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Psychol Bull. 2010 Mar;136(2):257-301. doi: 10.1037/a0018301.

Making sense of the meaning literature: an integrative review of meaning making and its effects on adjustment to stressful life events.

Author information

1
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-1020, USA. crystal.park@uconn.edu

Abstract

Interest in meaning and meaning making in the context of stressful life events continues to grow, but research is hampered by conceptual and methodological limitations. Drawing on current theories, the author first presents an integrated model of meaning making. This model distinguishes between the constructs of global and situational meaning and between "meaning-making efforts" and "meaning made," and it elaborates subconstructs within these constructs. Using this model, the author reviews the empirical research regarding meaning in the context of adjustment to stressful events, outlining what has been established to date and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of current empirical work. Results suggest that theory on meaning and meaning making has developed apace, but empirical research has failed to keep up with these developments, creating a significant gap between the rich but abstract theories and empirical tests of them. Given current empirical findings, some aspects of the meaning-making model appear to be well supported but others are not, and the quality of meaning-making efforts and meanings made may be at least as important as their quantity. This article concludes with specific suggestions for future research.

PMID:
20192563
DOI:
10.1037/a0018301
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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