Meaning in Life as Comprehension, Purpose, and Mattering: Toward Integration and New Research Questions

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To advance meaning in life (MIL) research, it is crucial to integrate it with the broader meaning literature, which includes important additional concepts (e.g., meaning frameworks) and principles (e.g., terror management). A tripartite view, which conceptualizes MIL as consisting of 3 subconstructs—comprehension, purpose, and mattering—may facilitate such integration. Here, we outline how a tripartite view may relate to key concepts from within MIL research (e.g., MIL judgments and feelings) and within the broader meaning research (e.g., meaning frameworks, meaning making). On the basis of this framework, we review the broader meaning literature to derive a theoretical context within which to understand and conduct further research on comprehension, purpose, and mattering. We highlight how future research may examine the interrelationships among the 3 MIL subconstructs, MIL judgments and feelings, and meaning frameworks.

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