Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Social-Personality: Dr. Laura King, "Unexpected Meaning (in Life)"

Wed, December 4, 2019 | SEA 4.244 (Library)

1:00 PM

 Social & Personality Area Meeting (SPAM)


Laura King, Ph.D
Curator's Distinguished Professor
Department of Psychology
University of Missouri


"Unexpected Meaning (in Life)"


Wed, Dec 4 • 1:00 PM
SEA 4.244 (Library)


The experience of meaning in life is widely considered a cornerstone of The Good Life and an emblematic feature of eudaimonic well-being. Meaning in life predicts varied positive life outcomes—ranging from health and longevity to lifetime earnings and social appeal. However, the science of meaning in life has been hampered by the placement of the experience of meaning on a pedestal of positive human functioning—as a grand achievement of the rare few who live virtuous, truly meaningful lives.

Correlational and experimental evidence shows that meaning in life springs from unexpectedly mundane experiences, such as being in a pretty good mood or engaging in one’s daily routine. Moreover, the experience of meaning is associated with and enhanced by variables that occupy a far less rarefied air—including financial resources, physical appearance, childhood trauma, narcissism, authoritarian values, and having one right answer to life’s complex questions. Recognizing the varied contexts that promote a sense of meaning in life (and its constituent facets of purpose, coherence, and significance) does not damage this vaunted experience. Rather, it allows us to understand its potential role in human adaptation. 

Sponsored by: Department of Psychology Social and Personality Area

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