Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Aaron Wichman, Matthew Woodward, Lance Hahn

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Meaning in Life is a robust predictor of various positive outcomes, and provides a buffer against a host of negative outcomes. Due to this fact, it becomes important to examine all the facets of a meaningful life. One consistent predictor of Meaning in Life (MIL) in the literature is one’s sense of positive affect. I tested the idea that it is possible to doubt (or have confidence in) one’s affect, such that under conditions of doubt, positive affect is less strongly related to MIL. It may be the case that positive affect predicts MIL because of what we think of it, not because it inherently equates to MIL. I rely on existing theory for this prediction (Briñol & Petty, 2022.)

In this study, participants were asked to rate their positive affect and list affect related thoughts before being exposed to either a confidence, doubt, or control writing induction. Participants then reviewed their positive affect related thoughts and were asked to rate their thought confidence before being given the presence subscale of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ) to measure current sense of meaning. Participants were subsequently given a single item self-esteem measure, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) to measure depression and Need for Cognition scale.

Results are consistent with previous research showing positive affect, PHQ, and need for cognition as predictors of Meaning in life. Results also showed an interaction between thought confidence, positive affect, and the doubt induction.


Clinical Psychology | Cognition and Perception | Health Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology