Detecting and constructing meaning in life events.

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Detecting and constructing meaning in life events.

Three studies examined the meaning ascribed to events varying in intensity and valence and how meaning detection and construction relate to the experience of meaning in life events. In Study 1 participants were more likely to expect meaning to emerge from major life events particularly if they are negative while trivial events were expected to be meaningful if they were positive. Study 2 showed that constructed meaning was more likely to occur in response to negative events while detected meaning was more likely to be associated with positive events. Study 3 showed that this "match" between valence and meaning strategy predicted enhanced experience of meaning in those events. These studies suggest that the more subtle experience of meaning detection may provide a way to understand the meaning that emerges from positive events and experiences.

The Journal of Positive Psychology Vol. 4, No. 5, September 2009, 317–330

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