Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 915–929 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Meaning in Life and Subjective Well-Being: Forgiveness and Hope as Mediators

  • İlhan Yalçın
  • Asude Malkoç
Research Paper


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether hope and forgiveness are mediators in the relationship between meaning in life and subjective well-being. The sample consisted of 482 university students. The Meaning in Life Questionnaire, the Scale of Positive and Negative Experience, the Satisfaction with Life Scale, the State Hope Scale, the Dispositional Hope Scale, the Heartland Forgiveness Scale, and the demographic information form were used for data collection. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data. Fitness of the hypothesized model was tested through some model specifications. The results of the study indicated that hope and forgiveness fully mediated the relationship between meaning in life and subjective well-being. The findings of the study have contributed to the efforts to understand factors associated with subjective well-being of university students. These findings were discussed in the light of related literature and implications were suggested for university counseling services and future research.


Subjective well-being Meaning in life Hope Forgiveness 



An earlier version of this study was presented at the İstanbul 2013 World Congress of Psychological Counseling and Guidance, in İstanbul, Turkey, September 08-11, 2013.


  1. Akman, Y., & Korkut, F. (1993). Umut ölçeği üzerine bir çalışma [A study on hope scale]. Hacettepe University Journal of Education, 9, 193–202.Google Scholar
  2. Alarcon, G. M., Bowling, N. A., & Khazon, S. (2013). Great expectations: A meta-analytic examination of optimism and hope. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 821–827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allemand, M., Hill, P. L., Ghaemmaghami, P., & Martin, M. (2012). Forgivingness and subjective well-being in adulthood: The moderating role of future time perspective. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 32–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2002). The pursuit of meaningfulness in life. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 608–618). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). California: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Bugay, A., & Demir, A. (2010). A Turkish version of Heartland Forgiveness Scale. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 5, 1927–1931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carlsson, F., Lampi, E., Li, W., & Martinsson, P. (2014). Subjective well-being among preadolescents and their parents: Evidence of intergenerational transmission of well-being from urban China. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 48, 11–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, D. (2004). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 98–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chan, D. W. (2013). Subjective well-being of Hong Kong Chinese teachers: The contribution of gratitude, forgiveness, and the orientations to happiness. Teaching and Teacher Education, 32, 22–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chiaramello, S., Muñoz Sastre, M. T., & Mullet, E. (2008). Seeking forgiveness: Factor structure, and relationships with personality and forgivingness. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 383–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ciarrochi, J., Heaven, P. C. L., & Davies, F. (2007). The impact of hope, self-esteem, and attributional style on adolescents’ school grades and emotional well-being: A longitudinal study. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 1161–1178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen, K., & Cairns, D. (2012). Is searching for meaning in life associated with reduced subjective well-being? Confirmation and possible moderators. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 313–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Demirbaş, N. (2010). Yaşamda anlam ve yılmazlık [Meaning in life and ego-resiliency]. Master’s thesis, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.Google Scholar
  14. Denizli, S. (2004). The role of hope and study skills in predicting test anxiety levels of university students. Master’s thesis, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.Google Scholar
  15. Dezutter, J., Waterman, A. S., Schwartz, S. J., Luyckx, K., Beyers, W., Meca, A., et al. (2014). Meaning in life in emerging adulthood: A person-oriented approach. Journal of Personality, 82(1), 57–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psychologist, 55(1), 34–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Diener, E., & Ryan, K. (2009). Subjective well-being: A general overview. South African Journal of Psychology, 39(4), 391–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Diener, E., Wirtz, D., Tov, W., Kim-Prieto, C., Choi, D., Oishi, S., et al. (2010). New well-being measures: Short scales to assess flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Social Indicators Research, 97, 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Doğan, T. (2013). Beş factor kişilik özellikleri ve öznel iyi oluş [The five factor personality traits and subjective well-being]. Doğuş University Journal, 14(1), 56–64.Google Scholar
  21. Doğan, T., & Eryılmaz, A. (2013). İki boyutlu benlik saygısı ve öznel iyi oluş arasındaki ilişkilerin incelenmesi [An examination of the relationships between two-dimensional self-esteem and subjective well-being]. Pamukkale University Journal of Education, 33(1), 107–117.Google Scholar
  22. Doğan, T., Sapmaz, F., Tel, F. D., Sapmaz, S., & Temizel, S. (2012). Meaning in life and subjective well-being among Turkish university students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 55, 612–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dogra, A. K., Basu, S., & Das, S. (2011). Impact of meaning in life and reasons for living to hope and suicidal ideation: A study among college students. SIS Journal of Projective Psychology & Mental Health, 18, 89–102.Google Scholar
  24. Emmons, R. A. (2003). Personal goals, life meaning, and virtue: Wellspring of a positive life. In C. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: Positive psychology and the well-lived life (pp. 105–128). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Eryılmaz, A. (2011). Yetişkin öznel iyi oluşu ile pozitif psikoterapi bağlamında birincil ve ikincil yetenekler arasındaki ilişkilerin incelenmesi [Investigating of the relationships between adults’ subjective well-being and primary-secondary capabilities with respect to positive psychotherapy]. Klinik Psikiyatri-Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 14, 17–28.Google Scholar
