Sources of meaning in life
DeVogler and Ebersole (1980) conceptualised meaning as having eight sources:
understanding (trying to gain more knowledge);
relationship (interpersonal orientation);
service (a helping, giving orientation);
belief (living according to one's beliefs);
expression (through art, athletics, music, writing) ;
obtaining (respect, possessions, responsibility) ;
growth (toward developing personal potentials, obtaining goals) ;
existential-hedonistic (the importance of the pleasures of daily life).
#DeVogler, K. L. and Ebersole, P. 1980. Categorization of college students' meaning of
life. Psychological Reports, 46, 387±390.
seven life goals that Fiske and Chiriboga (1991) delineate in their study of change and continuity
across the life span. The goals most frequently listed in studies that they reviewed were:
achievement and work (including economic rewards, success and social status) ;
good personal relations ;
philosophical and religious goals;
social service ;
freedom from hardship;
personal growth, including learning, knowing and mastering.
#Fiske, M. and Chiriboga, D. A. 1991. Change and Continuity in Adult Life. Jossey-Bass
Publishers, San Francisco.
Thurner (1975), Hedlund and Birren (1984),Klinger (1977) and others, there seems to be a consensus on a few majorsources of meaning, namely personal relationships, personal growth,success, altruism, hedonism, creativity, religion, and legacy.
Thurner, M. 1975. Continuities and discontinuities in value orientation. In Lowenthal,
M. F., Thurner, M., Chiriboga, D. and Associates (eds), Four Stages of Life : A Comparative Study of Women and Men Facing Transitions. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. Yalom, I. 1980. Existential Psychotherapy. Basic Books, New York.
Hedlund, B. and Birren, J. E. 1984. Distribution of types of meaning in life across women. Paper Presented at the Gerontological Society of America, San Antonio,Texas, November
Klinger, E. 1977. Meaning and Void. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Levels of meaning in life
sources of meaning may be categorised according to deductively determined commonality of meaning dimensions. This has produced some discussion as to levels of
Frankl's (1963) contention, that full meaning in life can be achieved only by transcending self-interest
Baumeister (1991) suggests that meaning starts with the specific andparticular, and gradually works up to the broad, all-encompassing, integrative abstract levels.
Baumeister, R. F. 1991. Meanings of Life. The Guilford Press, New York.
Bengston (1975), in his study of value transmission between the generations, identifies two meaning
continuae: materialism/humanism and individualism/collectivism.
Rokeach (1973) developed a hierarchical meaning system. It is upon this that the categorisation of the Sources of Meaning Profile (SOMP) instrument, used in this study, and presented in an earlier format
(Reker and Wong 1988) , is based. Four levels of meaning are proposed:
1.the lowest level, containing self-preoccupation with hedonistic pleasures and personal comforts;
2.second level, containing sources reflecting the realisation of personal potential ;
3.third level, containing sources which move beyond the realm of self interests into areas that involve service to others and dedication to larger, societal or political causes;
4.fourth level that incorporates values that transcends the self and others and encompass cosmic meaning and ultimate purpose.
@Prager, E. (1997a). Sources of Personal Meaning For Older and Younger Australian and Israeli Women: Profiles and Comparisons. Ageing and Society, 17(2), 167-189.