The Psychology of Meaning

Pages: 508
Item #: 4316146
ISBN: 978-1-4338-1224-8
List Price: $89.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $59.95
Copyright: 2013
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories


From moral philosophy and existentialism to the clinical realm of psychotherapy, The Psychology of Meaning explores the multifaceted nature of this highly subjective construct. The volume's contributors examine meaning along five dimensions — the architecture of meaning, responding to uncertainty, meaning from retrospection, compensating for meaning violations, and restoring meaning: physiological and neurocognitive mechanisms.

The editors of this groundbreaking work bring together top researchers and scholars to explore the crucial intersection of the psychological and philosophical dimensions of psychic life. Contributors to this sweeping survey examine not only the many phenomenological aspects of meaning, but also the clinical aspects of people's reactions to the loss of meaning, to uncertainty, and to meaning violations — when things that were once central to one's life no longer make much sense.

The book concludes with a scholarly, clinical survey of how psychotherapy can help restore meaning in the face of persistent meaning violations.

Written for scholars and students in introductory or advanced social psychology courses, The Psychology of Meaning will also appeal to clinicians specializing in existential–humanistic psychotherapy.

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction: The New Science of Meaning
    Travis Proulx, Keith D. Markman, and Matthew J. Lindberg

I. The Architecture of Meaning

  1. Three Forms of Meaning and the Management of Complexity
    Jordan B. Peterson
  2. An Edifice for Enduring Personal Value: A Terror Management Perspective on the Human Quest for Multilevel Meaning
    Jamie Arndt, Mark J. Landau, Kenneth E. Vail III, and Matthew Vess
  3. Beyond Mortality and the Self: Meaning Makes a Comeback
    Travis Proulx

II. Epistemic Understanding

  1. Truth Motivation
    E. Tory Higgins
  2. Lay Theories of Personality as Cornerstones of Meaning
    Caitlin M. Burton and Jason E. Plaks
  3. Making Meaning by Seeing Human
    Adam Waytz

III. Teleological Understanding: A Guide for Living

  1. Autobiographical Memory and the Creation of Meaning From Personally Experienced Events
    W. Richard Walker and John J. Skowronski
  2. How Actors, Agents, and Authors Find Meaning in Life
    Dan P. McAdams
  3. Meaning and Morality: A Natural Coupling
    Ronnie Janoff-Bulman
  4. Wrestling With Our Better Selves: The Search for Meaning in Life
    Michael F. Steger

IV. Teleological Understanding: Explanations for Events

  1. Searching for and Finding Meaning Following Personal and Collective Traumas
    Roxane Cohen Silver and John A. Updegraff
  2. Spirituality and Meaning Making in Cancer Survivorship
    Crystal L. Park
  3. Finding Silver Linings: Meaning Making as a Compensatory Response to Negative Experiences
    Joanna E. Anderson, Aaron C. Kay, and Gráinne M. Fitzsimons
  4. Finding Meaning in One's Past: Nostalgia as an Existential Resource
    Clay Routledge, Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, and Jacob Juhl
  5. Twists of Fate: Moments in Time and What Might Have Been in the Emergence of Meaning
    Laura J. Kray, Hal E. Hershfield, Linda G. George, and Adam D. Galinsky
  6. "It Was Meant to Be": Retrospective Meaning Construction Through Mental Simulation
    Matthew J. Lindberg, Keith D. Markman, and Hyeman Choi

V. Restoring Meaning

  1. Meaning Making Following Activation of the Behavioral Inhibition System: How Caring Less About What Others Think May Help Us to Make Sense of What Is Going on
    Kees van den Bos
  2. The Embodiment of Meaning Violations
    Sarah S. M. Townsend, Dina Eliezer, and Brenda Major
  3. Neural and Motivational Mechanics of Meaning and Threat
    Alexa M. Tullett, Mike S. Prentice, Rimma Teper, Kyle A. Nash, Michael Inzlicht, and Ian McGregor
  4. Still a Thrill: Meaning Making and the Pleasures of Uncertainty
    Timothy D. Wilson, Dieynaba G. Ndiaye, Cheryl Hahn, and Daniel T. Gilbert
  5. What Makes Life Meaningful: Positive Mood Works in a Pinch
    Marc Halusic and Laura A. King
  6. Psychotherapy and the Restoration of Meaning: Existential Philosophy in Clinical Practice
    Peter Zafirides, Keith D. Markman, Travis Proulx, and Matthew J. Lindberg


About the Editors

Editor Bios

Keith D. Markman, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at Ohio University, where he is a member of the social judgment and behavioral decision-making program.

Dr. Markman received his doctorate in 1994 at Indiana University and completed a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at The Ohio State University. He conducts research in the areas of counterfactual thinking, creativity, and psychological momentum and has published over 40 articles and book chapters in these areas.

Dr. Markman is currently an associate editor of Social and Personality Psychology Compass, was nominated for the 2003 Theoretical Innovation Prize in social and personality psychology, and won the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award at Ohio University in 2004. His edited volume, The Handbook of Imagination and Mental Simulation, was published in 2009.

Travis Proulx, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Psychology at Tilburg University's School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Tilburg, Netherlands.

Dr. Proulx received a master's degree in interdisciplinary studies at the University of British Columbia and went on to receive a doctorate in developmental psychology. He subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in social psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Drawing from these diverse perspectives, Dr. Proulx has worked in collaboration on the meaning maintenance model — a discipline-spanning framework that offers an integrated account of inconsistency compensation phenomena. His research focuses on the common ways that people respond to a wide array of meaning violations, ranging from absurdist humor to the absurdity of human mortality.

Matthew J. Lindberg, PhD, is a visiting researcher in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Lindberg received his doctorate in 2010 at Ohio University and subsequently joined the Department of Psychology at Fayetteville State University as an assistant professor. His research focuses on how people think about the world and people around them, and how such thoughts affect their emotions, motivations, and behaviors.

Dr. Lindberg has conducted research on counterfactual thinking, creativity, meaning, conscious and unconscious thinking, and jury decision-making.

Reviews & Awards
An interesting, intellectually stimulating, and thought-provoking read, this book will be valuable to both psychologists and those in the academic realm.