Moral Identity Contributes to the Development of Life Meaning among Young Adults

Authors: 
Hyemin Han, Heather Malin, and Indrawati Liauw
Publication Year: 
2016
Publication date: 
March/2016

Life meaning, which refers to coherence in one’s life, goal directedness, purposefulness or the ontological significance of life (Steger et al., 2006), is regarded as a core source for authentic happiness by positive psychologists. Moral philosophers and psychologists (Kristjánsson, 2013; Han, 2015; Hardy et al., 2014) suggest that strong moral identity can significantly promote the development of life meaning. However, previous studies examining the relationship between life meaning and morality used only cross-sectional data. Thus, we aim to build on existing research and clarify the relationship between life meaning and morality with the use of longitudinal data to examine how these two variables impact each other over time. This study is a longitudinal investigation focusing on the transitional period between adolescence and adulthood, which is a critical period for moral identity and life meaning development.

Hypotheses
H1: Moral identity at Time 1 (T1) is positively associated with the development of life meaning over time.
H2: Life meaning at T1 is positively associated with the development of moral identity over time.
Study population
A total of 465 high school seniors in California completed our survey at T1, and again two years later (T2).

Methods
Moral identity was measured by a subscale adapted from the Civic Identi