  26. Eryılmaz, A. (2012). A model of subjective well-being for adolescents in high school. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 275–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Eryılmaz, A., & Atak, H. (2011). Ergen öznel iyi oluşunun özsaygı ve iyimserlik eğilimi ile ilişkisinin incelenmesi [The relationships between adolescent subjective well-being, self-esteem, and optimism]. Electronic Journal of Social Sciences, 10(37), 170–181.Google Scholar
  28. Eryılmaz, A., & Öğülmüş, S. (2010). Ergenlikte öznel iyi oluş ve beş factorlü kişilik modeli [Subjective well-being and big five personality model at adolescence]. Journal of Kırşehir Education Faculty, 11(3), 189–203.Google Scholar
  29. Frankl, V. (1992). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  30. Gere, J., & Schimmack, U. (2013). When romantic partners’ goals conflict: Effects on relationship quality and subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 37–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gilman, R., Dooley, J., & Florell, D. (2006). Relative levels of hope and their relationship with academic and psychological indicators among adolescents. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 25(2), 166–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Halama, P., & Dědová, M. (2007). Meaning in life and hope as predictors of positive mental health: Do they explain residual variance not predicted by personality traits? Studia Psychologica, 49, 191–200.Google Scholar
  33. Heaven, P., & Ciarrochi, J. (2008). Parental styles, gender and the development of hope and self-esteem. European Journal of Personality, 22, 707–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ho, M. Y., Cheung, F. M., & Cheung, S. F. (2010). The role of meaning in life and optimism in promoting well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 658–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Holter, A. C., Magnuson, C. M., & Enright, R. D. (2008). Forgiveness is a matter of choice: Forgiveness education for young children. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), Positive psychology: Exploring the best in people (Vol. 3, pp. 69–88). Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  36. Hombrados-Mendieta, I., García-Martín, M. A., & Gómez-Jacinto, L. (2013). The relationship between social support, loneliness, and subjective well-being in a Spanish sample from a multidimensional perspective. Social Indicators Research, 114, 1013–1034.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1), 1–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Karataş, Z., & Tagay, Ö. (2012). Self esteem, locus of control and multidimensional perfectionism as the predictors of subjective well being. International Education Studies, 5(6), 131–137.Google Scholar
  39. Kelloway, E. K. (1998). Using LISREL for structural equation modeling. California: Sage.Google Scholar
  40. Kemer, G. (2006). The role of self-efficacy, hope, and anxiety in predicting university entrance examination scores of eleventh grade students. Unpublished master’s thesis. Middle East Technical University, Ankara.Google Scholar
  41. Kemer, G., & Atik, G. (2012). Hope and social support in high school students from urban and rural areas of Ankara, Turkey. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 901–911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
  43. Köker, S. (1991). Normal ve sorunlu ergenlerin yaşam doyumu düzeyinin karşılaştırılması [Comparison of the level of life satisfaction of normal adolescents and adolescents with problems]. Master’s thesis. Ankara University, Ankara.Google Scholar
  44. Lawler-Row, K. A., & Piferi, R. L. (2006). The forgiving personality: Describing a life well lived. Personality and Individual Differences, 41, 1009–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Li, T., & Fung, H. H. (2014). How avoidant attachment influences subjective well-being: An investigation about the age and gender differences. Aging and Mental Health, 18(1), 4–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Malcolm, W. M., & Greenberg, L. S. (2000). Forgiveness as a process of change in individual psychotherapy. In M. McCullough, K. Pargament, & C. Thoresen (Eds.), Forgiveness: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 179–202). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  47. Maxwell, S. E., & Cole, D. A. (2007). Bias in cross-sectional analyses of longitudinal mediation. Psychological Methods, 12(1), 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McCullough, M. E. (2000). Forgiveness as human strength: Theory, measurement, and links to well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19(1), 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McCullough, M. E., & Hoyt, W. T. (2002). Transgression-related motivational dispositions: Personality substrates of forgiveness and their links to the big five. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(11), 1556–1573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McCullough, M. E., Pargament, K. I., & Thoresen, C. E. (2000). The psychology of forgiveness: History, conceptual issues, and overview. In M. McCullough, K. Pargament, & C. Thoresen (Eds.), Forgiveness: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 1–14). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  51. McCullough, M. E., Rachal, K. C., Sandage, S. J., Worthington, E. L., Brown, S. W., & Hight, T. L. (1998). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships: II. Theoretical elaboration and measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(6), 1586–1603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. McCullough, M. E., & Witvliet, Cv. (2002). The psychology of forgiveness. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 446–458). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. McGregor, I., & Little, B. R. (1998). Personal projects, happiness, and meaning: On doing well and being yourself. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(2), 494–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Öztürk, A., & Mutlu, T. (2010). The relationship between attachment style, subjective well-being, happiness and social anxiety among university students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 1772–1776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rand, K. L., Martin, A. D., & Shea, A. M. (2011). Hope, but not optimism, predicts academic performance of law students beyond previous academic achievement. Journal of Research in Personality, 45, 683–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ratelle, C. F., Simard, K., & Guay, F. (2013). University students’ subjective well-being: The role of autonomy support from parents, friends, and the romantic partner. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 893–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Şahin, M., Aydın, B., Sarı, S. V., Kaya, S., & Pala, H. (2012). Öznel iyi oluşu açıklamada umut ve yaşamda anlamın rolü [The role of hope and the meaning in life in explaining subjective well-being]. Kastamonu Education Journal, 20(3), 827–836.Google Scholar
