Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 191–212 | Cite as

Need for Meaning, Meaning Confusion, Meaning Anxiety, and Meaning Avoidance: Additional Dimensions of Meaning in Life

  • Hong ZhangEmail author
  • Zhiqin Sang
  • Changkai Chen
  • Jiawei Zhu
  • Weijing Deng
Research Paper


Two aspects of meaning in life have drawn much attention in previous research: presence of meaning and search for meaning. We proposed four additional aspects concerning individuals’ thoughts and feelings about meaning in life: need for meaning, meaning confusion, meaning avoidance, and meaning anxiety. We developed items to measure these dimensions. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the data fit the factors well. Convergent and discriminant validities of the four dimensions were demonstrated though their distinct patterns of correlations with other variables, such as personality traits, need satisfaction, personal aspirations, life satisfaction, anxiety and depression. Moreover, cluster analysis revealed that individuals could be divided into meaningful groups according to these dimensions, with each group demonstrating unique psychological features. Implications for future studies on meaning in life are discussed.


Meaning in life Need for meaning Meaning confusion Meaning avoidance Meaning anxiety 



This research is supported by Grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China allocated to the first author (Grant No. 31400899). The authors thank Dr. Rebecca Schlegel for her valuable comments on a previous version of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, School of Social and Behavioral SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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