International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Family and Meaning: Examining the Four Needs for Meaning as Mediators

Nathaniel M. Lambert, Ph.D

School of Family Life, Brigham Young University

Roy F. Baumeister, Ph.D

Social Psychology Area Director and Francis Eppes Eminent Scholar, Florida State University

Tyler F. Stillman, Ph.D

Business School and Department of Psychology, Southern Utah University

Frank D. Finchman, Ph.D

Eminent Scholar and Director of the FSU Family Institute, Florida State University


In a series of three studies we investigated the relationship between family and meaning and tested whether Baumeister’s (1991) four needs for meaning (purpose, values, efficacy, and self-worth) mediated this relationship. Study 1 (n=228) showed that participants assigned to think about their family reported more meaning in their lives than those assigned to think about a control topic. Using correlational data, Study 2 (n=220) found that the four needs for meaning, self-worth, values, efficacy, and purpose, mediated this relationship. Study 3 (n=128) provided experimental data to demonstrate that thinking about family results in higher meaning, efficacy, and purpose. Purpose mediated the relationship between family and meaning. Several avenues for future research are outlined.

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