A Meaningful Synergy: The Integration of Character Strengths and the Three Types of Meaning in Life

Pninit Russo-Netzer*, Ricardo Tarrasch, Ryan M. Niemiec

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Two areas that have scientifically erupted in the last two decades are the sciences of meaning and of character strengths, yet the integration of these areas has been minimal. Some studies have drawn significant connections between character strengths and meaning in life; however, the samples have been limited, the measures have not measured or separated the types of meaning, and/or the studies have not gathered data from participants on the nuances of meaning. We conducted a large-scale, mixed methods study with 23,641 participants, spanning more than 100 countries. We measured the 24 character strengths using the VIA Inventory of Strengths and the three components of meaning—coherence/comprehension, significance/mattering, and purpose—using the Multidimensional Existential Meaning Scale. Participants shared their observations on how their chosen character strength was helpful for coherence, purpose, and significance. Meaning scales were significantly correlated with all character strengths. The strongest predictors of overall meaning were hope, spirituality, zest, curiosity, and gratitude. We found gender differences for character strengths and types of meaning, as well as age trends. Finally, we qualitatively analyzed the answers explaining the selections of character strengths, and assessed differences between gender and age. We discuss the findings within this intersection as well as ramifications for the scientific synergy of character strengths and meaning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number494
JournalSocial Sciences
Volume12
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Keywords

  • VIA Inventory
  • character strengths
  • coherence
  • meaning in life
  • purpose
  • significance

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