
Statistical Consulting Unit, Department of Statistics, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Helmut Küchenhoff
Affiliation:
Statistical Consulting Unit, Department of Statistics, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
*
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Martin Fegg, Marchioninistr. 15, 81377 Munich, Germany, Phone +49-89-24216130, Fax +49-89-24216135, E-mail: martin@fegg.de. Website: www.meaninginlife.info.

Abstract

Objective:

The experience of “meaning in life” (MiL) is a major aspect of life satisfaction and psychological well-being. To assess this highly individual construct, idiographic measures with open-response formats have been developed. However, it can be challenging to categorize these individual experiences for interindividual comparisons. Our study aimed to derive MiL categories from individual listings and develop an integrative MiL model.

Method:

University students were asked to rate 58 MiL providing aspects recently found in a nationwide study using the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (SMiLE), an MiL instrument allowing for open responses. Pearson's correlations and factor analyses were used to test the unidimensionality of subsequently derived higher-order MiL categories. Multidimensional scaling, cluster analysis, and factor analysis were performed to further analyze a latent MiL structure.

Results:

A total of 340 students participated in the study. Some 11 unidimensional categories consisting of 34 meaning-providing aspects were summarized into a circumplex model with four MiL domains: leisure/health, work/finances, culture/spirituality, and relationships (family, partnership, social relations).

Significance of results:

This model seems to incorporate a major portion of individual respondent-generated MiL listings. It may be useful for future idiographic MiL studies to help organize individual experiences of MiL and allow for higher-level interindividual comparisons. Further studies including different samples are necessary to confirm this model or derive other MiL domains, for example, in palliative care patients or patients who are confronted with a loss of meaning.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

