Judgments of Meaning in Life Following an Existential Crisis


In the first part of this chapter, we review research supporting the idea that the subjective experience of meaning in life is a judgment process influenced by many factors, including chronically activated sources of meaning, temporarily accessible information, and one’s current mood. Building upon this understanding of meaning in life as a judgment process, the second part of this chapter examines three potential resolutions to an existential crisis: affirming meaning through a leap of faith, carefully evaluating and reconstructing one’s system of meaning, and meaninglessness. We consider how the meaning in life judgment process might be influenced in each of these cases and examine other potential psychological consequences before calling on future research to explore these and other unexamined aspects of meaning in life.

The Experience of Meaning in Life: Classical Perspectives, Emerging Themes, and Controversies