Symposium 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Examining Meaning Meaningfully Using Mixed Methods. (#351)

Dianne Vella-Brodrick 1
  1. Centre for Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

Ways in which individuals construe meaning in their life can be dependent on a combination of socio-cultural, religious and personal factors. Inquiring about personal meaning from a bottom-up, lived experience perspective can provide rich insights that are complementary to theoretical and empirical data.  A sample of 269 Australian adults responded to a series of open-ended questions and standardized scales assessing hedonic and eudaimonic well-being.  They were asked to list three things that were most meaningful in their lives and to indicate why they were meaningful. They were also invited to rate the level of meaning they ascribed to 10 life domains (e.g., family, work, health, community).  The qualitative data were then examined for common themes and with respect to personal, interpersonal, social and ecological systems.  The value of interpersonal relationships, especially with family, was evident in this Australian sample. However, deriving meaning from the broader community did not feature in participant responses.  These findings underscore the complexities of valuing and nurturing close relationships and more distal relationships which are associated with global good.  Is a more expanded, ecologically-minded perspective on meaning and well-being warranted, and can this be achieved by concurrently respecting socio-cultural factors and personal choice?