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Pondering Purpose: The Search for Meaning in Life as Motivated Social Cognition

Vazeou-Nieuwenhuis, Anna (2014) Pondering Purpose: The Search for Meaning in Life as Motivated Social Cognition. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The search for meaning in life has been considered a fundamental human motivation (Frankl, 1963). Although research has pointed toward the importance of the search for meaning in life, the basic processes through which it emerges remain unclear. Because the search for meaning entails schema formation in which one connects individual experiences into a coherent framework (Steger, Oishi, & Kesebir, 2011), and abstract thought instigates the organization of information into such knowledge structures (Trope & Liberman, 2010), we predicted that abstract thought would increase the search for meaning in life. Moreover, we predicted that figuratively removing oneself from the here and now would also heighten the search for meaning. Importantly, we predicted that because schema formation is effortful (Shallice & Burgess, 1996), abstract thought and psychological distance would increase the search for meaning to a greater extent when willingness to exert effort is high rather than low. Nine experiments corroborated these predictions, supporting a view of the search for meaning as motivated social cognition.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Vazeou-Nieuwenhuis, Annaanv44@pitt.eduANV44
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairOrehek, Edwardorehek@pitt.eduOREHEK
Committee MemberLevine, John M.jml@pitt.eduJML
Committee MemberMoreland, Richardclewis@pitt.eduCLEWIS
Date: 22 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 21 March 2014
Approval Date: 22 May 2014
Submission Date: 15 April 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 61
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: search for meaning; abstract thought; psychological distance; motivation; self-regulation
Date Deposited: 22 May 2014 20:49
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:19


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