Meaning in Life: Is It a Protective Factor for Adolescents’ Psychological Health?
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
Searching for a coherent meaning in life has long been proposed to be a protective factor in adolescent development.
The present study aimed to examine meaning in life as a protective factor in a largely unstudied population: Romanian adolescents. Additionally, we sought to provide a novel, multidimensional assessment of several health-related variables (substance abuse, health risk behaviors, psychological health). Potential gender differences were explored regarding the role of life meaning in adolescent health.
Data were collected in 2006 from students enrolled in the secondary schools of the Middle Transylvanian Region, Romania (n = 1,977). Self-administered questionnaires were used as a method of data collection including items of life meaning and psychological health.
Meaning in life played a protective role with regard to health risk behaviors except smoking and binge drinking. Among males, meaning in life was found to be correlated only to illicit drug and sedative use, whereas among females, meaning in life was associated with binge drinking, unsafe sex, and lack of exercise and diet control. Psychological health was strongly related to meaning in life.
In Romanian adolescents, meaning in life is a protective factor against health risk behaviors and poor psychological health.
- Call, KT, Riedel, AA, Hein, K, McLoyd, V, Petersen, A, Kipke, M (2002) Adolescent health and well-being in the twenty-first century: a global perspective. J Res Adolesc 12: pp. 69-98 CrossRef
- Piko, B, Barabas, K, Boda, K (1997) Frequency of common psychosomatic symptoms and its influence on self-perceived health in a Hungarian student population. Eur J Publ Health 7: pp. 243-247 CrossRef
- Piko, B, Fitzpatrick, KM (2003) Depressive symptomatology among Hungarian youth: a risk and protective factors approach. Am J Orthopsychiat 73: pp. 44-54 CrossRef
- Piko, B (2007) Self-perceived health among adolescents: the role of gender and psychosocial factors. Eur J Pediatr 166: pp. 701-708 CrossRef
- Neumark-Sztainer, D, Story, M, Toporoff, E, Himes, JH, Resnick, MD, Blum, RWM (1997) Covariates of eating behaviors with other health-related behaviors among adolescents. J Adolesc Health 20: pp. 450-458 CrossRef
- Eaton DE, Kann L, Kinchen S, Ross J, Hawkins J, Harris WA, Lowry R, McManus T, Chyen D, Shanklin S, Lim C, Grunbaum JA, Wechsler H. Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2005. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Surveillance Summaries. 2006; 55/No. SS-5.
- Luthar, SS, Cicchetti, D, Becker, B (2000) The construct of resilience: a critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Dev 71: pp. 543-562 CrossRef
- Deković, M (1999) Risk and protective factors in the development of problem behavior during adolescence. J Youth Adolesc 28: pp. 667-685 CrossRef
- Jessor, R, Turbin, MS, Costa, FM (1998) Protective factors in adolescent health behavior. J Pers Soc Psychol 75: pp. 788-800 CrossRef
- Benson, PL, Roehlkepartain, EC, Rude, SP (2003) Spiritual development in childhood and adolescence: toward a field of inquiry. Appl Dev Sci 7: pp. 205-213 CrossRef
- Davey, M, Eaker, DG, Walters, LH (2003) Resilience processes in adolescents: personality profiles, self-worth, and coping. J Adolesc Res 18: pp. 347-362 CrossRef
- Steger, MF, Kashdan, TB, Sullivan, BA, Lorentz, D (2008) Understanding the search for meaning in life: personality, cognitive style, and the dynamic between seeking and experiencing meaning. J Pers 76: pp. 199-228 CrossRef
- Torsheim, T, Aaroe, LE, Wold, B (2001) Sense of coherence and school-related stress as predictors of subjective health complaints in early adolescence: indirect or direct relationships?. Soc Sci Med 53: pp. 603-614 CrossRef
- Halama, P (2000) Dimensions of life meaning as factor of coping. Stud Psycholog 42: pp. 339-350
- Nielsen, AM, Hansson, K (2007) Associations between adolescents' health, stress and sense of coherence. Stress Health 23: pp. 331-341 CrossRef
- Räty LKA, Larsson G, Söderfeldt BA, Larsson BMW. Psychosocial aspects of health in adolescence: the influence of gender, and general self-concept. J Adolesc Health 2005; 36:530.e21–530.e28.
- Simonsson, B, Nilsson, KW, Leppert, J, Diwan, VK (2008) Psychosomatic complaints and sense of coherence among adolescents in a county in Sweden: a cross-sectional school survey. Bio Psycho Soc Med 2: pp. 3-12
- Rathi, N, Rastogi, R (2007) Meaning in life and psychological well-being in pre-adolescents and adolescents. J Ind Acad Appl Psychol 33: pp. 31-38
- Halama, P, Medova, M (2007) Meaning in life and hope as predictors of positive mental health: do they explain residual variance not predicted by personality trait?. Stud Psycholog 49: pp. 191-200
- Hicks, JA, King, LA (2007) Meaning in life and seeing the big picture: positive affect and global focus. Cogn Emot 21: pp. 1577-1584 CrossRef
- Siahpush, M, Spittal, M, Singh, GK (2008) Happiness and life satisfaction prospectively predict self-rated health, physical health, and the presence of limiting, long-term health conditions. Am J Health Prom 23: pp. 18-26 CrossRef
- Steger, MF, Frazier, P, Oishi, S, Kaler, M (2006) The meaning in life questionnaire: assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life. J Couns Psychol 53: pp. 80-93 CrossRef
- Steger, M, Kashdan, T (2007) Stability and specificity of meaning in life and life satisfaction over one year. J Happiness Stud 8: pp. 161-179 CrossRef
- Steger MF. Experiencing meaning in life: Optimal functioning at the nexus of spirituality, psychopathology, and well-being. In: Wong PTP, Fry PS, eds. The human quest for meaning (2nd ed). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; in press.
