Individual Perceptions of Meaning in Life and Meaninglessness
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Much research has been conducted to define meaning in life and identify its correlates, but the construct of meaninglessness is not as well understood. Are meaning and meaninglessness perceived as part of the same spectrum? How exactly do individuals define these terms? Thus, the primary purpose of this study is to compare and contrast what people think of and associate with meaning and meaninglessness. Furthermore, we explore the possibility that individuals with similar beliefs and ideas may also perceive meaning in life in a similar way. For this study, participants (n = 209) were administered an online questionnaire composed of items assessing meaning in life, values, religiousness, risk for depression, political ideation, and socioeconomic status. Additionally, participants were given an open-ended prompt to discuss their interpretation of either meaning or meaninglessness. These responses were then coded to find common themes in individual perceptions of meaning and meaninglessness, and these themes were analyzed to find possible correlations with participants' responses on the questionnaire. With these findings, we can better understand the phenomenon of meaninglessness.
Gaitonde, Shivani (2015). Individual Perceptions of Meaning in Life and Meaninglessness. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from