Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Valentiner, David P.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Meaning-making theory posits that appraisal of a stressful event leads to distress if it is discrepant with one’s sense of “global meaning,” and such distress stimulates meaning-making processes aimed at eliminating the discrepancy. If meaning making leads to new meaning (i.e., “meaning made”), the stress-induced discrepancy is reduced, which generally is expected to result in positive adjustment. This study investigated the factorial structure of the meaning made construct using a sample (N = 372) of Amazon Mechanical Turk workers in the United States having “Masters” status and a minimum approval rating of 95%. Participants reported an average age of about 40 years (M = 39.58, SD = 9.99). Approximately half of participants were female (50.3%) and most identified as White (82.8%). Participants identified their most stressful lifetime event and completed measures of meaning made, general affect, well-being, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Exploratory factor analysis of putative measures of meaning made was performed on a randomly selected subsample and led to derivation of four factors, labeled Connectedness, Disillusionment, Resilience, and Understanding. The resulting factor structure was confirmed using confirmatory factor analysis, and factor indices generally demonstrated adequate internal consistency. In addition, factor indices exhibited convergent and discriminant validity when compared to Meaning of Loss Codebook codes that were assigned to participants’ brief essay responses to questions regarding meaning made. Last, each factor index demonstrated criterion validity with respect to prediction of well-being and/or posttraumatic stress symptoms. Implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.


170 pages




Northern Illinois University

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NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

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