REFERENCES

Brandstätter, M., Baumann, U., Borasio, G.D., et al. (2012). Systematic review of meaning in life assessment instruments. Psycho-Oncology, 21(10), 10341052.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Brandstätter, M., Kögler, M., Baumann, U., et al. (2014). Experience of meaning in life in bereaved informal caregivers of palliative care patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 22(5), 13911399.Google Scholar
Breitbart, W., Rosenfeld, B., Gibson, C., et al. (2010). Meaning-centered group psychotherapy for patients with advanced cancer: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Psycho-Oncology, 19(1), 2128.Google Scholar
Burbank, P.M. (1992). An exploratory study: Assessing the meaning in life among older adult clients. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 18(9), 1928.Google Scholar
Chochinov, H.M., Hack, T., Hassard, T., et al. (2005). Dignity therapy: A novel psychotherapeutic intervention for patients near the end of life. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 23(24), 55205525.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Debats, D. (1999). Sources of meaning: An investigation of significant commitments in life. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 39(4), 3057.Google Scholar
DeVogler, K. & Ebersole, P. (1980). Categorization of college students' meaning of life. Psychological Reports, 46, 387390.Google Scholar
DeVogler, K. & Ebersole, P. (1983). Young adolescents' meaning in life. Psychological Reports, 52, 427431.Google Scholar
Dittmann-Kohli, F. & Westerhof, G.J. (1997). The SELE–Sentence Completion Questionnaire: A new instrument for the assessment of personal meanings in aging research. Anuario de Psicologia, 73(2), 718.Google Scholar
Ebersole, P. & DePaola, S. (1987). Meaning in life categories of later life couples. The Journal of Psychology, 121(2), 185191.Google Scholar
Fegg, M., Kögler, M., Abright, C., et al. (2013). Meaning in life in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy. The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care, 31(5), 543547.Google Scholar
Fegg, M., Kögler, M., Brandstätter, M., et al. (2010). Meaning in life in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, 11(5), 469474.Google Scholar
Fegg, M., Kramer, M., Bausewein, C., et al. (2007). Meaning in life in the Federal Republic of Germany: Results of a representative survey with the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (SMiLE). Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 5, 59.Google Scholar
Fegg, M., Kramer, M., l'Hoste, S., et al. (2008). The Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (SMiLE): Validation of a new instrument for meaning-in-life research. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 4, 356363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Frankl, V. (1958). The will to meaning. Journal of Pastoral Care, 12, 8288.Google Scholar
Kernes, J.L. & Kinnier, R.T. (2008). Meaning in psychologists' personal and professional lives. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 48(2), 196220.Google Scholar
Kissane, D., Clarke, D. & Street, A. (2001). Demoralization syndrome: A relevant psychiatric diagnosis for palliative care. Journal of Palliative Care, 17(1), 1221.Google Scholar
Kudla, D., Kujur, J., Tigga, S., et al. (2014). Meaning in life experience at the end of life: Validation of the Hindi version of the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation and a crosscultural comparison between Indian and German palliative care patients. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 49(1), 7988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lethborg, C., Aranda, S., Cox, S., et al. (2007). To what extent does meaning mediate adaptation to cancer? The relationship between physical suffering, meaning in life, and connection to others in adjustment to cancer. Palliative & Supportive Care, 5(4), 377388.Google Scholar
McKnight, P.E. & Kashdan, T.B. (2009). Purpose in life as a system that creates and sustains health and well-being: An integrative, testable theory. Review of General Psychology, 13(3), 242251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meier, D., Emmons, C., Wallenstein, S., et al. (1998). A national survey of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States. The New England Journal of Medicine, 338(17), 11931201.Google Scholar
Moadel, A., Morgan, C., Fatone, A., et al. (1999). Seeking meaning and hope: Self-reported spiritual and existential needs among an ethnically diverse cancer patient population. Psycho-Oncology, 8, 378385.3.0.CO;2-A>CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Monforte-Royo, C., Tomás-Sábado, J., Villavicencio-Chávez, C., et al. (2011). Psychometric properties of the Spanish form of the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (SMiLE). Quality of Life Research, 20(5), 759762.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pohlmann, K., Gruss, B. & Joraschky, P. (2006). Structural properties of personal meaning systems: A new approach to measuring meaning of life. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(3), 109117.Google Scholar
Prager, E. (1996). Exploring personal meaning in an age-differentiated Australian sample: Another look at the Sources of Meaning Profile (SOMP). Journal of Aging Studies, 10(2), 117136.Google Scholar
Reker, G. & Wong, P. (1988). Aging as an individual process: Towards a theory of personal meaning. In Emergent theories of aging. Birren, J. & Bengston, V. (eds.), pp. 220226. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
Rodriguez-Pereyra, G. (2008). Nominalism in metaphysics. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Zalta, E.E. (ed.). Available from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2008/entries/nominalism-metaphysics/.Google Scholar
Schnell, T. (2009). The Sources of Meaning and Meaning in Life Questionnaire (SoMe): Relations to demographics and well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(6), 483499.Google Scholar
Schwartz, S.H., Verkasalo, M., Antonovsky, A., et al. (1997). Value priorities and social desirability: Much substance, some style. British Journal of Social Psychology, 36(1), 318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sprangers, M. & Schwartz, C. (1999). Integrating response shift into health-related quality of life research: A theoretical model. Social Science & Medicine, 48(11), 15071515.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Stiefel, F., Krenz, S., Zdrojewski, C., et al. (2008). Meaning in life assessed with the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (SMiLE): A comparison between a cancer patient and student sample. Supportive Care in Cancer, 16(10), 11511155.Google Scholar
Takkinen, S. & Ruoppila, I. (2001). Meaning in life in three samples of elderly persons with high cognitive functioning. International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 53(1), 5173.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wong, P. (1998). Implicit theories of meaningful life and the development of the personal meaning profile. In The human quest for meaning: A handbook of psychological research and clinical applications. Wong, P. & Fry, P. (eds.), pp. 111140. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Wong, P. & Fry, P. (eds.) (1998). The human quest for meaning: A handbook of psychological research and clinical applications. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Yalom, I. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar