International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

College Students’ Perceptions of Meaning in Life as a Mediator of Optimal Mental Health

Shannon Hodges, Ph.D., LMHC

Niagara University

Kristine Augustyniak, Ph.D., LP

Niagara University

Vincent J. Rinaldo, Ph.D.

Niagara University


This study focused on two dimensions of meaning in life, presence and searching, and their effects on psychological well-being in the domains of depression, anxiety,
and overall happiness among a college population. Because surveys on college and
university life have consistently illustrated students struggle with depression and
anxiety, this study targeted meaning in life as a potential protective factor.
Instruments utilized were the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ), Subjective
Happiness Scale (SHS), the Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II),
and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Results suggest that Meaning in Life (MIL)
is important for life satisfaction and as a buffer against depression. A moderate
negative relationship between depression and MIL (Presence) and depression and
happiness were also evident. Finally, results suggest a weak negative relationship
between anxiety and MIL (Search and Presence) and happiness.

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