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Sense of meaning in context: A study of meaning for past events in relation to future goals, and in relation to intrusions and personality over time.

Title:

Sense of meaning in context: A study of meaning for past events in relation to future goals, and in relation to intrusions and personality over time.

Lowinger, Roxana, Rachel (2011) Sense of meaning in context: A study of meaning for past events in relation to future goals, and in relation to intrusions and personality over time. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Meaning making is a common response to many types of important life events, which individuals use to try to make sense of and gain benefits from difficult experiences. It has been traditionally associated with positive psychological and physiological outcomes (Affleck & Tennen, 1996). Nevertheless, the circumstances and mechanisms by which it becomes beneficial are less well understood. This thesis consists of three studies. The goal of Study 1 was to establish whether meaning and affect for a specific event reflect unique constructs and are independent of more global individual characteristics such as purpose and meaning in life. Study 2 then sought to identify the possible mechanisms by which sense of meaning for self-defining memories is associated with positive outcomes. This was accomplished by specifically focusing on the mediating effect of positive affect on self-efficacy and importance of goals. Lastly, to expand on the current understanding of the role of meaning making, Study 3 examined how sense of meaning changes over time, its relation to intrusions and avoidance, and its relation to personality factors.
Individuals reported a self-defining event, the affect and sense of meaning associated with that event, as well as general indices of purpose and affectivity (Study 1). In addition, individuals rated a number of current goals and their sense of self-efficacy and importance for those goals (Study 2). Finally, individuals reported a traumatic event, their sense of meaning for that event as well as their affect, and their experience of intrusions and avoidance at three different points in time (Study 3). Individuals also completed a personality questionnaire.
Positive affect and meaning for self-defining events were correlated with one another, but not with more general indices of affectivity and purposefulness. Sense of meaning for memories was associated with more positive affect, which, in turn, was associated with more self-efficacy and importance of current life goals. Finally, sense of meaning tended to be stable over time and was associated both with more intrusions, and extraversion and conscientiousness. Intrusions and avoidance tended to decrease over time and were associated with neuroticism. This thesis clarifies some of the functions of having a sense of meaning with regard to self-defining or negative life events, in a broader context than previously considered.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Lowinger, Roxana, Rachel
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Psychology
Date:08 September 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Conway, Michael
Keywords:self-defining memories, autobiographical memory, affect, meaning-making, trauma, intrusions and avoidance
ID Code:35975
Deposited By:ROXANA BUCHSBAUM
Deposited On:22 Nov 2011 09:08
Last Modified:22 Nov 2011 09:08
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