What is it about?

Do people really think about their life's meaning? Is there anything special about people who think about it on a daily basis and those who believe it is an absurd question that is not worth pondering on? In this study, we looked at the way individual approaches to meaning are associated with well-being and psychological maturity. We assessed personality maturity in 364 individuals using an objective performance-based measure, Washington University Sentence Completion Test, that allows to differentiate the stages of ego development. The participants also completed self-report measures of well-being, individual approaches to meaning, and hedonic and eudaimonic motives reflecting the pursuit of pleasure or growth. We found that individuals at higher stages of personality development are happier and are more likely to pursue growth and excellence than pleasure and comfort. They are also more likely to consider the question of meaning an important part of their daily life and are more likely to pursue meaning.

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Why is it important?

Personality development and psychological maturity are crucial for leaders. Theories that aim to explain them, such as Spiral Dynamics and Maslow's self-actualization theory, are very popular in business. However, maturity is very difficult to measure; as a result, the scientific studies exploring its phenomena remain quite scarce. There are also great differences between scholars and individuals in their views concerning the importance of meaning. Some say it's a universal problem, while others believe it's only important for certain people or only becomes important in certain life situations. Our findings indicate that these differences in the importance of meaning can be explained by the differences in psychological maturity between individuals.


Does personal growth bring more happiness together with more complexity? Or was King Solomon right in saying, "in more knowledge there is more grief"? The evidence from previous studies is rather contradictory. Our results suggest that it was not King Solomon, but rather Abraham Maslow who was right: personal growth does bring about happiness. However, the difference that it makes is more in the quality than in the quantity of positive emotions and experiences.

Dr Evgeny N. Osin
Universite Paris-Nanterre

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This page is a summary of: A growing concern for meaning: Exploring the links between ego development and eudaimonia, Frontiers in Psychology, March 2023, Frontiers,
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.958721.
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