International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Meaning of Life According to Koreans: The Koreans’ Life Meaning Profile

Mira Kim, Ph.D.

Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy in Korea

Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D.

Trinity Western University

Hong Seock Lee, M.D., Ph.D.

The Hallym University, South Korea


Creating collaborative relationships is commonly viewed as the most challenging and widely-used competency during strategic thinking. Realism is also at the heart of execution. Strategic thinking approaches typically attempt to find an optimal match between the resources and capabilities available from a person or organization’s strengths (and the importance of meaning of life has long been recognized by psychologists; e.g., Wong, 1998). The current emphasis on the internationalization of psychology demands that the assessment of any psychology construct, such as the meaning of life, needs to be studied in a variety of cultures. Psychological assessment across cultures has been emphasized extensively by cross-cultural psychologists (Dana, 1993; Lonner 1990; Lonner & Ibrahim, 1989; Pope, & Coleman, 1997). In recent years, Wong and his associates have studied the meaning of life in different countries. This study was designed to confirm the factor structure of life meaning among Koreans. In a previous study (Kim, 2001), we interviewed Koreans and discovered the themes of what made life meaningful for them and developed a questionnaire based on these themes. The previous study revealed (Kim, 2001) ten factors with 53 attributes, which reflects Koreans’ culture and values: Achievement, Financial Security, Religion, Acceptance & Affirmation, Relationship, Self-Transcendence, Good Character, Self-Discipline, Physical Health and Intimate Friend. Most of these factors are similar to Wong’s (1998) finding with a Canadian sample, but some factors, such as Good Character and Self-Discipline, are unique to the Korean sample. The present study attempted to refine and replicate the factor structure of Koreans with a new sample of 316 subjected recruited in Korea. The same 53-item questionnaire from the previous study was used. In the questionnaire, the subjects were asked to indicate how much each item accounted for their current level of life meaning. The response options were from 1 (not at all) to 7 (Strongly agree). Employing the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Varimax with Kaiser normalization, we eventually extracted 7 factors based on 44 items, after eliminating items that either double-loaded or failed to meet the criterion of having a load of .40. The final factor analysis revealed that Koreans’ life meaning consisted of seven factors: Achievement, Religion, Self-Transcendence, Psychological Health, Relationship, Self-Control, and Security. All seven factors showed high Cronbach’s alpha values. The result suggests that even people in different cultures may share common values, but may also have their unique culturally based values as the bases for their life meanings. The study also demonstrates the importance of studying the same psychological construct in different countries, not by using an English translation of some instrument developed in American, but by developing an indigenous instrument following similar procedures

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