Measurement Invariance of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire Across 17 Countries

Lusilda Schutte, Ingrid Brdar, Marié P. Wissing, Marko Tončić, Ulisses Araujo, Erik Carlquist, Alejandro Castro Solano, Teresa Freire, María del Rocío Hernández-Pozo, Paul E. Jose, Tamás Martos, Jeanne Nakamura, Pamela Nuñez del Prado Chaves, Pninit Russo-Netzer, Kamlesh Singh, Alena Slezackova, Lawrence Soosai-Nathan, Wenceslao Unanue, Dianne A. Vella-Brodrick, Antonella Delle Fave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Meaning in Life Questionnaire assesses presence of and search for meaning in life. Although the questionnaire has shown promising psychometric properties in samples from different countries, the scale’s measurement invariance across a large number of nations has yet to be assessed. This study is aimed at addressing this gap, providing insight into how meaning in life is constructed and experienced across countries and into the extent to which cross-country comparisons can be made. A total of 3867 adult participants from 17 countries, aged 30–60, balanced by gender, and with at least secondary education, completed the questionnaire as part of the Eudaimonic and Hedonic Happiness Investigation. Single sample confirmatory factor analysis, multigroup confirmatory factor analysis, and alignment optimization were applied to investigate the scale’s performance across the samples. Good psychometric properties and high levels of approximate measurement invariance emerged for the Presence subscale after removal of item 9, the only reverse-phrased item. Performance of the Search subscale varied more across samples, suggesting caution in interpreting related results supporting approximate measurement invariance. The conceptualization of presence of meaning operationalized in the corresponding subscale (without item 9) appears consistent across countries, whereas search for meaning seems to be less universally homogenous and requires further exploration. Moreover, the Meaning in Life Questionnaire does not reflect the conceptual distinction between “purpose” and “meaning” currently acknowledged by researchers. This issue should be further explored in studies addressing the scale’s performance across cultures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Research in Quality of Life
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Open access funding provided by North-West University. In Croatia, this study was supported in part by the University of Rijeka under the project number uniri-drustv-18–27. In Norway, the University of Oslo financially supported this study. In Portugal, this study was conducted at the Psychology Research Centre (PSI/01662), School of Psychology, University of Minho, supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through the Portuguese State Budget (UIDB/PSI/01662/2020). In South Africa, the research was financially supported in part by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa (grant numbers: 91557, 106050, 121948), where the grantholders acknowledge that opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed are that of the authors, and that the South African NRF accepts no liability whatsoever in this regard.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Alignment optimization
  • Cross-cultural measurement invariance
  • Eudaimonic and Hedonic Happiness Investigation (EHHI)
  • Meaning in Life Questionnaire
  • Measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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