The many facets of meaning making: Comparing multiple measures of meaning making and their relations to psychological distress

Theodore E.A. Waters, John F. Shallcross, Robyn Fivush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The goals of the present study were to (1) provide a first examination of the potential overlap/independence of three meaning making constructs emerging from distinct literatures, (2) examine those meaning making constructs in relation to psychological distress and (3) assess the extent to which these constructs relate to unique variance regarding psychological distress. Multiple measures of meaning making, including narrative coherence, cognitive mechanisms, narrative theme and post-traumatic growth, and their relations to psychological distress, measured as PTSD and depression, were compared in narratives written by university undergraduates regarding their most traumatic events. Results show that growth, elements of narrative coherence and narrative theme independently relate to PTSD, but not to depression. Stepwise multiple regression analyses and partial correlations suggest that the inclusion of multiple measures of meaning making account for additional variance within psychological distress. These findings suggest that meaning making is multifaceted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-124
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Coherence
  • Contamination
  • Meaning making
  • Narrative
  • Post-traumatic growth
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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