ULTIMATE, PROVISIONAL, AND PERSONAL MEANING OF LIFE: DIFFERENCES AND COMMON GROUND1

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Abstract

Building on Viktor Frankl's clinical approach of Logotherapy and the works of subsequent theoreticians, three types of meaning of life were theoretically derived and empirically investigated, Ultimate, Provisional, and Personal meaning. These types were characterized, first, by the amount of agreement of subjects, second, by sources of Life Meaning, which were assessed by content analyses, third, by correlations, and fourth by prediction with ratings of important life concepts from the domains of Well-being, Religiosity, and Prosocial Behavior. 192 German adults, 45 men and 147 women, whose M age was 31.6 yr. (SD = 11.9), participated. Analysis indicated different sources for the Ultimate meaning compared with the other meaning types, which seem to display more similarities with each other. Other important life concepts, such as Belief, Harmony, Happiness, and Human Goodness were related to the investigated types of meaning of life. Some implications for clinical applications, research perspectives, and Positive Psychology are discussed.

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