Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 161-179

First online:

Stability and specificity of meaning in life and life satisfaction over one year

  • Michael F. StegerAffiliated withEducational and Counseling Psychology, University of Louisville Email author 
  • , Todd B. KashdanAffiliated withGeorge Mason University

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Meaning in life and life satisfaction are both important variables in well-being research. Whereas an appreciable body of work suggests that life satisfaction is fairly stable over long periods of time, little research has investigated the stability of meaning in life ratings. In addition, it is unknown whether these highly correlated variables change independent of each other over time. Eighty-two participants (mean age = 19.3 years, SD 1.4; 76% female; 84% European-American) completed measures of the presence of meaning in life, the search for meaning in life, and life satisfaction an average of 13 months apart (SD = 2.3 months). Moderate stability was found for presence of meaning in life, search for meaning in life, and life satisfaction. Multiple regressions demonstrated specificity in predicting change among these measures. Support for validity and reliability of these variables is discussed.


life satisfaction meaning in life test–retest reliability well-being