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Title: What makes life feel meaningful?
Author: Costin, Vlad
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 4054
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2018
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Through a series of four papers using experimental and correlational methods, this thesis investigates precursors to judging life as meaningful. This thesis extends and tests tripartite models that define meaning in life (MIL) as comprised of the three dimensions of purpose, coherence and significance, while integrating claims derived from the Meaning Maintenance Model and previous research on sources of MIL (e.g., relationships, personal control). In Paper 1, we showed that different kinds of coherence threat (self-uncertainty and general uncertainty) were perceived differently, with self-uncertainty being overall most successful at influencing felt uncertainty; however, neither of the two manipulations influenced MIL judgements. In Paper 2, against our predictions, we did not find evidence that the effects of belongingness and personal control additively increase sense of MIL. In Paper 3, across three studies, we tested whether fulfilment of the three dimensions of MIL (coherence, purpose, significance) predicts MIL judgments contemporaneously and over time. In Study 1, we improved previous measures to create distinct scales of the key constructs. In Studies 2 and 3, we showed that sense of significance was the most consistent predictor of MIL judgments across time, with the effects of purpose and coherence being moderated by religious belief (Study 3). Finally, in Paper 4, we used a multilevel approach to show that different meaning frameworks (i.e., propositions that one holds about oneself and the world; e.g., identities, values) are seen as more meaningful, the more they provide a sense of purpose, significance and coherence. This, in turn, predicted the perceived importance of meaning frameworks. Finally, I discuss implications for the future of the construct of MIL in terms of definition, operationalisation, theoretical utility and future directions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF0778 Psychology of values, meaning