Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Felicia Pratto, Michael F. Steger

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Research on a sense of meaning in life has burgeoned in recent years and studies have shown that meaning is associated with many important variables, such as coping, well-being, and physical health. An important research question that has yet to be adequately addressed, however, is what helps individuals maintain a sense of meaning even in the face of situations that challenge meaning. In the current study, we specifically examined a sense of mattering, an important dimension of meaning, and asked, what buffers the impact of threats to individuals' sense that their life matters? Based on previous research, we hypothesized that religiousness/spirituality and breadth of sources of meaning may buffer threats to mattering and help maintain a sense of mattering. We also hypothesized that self-esteem will moderate responses to mattering threats as self-esteem has been found to be a predictor of compensatory responses in the threat-compensation literature. These hypotheses were tested using a mixed experimental design among a sample of 186 undergraduate students. Results of the present study showed a marginally significant moderation by self-esteem, but not by R/S or breadth. However, exploratory analyses of a subset of the sample revealed a possible moderation by breadth even after accounting for self-esteem. Findings are discussed in light of related literature and the limitations of the present study.

Major Advisor

Crystal L. Park