University of Twente Student Theses


More meaning, less loneliness? A Scoping Literature Review on the Relation Between Meaning in Life and Loneliness

Kerz, J.D. (2023) More meaning, less loneliness? A Scoping Literature Review on the Relation Between Meaning in Life and Loneliness.

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Abstract:Background: While it is well-established that loneliness results in a decreased sense of meaning in life, recent research has indicated that this relationship might be bidirectional. Specifically, it has recently been proposed that meaning in life might have beneficial effects for the prevention and reduction of loneliness by increasing attractiveness, positive regard towards others and coping. However, the research on this relationship is currently scarce and little is known about the underlying mechanisms that can explain the proposed buffering effect of meaning in life against loneliness. The aim of this study was to assess the current state of quantitative evidence. Method: A systematic scoping review was performed. This included a systematic literature search of three online databases, focusing on quantitative research on the meaning-loneliness relationship that included an analysis of mediating or moderating factors. The included studies were assessed regarding their study characteristics as well as their results. Results: The literature search resulted in 11 cross-sectional studies and one experimental study. Within these, meaning in life and loneliness were found to be consistently negatively related across studies with small to moderate effect sizes. The variables mindfulness, positive orientation and religious coping showed significant mediation effects, while nostalgia, reflection, search for meaning, religiosity and resilience showed significant moderation effects. Discussion: While the reviewed studies homogeneously found loneliness and meaning in life to be negatively related to each other, there is a lack of evidence concerning the causalities and the underlying mechanisms involved in this relation. While the current state of evidence showed no support of the hypothesized role of attractiveness and positive regard towards others as underlying mechanisms of the meaning-loneliness relation, the study results were compatible with the hypothesized role of coping. There is a need for longitudinal research to gain more insight into the causalities and underlying factors involved in the bivariate relation between meaning and loneliness.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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