2nd Edition

The Human Quest for Meaning
Theories, Research, and Applications

Edited By

Paul T. P. Wong

ISBN 9781138110823
Published May 22, 2017 by Routledge
768 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

The first edition of The Human Quest for Meaning was a major publication on the empirical research of meaning in life and its vital role in well-being, resilience, and psychotherapy. This new edition continues that quest and seeks to answer the questions, what is the meaning of life? How do we explain what constitutes meaningful relationships, work, and living?
The answers, as the eminent scholars and practitioners who contributed to this text find, are neither simple nor straightforward. While seeking to clarify subjective vs. objective meaning in 21 new and 7 revised chapters, the authors also address the differences in cultural contexts, and identify 8 different sources of meaning, as well as at least 6 different stages in the process of the search for meaning. They also address different perspectives, including positive psychology, self-determination, integrative, narrative, and relational perspectives, to ensure that readers obtain the most thorough information possible. Mental health practitioners will find the numerous meaning-centered interventions, such as the PURE and ABCDE methods, highly useful in their own work with facilitating healing and personal growth in their clients. The Human Quest for Meaning represents a bold new vision for the future of meaning-oriented research and applications. No one seeking to truly understand the human condition should be without it.

Table of Contents

Lopez, Foreword. Part I: Theories. Wong, Toward a Dual-Systems Model of What Makes Life Worth Living. Klinger, The Search for Meaning in Evolutionary Perspective and its Clinical Implications. Maddi, Creating Meaning Through Making Decisions. Weinstein, Ryan, Deci, Motivation, Meaning, and Wellness: A Self-Determination Perspective on the Creation and Internalization of Personal Meanings and Life Goals. McAdamns, Meaning and Personality. King, Hicks, Positive Affect and Meaning in Life: The Intersection of Hedonism and Eudaimonia. Shmotkin, Shrira, On the Distinction Between Subjective Well-Being and Meaning in Life: Regulatory Versus Reconstructive Functions in the Face of a Hostile World. Steger, Experiencing Meaning in Life: Optimal Functioning at the Nexus of Well-Being, Psychopathology, and Spirituality. Aron, Aron, The Meaning of Love. Tomer, Meaning and Death Attitudes. Ryff, Existential Well-Being and Health. Kwee, Relational Buddhism: A Psychological Quest for Meaning and Sustainable Happiness. Part II: Research. Peterson, Park, Character Strengths and the Life of Meaning. Sommer, Baumeister, Stillman, The Construction of Meaning from Life Events: Empirical Studies of Personal Narratives. Beike, Crone, Autobiographical Memory and Personal Meaning: Stable Versus Flexible Meanings of Remembered Life Experiences. Shek, Life Meaning and Purpose in Life Among Chinese Adolescents: What Can We Learn from Chinese Studies in Hong Kong? Macdonald, Wong, Gingras, Meaning-in-Life Measures and Development of a Brief Version of the Personal Meaning Profile. Reker, Birren, Svensson, Restoring, Maintaining, and Enhancing Personal Meaning in Life Through Autobiographical Methods. Krause, Meaning in Life and Healthy Aging. Reker, Wong, Personal Meaning in Life and Psychosocial Adaptation in the Later Years. Aspinwall, Leaf, Leachman, Meaning and Agency in the Context of Genetic Testing for Familial Cancer. Part III: Applications. Slattery, Park, Clinical Approaches to Discrepancies in Meaning: Conceptualization, Assessment, and Treatment. Park, Meaning and Meaning Making in Cancer Survivorship. Wrosch, Scheier, Miller, Carver, When Meaning is Threatened: The Importance of Goal Adjustment for Psychological and Physical Health. Tedeschi, Calhoun, Pathways to Personal Transformation: Theoretical and Empirical Developments. Ventegodt, Merrick, The Human Heart or Recovering the Meaning of Life: A Theory Integrating Sexuality, Meaning of Life, and Sense of Coherence Applied in Holistic Therapy. Wong, Wong, A Meaning-Centered Approach to Building Youth Resilience. Wong, From Logotherapy to Meaning-Centered Counseling and Therapy.

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Paul T. P. Wong, PhD, is a registered clinical psychologist in Ontario, Canada. He is president of the International Network on Personal Meaning, editor of the International Journal of Personal Meaning, and has held professional positions at various universities.


“The human heart is a meaning-making organ. Living meaningfully with intention is a fulcrum that can counter the gravity of any predicament. In The Human Quest for Meaning a host of old pros provide the theory, research, and methods of meaning-centered practice.” - Jeffrey K. Zeig, The Milton H. Erickson Foundation, Arizona, USA

“This new edition of The Human Quest for Meaning: Theories, Research, and Applications presents much of the best thinking and research on the human quest for meaning done in clinical, experimental, and social psychology today. Paul T.P. Wong has done a commendable job in selecting and bringing together leading researchers and their ideas. This book is destined to become a classic textbook in positive psychology, counseling, and the existential philosophy of psychology.” - Alexander Batthyany, University of Vienna, Austria and author of Empirical Research on Logotherapy and Meaning-Oriented Psychotherapy and Mind and Materialism; principal editor, Collected Works of Viktor Frankl (14 volumes)

“This is a book of enormous scope and diversity. Reflective of Paul Wong’s philosophical legacy, this work combines some of the best literature on meaning research with some of the wisest and most personally meaningful applications of that literature. I strongly recommend this volume.” - Kirk J. Schneider, co-author of Existential-Humanistic Therapy and Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy; editor, Journal of Humanistic Psychology

“Meaning matters!  That’s the persuasive message of this evidence-based review of the roots and fruits of meaning. Anyone interested in the human quest for meaning need look no further than this synopsis of state-of-the-art scholarship.” - David Myers, Hope College, Michigan, USA, author of The Pursuit of Happiness

“Anyone interested in the concept of meaning, whether student or senior faculty, researcher or clinician, will find this volume difficult to put down. Each chapter broadens and deepens our understanding of this fascinating topic. As a whole, the volume should be treasured as a compendium of contemporary thought about meaning.” - Susan Folkman, PhD, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), USA

“Paul Wong is the expert on the psychology of meaning, and this edited volume shows why.  Within these chapters he has assembled a comprehensive, authoritative, and cutting-edge review of the topic. This book is not to be placed on the shelf and forgotten. It is an essential resource for both researchers and practitioners who want a deeper understanding of why meaning matters.” - Robert A. Emmons, University of California, USA, editor-in-chief, The Journal of Positive Psychology

“With absolute conviction, this is the most comprehensive, scholarly statement to date on the nature of meaning and purpose in life. There is no better example of the deep dialogue between science, philosophy, and practice than this classic work. Anybody who is interested in this topic should have a copy on their bookshelf.” - Todd B. Kashdan, George Mason University, Virginia, USA, author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life and Designing Positive Psychology

“Like the previous edition, this book represents a landmark contribution to the study of meaning. This stimulating volume is essential reading for researchers and practitioners interested in the topic of meaning.  It will set the intellectual agenda in this field for years to come.” - Camille B. Wortman, Stony Brook University, New York, USA, coauthor of Traumatic Bereavement and Treatment for Survivors of Sudden Death