- Addad, M, Himi, H (2008) Meaning of life and drug use among Israeli teenagers. Int Forum Logother 31: pp. 43-48
- Nicholson, T, Higgins, W, Turner, P, James, S, Stickle, F, Pruitt, T (1994) The relation between meaning in life and the occurrence of drug abuse: a retrospective study. Psychol Addict Behav 8: pp. 24-28 CrossRef
- Newcomb, MD, Harlow, LL (1986) Life events and substance use among adolescents: mediating effects of perceived loss of control and meaninglessness in life. J Pers Soc Psychol 51: pp. 564-577 CrossRef
- Koushede, V, Holstein, BE (2009) Sense of coherence and medicine use for headache among adolescents. J Adolesc Health 45: pp. 149-155 CrossRef
- Öztekin, C, Tezer, E (2009) The role of sense of coherence and psychical activity in positive and negative affect of Turkish adolescents. Adolesc 44: pp. 421-432
- Myrin, B, Lagerström, M (2006) Health behaviour and sense of coherence among pupils aged 14–15. Scand J Caring Sci 20: pp. 339-346 CrossRef
- Konkolÿ, BT, Bachner, YG, Martos, T, Kushnir, T (2009) Meaning in life: does it play a role in smoking?. Subst Use Misuse 44: pp. 1566-1577 CrossRef
- Simantov, E, Schoen, C, Klein, J (2000) Health-compromising behavior: why do adolescents smoke and drink? Identifying underlying risk and protective factors. Ach Pediatr Adolesc Med 154: pp. 1025-1033
- Steinman, KJ, Zimmerman, MA (2004) Religious activity and risk behavior among African American adolescents: concurrent and developmental effects. Am J Commun Psychol 33: pp. 151-161 CrossRef
- Rahe, RH, Tolles, RL (2002) The Brief Stress and Coping Inventory: a useful stress management instrument. Int J Stress Manag 9: pp. 61-70 CrossRef
- Purebl, Gy, Rózsa, S, Kopp, M (2006) A Rövid Stressz Kérdőív kifejlesztése és pszichometriai jellemzőinek előzetes adatai. (Development of and preliminary psychometric results with the Hungarian version of the Brief Stress and Coping Questionnaire). Mentálhig Pszichoszom 7: pp. 217-224 CrossRef
- Skrabski, A, Kopp, M, Rózsa, S, Réthely, J, Rahe, RH (2005) Life meaning: an important correlate of health in the Hungarian population. Int J Behav Med 12: pp. 78-85 CrossRef
- Ross, CE, Hayes, D (1988) Exercise and psychological well being in the community. Am J Epidemiol 127: pp. 762-771
- World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe and the International Diabetes Federation, Europe. Diabetes mellitus in Europe: a problem at all ages and in all countries. A model for prevention and self care. Meeting. Giorn Ital Diabetol 1990; 10 (suppl).
- Bech, P (1998) Quality of life in the psychiatric patient. Mosby-Wolfe, London
- Bech, P Male depression: stress and aggression as pathways to major depression. In: Dawson, A, Tylee, A eds. (2001) Depression: social and economic timebomb. BMJ Books, London, pp. 63-66
- Bech, P, Gudex, C, Johansen, KS (1996) The WHO (Ten) Well-being index: validation in diabetes. Psychother Psychosom 65: pp. 183-190 CrossRef
- Luszczynska, A, Gibbons, FX, Piko, BF, Tekozel, M (2004) Self-regulatory cognitions, social comparison, and perceived peers’ behaviors as predictors of nutrition and physical activity: a comparison among adolescents in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and USA. Psychol Health 19: pp. 577-593 CrossRef
- Steger, MF, Kashdan, TB, Oishi, S (2008) Being good by doing good: daily eudaimonic activity and well-being. J Res Pers 42: pp. 22-42 CrossRef
- Meaning in Life: Is It a Protective Factor for Adolescents’ Psychological Health?
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Volume 18, Issue 1 , pp 44-51
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer US
- Additional Links
- Meaning in life
- Psychological health
- Health risk behavior
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Psychopedagogical Consulting Center, Kovasna County, Saint George, Romania
- 2. Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Szeged, 6722, Szentharomsag street 5, Szeged, Hungary
- 3. Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Campus Delivery Fort Collins, Fort Collins, CO, USA