The meaning in life questionnaire: Assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life

Michael F. Steger, Patricia A Frazier, Matthew Kaler, Shigehiro Oishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1489 Scopus citations


Counseling psychologists often work with clients to increase their well-being as well as to decrease their distress. One important aspect of well-being, highlighted particularly in humanistic theories of the counseling process, is perceived meaning in life. However, poor measurement has hampered research on meaning in life. In 3 studies, evidence is provided for the internal consistency, temporal stability, factor structure, and validity of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ), a new 10-item measure of the presence of, and the search for, meaning in life. A multitrait-multimethod matrix demonstrates the convergent and discriminant validity of the MLQ subscales across time and informants, in comparison with 2 other meaning scales. The MLQ offers several improvements over current meaning in life measures, including no item overlap with distress measures, a stable factor structure, better discriminant validity, a briefer format, and the ability to measure the search for meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-93
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Meaning in life
  • Measurement
  • Purpose in life
  • Scale construction
  • Well-being

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