Although research links the presence of meaning in life to greater psychological well-being, the relationship between the search for meaning and psychological well-being is less clear. Findings regarding the relationship between search for meaning and well-being have been mixed, with some studies showing negative relationships and some showing positive relationships. One reason for these mixed findings may be the multidimensional nature of well-being; that is, not all studies measure well-being in the same way. In addition, certain variables may moderate the relationship between search for meaning and well-being. Because searching for meaning can be conceptualized as a goal-pursuit process, goal-directed expectancy variables like hope and optimism may be candidate moderators. To clarify the relationships between the search for meaning and indicators of psychological well-being, we administered surveys to 246 university students, containing measures of hope, meaning, and a variety of positive and negative well-being constructs (e.g., positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, and depressive symptoms). Results indicate that, in general, greater search for meaning is related to worse psychological well-being. However, they also suggest that higher optimism and higher presence of meaning, but not hope, may provide a moderating (i.e., buffering) effect on some of these relationships.
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