Making sense: Meaning in life in a cognitive context

Sarah Ward, Laura King

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Meaning in life is an important contributor to psychological and physical health. In this chapter, we consider how this aspect of well-being relates to constructs within social psychology and social cognition that describe people's attempts to make sense of their existence and social environment. We first review the relationship between the experience of meaning in life and information processing styles. Next, we distinguish between proximal and more distal variables that influence the experience of meaning. Proximal social cognitive variables include positive affect and the detection of environmental regularities. We then describe more distal sources of meaning, such as religious and secular worldviews, and consider additional potential distal sources that have not yet been examined. We close by considering intriguing research directions for the role of cognition in the experience of meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Happy Mind
Subtitle of host publicationCognitive Contributions to Well-Being
EditorsMichael D Robinson, Michael Eid
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319587639
ISBN (Print)9783319587615
StatePublished - Jun 28 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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