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Abstract

Much existential philosophical theorizing and experimental psychological research is consistent with the notion that people experience arousal when committed beliefs are violated, and this prompts them to affirm other committed beliefs. People depend on meaning frameworks to make sense of their experiences, and when these expected associations are violated, the offending anomaly is often either assimilated into the existing meaning framework, or their meaning framework is altered to accommodate the violation. The meaning maintenance model proposes that because assimilation is often incomplete and accommodation demands cognitive resources, people may instead respond to anomalies by affirming alternative meaning frameworks or by abstracting novel meaning frameworks. Empirical evidence and theoretical implications are discussed.