Existential Meaning's Role in the Enhancement of Hope and Prevention of Depressive Symptoms


Please address correspondence to Nathan Mascaro, Department of Psychology, 4235 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4235. E-mail: nmascaro@neo.tamu.edu


Abstract The authors confirmed that existential meaning has a unique relationship with and can prospectively predict levels of hope and depressive symptoms within a population of college students. Baseline measures of explicit meaning (i.e., an individual's self-reported experience of a sense of coherence and purpose in life) and implicit meaning (i.e., an individual's self-reported embodiment of the factors that are normatively viewed as comprising a meaningful life) explained significant amounts of variance in hope and depressive symptoms 2 months later beyond the variance explained by baseline levels of hope/depression, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to experience, extraversion, and social desirability. The authors discuss implications of these findings for the field of mental health treatment and suggest ways of influencing individuals' experience of existential meaning.