  58. Schnell, T. (2010). Existential indifference: Another quality of meaning in life. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 50(3), 351–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., & Park, N. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Shoshani, A., & Slone, M. (2013). Middle school transition from the strengths perspective: Young adolescents’ character strengths, subjective well-being, and school adjustment. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 1163–1181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Snyder, C. R. (1995). Conceptualizing, measuring, and nurturing hope. Journal of Counseling and Development, 73, 355–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Snyder, C. R., Harris, C., Anderson, J. R., Holleran, S. A., Irving, L. M., Sigmon, S. T., et al. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual-differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(4), 570–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Snyder, C. R., Rand, K. L., & Sigmon, D. R. (2002). Hope theory: A member of the positive psychology family. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 257–276). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Snyder, C. R., Sympson, S. C., Ybasco, F. C., Borders, T. F., Babyak, M. A., & Higgins, R. L. (1996). Development and validity of the State Hope Scale. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(2), 321–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Steger, M. F., Frazier, P., Oishi, S., & Kaler, M. (2006). The meaning in life questionnaire: Assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53(1), 80–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Steger, M. F., Oishi, S., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009). Meaning in life across the life span: Levels and correlates of meaning in life from emerging adulthood to adulthood. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(1), 43–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Stillman, T. F., Baumeister, R. F., Lambert, N. M., Crescioni, A. W., DeWall, C. N., & Fincham, F. D. (2009). Alone and without purpose: Life loses meaning following social exclusion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 686–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  69. Taylor, S. E., Kemeny, M. E., Reed, G. M., Bower, J. E., & Gruenewald, T. L. (2000). Psychological resources, positive illusions, and health. American Psychologist, 55(1), 99–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Telef, B. B. (2011). Olumlu ve olumsuz yaşantı ölçeğinin Türkçeye uyarlaması: Geçerlik ve güvenirlik çalışması [Adaptation of Scale of Positive and Negative Experience to Turkish: A study of validity and reliability]. Paper presented at the XI. National Counseling Congress, Ege University, İzmir, Turkey.Google Scholar
  71. Thompson, L. Y., Snyder, C. R., Hoffman, L., Michale, S. T., Rasmussen, H. N., Billings, L. S., et al. (2005). Dispositional forgiveness of self, others, and situation. Journal of Personality, 73(2), 313–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tse, W. S., & Yip, T. H. J. (2009). Relationship among dispositional forgiveness of others, interpersonal adjustment and psychological well-being: Implication for interpersonal theory of depression. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 365–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Türkdoğan, T., & Duru, E. (2012). Üniversite öğrencilerinde öznel iyi oluşun Yordanmasında temel ihtiyaçların karşılanmasının rolü [The role of basic needs fulfillment in prediction of subjective well-being among university students]. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 12(4), 2429–2446.Google Scholar
  74. Türkmen, M. (2012). Öznel iyi oluşun yapısı ve anababa tutumları, özsaygı ve sosyal destekle ilişkisi: Bir model sınaması [The structure of subjective well-being and its relationship with parenting style, self esteem and social support: A model test]. Uşak University Journal of Social Sciences, 5(1), 41–73.Google Scholar
  75. Tuzgöl Dost, M. (2006). Subjective well-being among university students. Hacettepe University Journal of Education, 31, 188–197.Google Scholar
  76. Valle, M. F., Huebner, E. S., & Suldo, S. M. (2006). An analysis of hope as a psychological strength. Journal of School Psychology, 44, 393–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. van der Meer, P. H. (2014). Gender, unemployment and subjective well-being: Why being unemployed is worse for men than for women. Social Indicators Research, 115, 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Varahrami, A., Arnau, R. C., Rosen, D. H., & Mascaro, N. (2010). The relationships between meaning, hope, and psychosocial development. International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, 3(1), 1–13.Google Scholar
  79. Wong, P. T. P. (1989). Personal meaning and successful aging. Canadian Psychology, 30(3), 516–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Wong, P. T. P. (1997). Meaning-centered counseling: A cognitive-behavioral approach to logotherapy. The International Forum for Logotherapy, 20, 85–94.Google Scholar
  81. Worthington, E. L. (2005). Initial questions about the art and science of forgiving. In E. L. Worthington (Ed.), Handbook of forgiveness (pp. 1–13). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  82. Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  83. Zhao, J., Kong, F., & Wang, Y. (2013). Shyness and subjective well-being: The role of emotional intelligence and social support. Social Indicators Research, 114, 891–900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Guidance and Psychological Counseling, Faculty of Educational SciencesAnkara UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  2. 2.Division of Guidance and Psychological CounselingTrakya UniversityEdirneTurkey

Personalised recommendations