Psychologies of meaning

Alexander Batthyany, Pninit Russo-Netzer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The psychological conceptualization of meaning has been addressed through different prisms and viewed as carrying multifaceted functions and manifestations, such as cognitive (for example, meaning-making, a sense of coherence); motivational (for example goals, purpose); types (micro or meaning in life versus macro or ultimate meaning-meaning of life); the search for, or presence of, meaning; as well as dimensions and sources of meaning. While positive psychology focuses on human strengths and positive emotions and tends to emphasize the “brighter” side of human functioning, existential psychology traditionally tends to address the “darker” or unsettling aspects of human existence, such as guilt, suffering, and mortality. Both traditions make ample reference to meaning, yet there seems to be a surprisingly small overlap between the empirical and theoretical work of both fields. Both traditions uncover important aspects of the still incomplete understanding of meaning itself and its role in human psychology. It is argued that a combination of both approaches may benefit each of them and embody a substantial step toward a deeper understanding of meaning and purpose.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMeaning in Positive and Existential Psychology
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781493903085
ISBN (Print)9781493903078
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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