Purpose vs. Meaning: Dawn of Separation - What Defines and Distinguishes the Two Giant Constructs?

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Is purpose an essential component of meaning? In other words, can one have a meaningful life without having a clear purpose? Considering the intimate relationship between the two, purpose and meaning are commonly used synonymously, and while some scholars see them as distinct; they still regard purpose as a component of meaning. However, recent research suggests that the two constructs are not only distinct; they can also be seen as separate constructs thus deserving personal empirical attention. This paper aims to disentangle the complex tie between purpose and meaning by: (1) clarifying each of their definitions and identifying the distinction between the constructs; and (2) examining the relationship between the two. A differentiation of purpose and meaning will provide a foundation for further research and development of valid measurements and applicable tools to help people experience more purpose and/or meaning in their lives.


Purpose, Meaning, Spirituality, Positive Psychology


Well-being/Flourishing, Other Topics


Literature Review

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Date Posted: 30 March 2022