Psychological Studies

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 420–428 | Cite as

Beliefs about the Meaning of Life in American and Indian College Students: Similar or Different?

  • Naureen BhullarEmail author
Research in Progress


The top ten themes regarding beliefs about the meaning of life were obtained from archival research by Kinnier et al. (J Humanist Psychol 48:196–202, 2003) from quotes of eminent people like Einstein, Gandhi, Nietzsche, and the Dalai Lama. These themes included the following: “To enjoy or experience life, enjoy the moment, the journey,” “to love, help, or serve others; to show or experience compassion,” “life is meaningless,” “to serve or worship God and/or prepare for the next (or after-) life,” “to become self-actualized,” and “life is absurd or a joke.” The present study compared American (N = 108) and Indian (N = 110) college students’ degree of agreement or disagreement with these themes. Both American and Indian participants reported the most agreement with these two themes: “Main aim of life is to love, help, or serve others; to show or experience compassion,” and “main aim of life is to enjoy or experience it.” Similarly, both American and Indian participants reported the least agreement with the following two themes: “Life is meaningless” and “life is absurd or a joke.”


Meaning of life Themes Eminent people Culture Compassion 



I would like to thank Emily Lipner and Dr Kathryn N. Healey for their assistance in data collection and coding at Widener University, Chester, PA. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Naureen Bhullar, Behavioural Sciences Lab, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560076, India.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest for this manuscript for the author.


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Copyright information

© National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB)BangaloreIndia

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