Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

The Multidimensional Existential Meaning Scale: A tripartite approach to measuring meaning in life

To address conceptual difficulties and advance research on meaning in life (MIL), it may be useful to adopt a tripartite view of meaning as consisting of comprehension, purpose, and mattering. This paper discusses the development of the Multidimensional Existential Meaning Scale (MEMS), which explicitly assesses these three subconstructs. Results from three samples of undergraduates showed the MEMS to have favorable psychometric properties (e.g. good factor structure and reliability) and demonstrated that it can effectively differentiate the three subconstructs of meaning. Regression and relative importance analyses showed that each MEMS subscale carried predictive power for relevant variables and other meaning measures. Additionally, the MEMS subscales demonstrated theoretically consistent, differential associations with other variables (e.g. dogmatism, behavioral activation, and spirituality). Overall, results suggest that the MEMS may offer more conceptual precision than existing measures, and it may open new avenues of research and facilitate a more nuanced understanding of MIL.