Multiple studies have shown that the sense of belonging and connectedness contribute to meaning in life, but does meaning also influence social connectedness? The present research examines the reciprocal relationships between meaning and different types of connectedness: intimate, relational, and collective. Analyzing data from a nationally representative longitudinal study (Study 1) with cross-lagged panel models, we found that only collective connectedness was prospectively associated with meaning, whereas meaning was prospectively associated with all three types of connectedness, controlling for life satisfaction. The beneficial effect of meaning extended to behavioral indicators of collective and intimate connectedness (Study 2). Higher levels of meaning in life were prospectively associated with an increased likelihood of joining voluntary associations and getting married, and, for people high in marital satisfaction, with a decreased likelihood of marital separation. Together, these findings suggest that the relationship between social connectedness and meaning in life is bidirectional.
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