Social Indicators Research

, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 161–181 | Cite as

Complex Experiences of Meaning in Life: Individual Differences Among Sociodemographic Variables, Sources of Meaning and Psychological Functioning

  • Bruno Figueiredo DamásioEmail author
  • Silvia Helena Koller


Recent findings have shown that existential experiences are complex and, at least theoretically, it could be separated into several different categories (meaningfulness, crisis of meaning, existential indifference, and existential conflict). In this study, we sought to examine in a large Brazilian sample (N = 3,034 subjects, from 22 Brazilian states) the plausibility of existence of these categories and how people inserted on them would differ in terms of sociodemographic variables and psychological functioning (engagement with sources of meaning and scores on a set of dispositional and well-being constructs). Our results showed the existence of all four categories of meaning. Men were more frequently classified into the existentially indifferent and crisis of meaning groups. The meaningfulness group presented higher scores in all sources of meaning when compared to other groups, whereas the existentially indifferent group presented the lowest scores. A highly diverse pattern of relationships between the sources of meaning and the levels of meaningfulness for the different categories of meaning was found. Significant differences between the existential indifference and the existential conflict groups were found for subjective happiness, life satisfaction and self-esteem but not found for optimism, pessimism, hope (agency and pathways), and self-efficacy.


Meaning in life SoMe Categories of meaning Existential indifference Existential conflict 



The authors would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their valuable commentaries on previous drafts of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruno Figueiredo Damásio
    • 1
    Email author
  • Silvia Helena Koller
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychometrics, Institute of PsychologyFederal University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Institute of Psychology, Graduate Program of PsychologyFederal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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