International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 44-51

First online:

Meaning in Life: Is It a Protective Factor for Adolescents’ Psychological Health?

  • László BrassaiAffiliated withPsychopedagogical Consulting Center, Kovasna County
  • , Bettina F. PikoAffiliated withDepartment of Behavioral Sciences, University of Szeged Email author 
  • , Michael F. StegerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Colorado, Campus Delivery Fort Collins

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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.


Meaning in life Psychological health Health risk behavior Adolescence Protection