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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume VI, Issue VIII, August 2022 | ISSN 2454–6186

Literature Review on the Relationship between Identity Formation and Meaning in Life Among Emerging Adults

Mary Rachelle R Wapano*, PhD, Loressa De Claro Paguta, MA
Psychology Department, Xavier University, Philippines
*Corresponding Author

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract: The present research on the relationship between meaning in life and identity orientation is examined in this literature review. Existing literature defines meaning in life as a variety of things that makes one’s life meaningful, such as a sense of direction, order, purpose, coherence, or goal pursuit. Identity is a well-studied construct in psychological study that refers to a person’s understanding of themselves as a distinct and unique entity. Although developing one’s identity is seen as one path to finding meaning in life, the relationship between identity orientation and meaning in life is not well studied in the current literature. Several research in this review demonstrates the relationship between identity orientation and life meaning. This review of the literature demonstrates that such a relationship is possible because identity orientation can help a person make sense of the world (comprehension), clarify one’s future goals (purpose), and see the value and significance of one’s life (mattering), all of which are dimensions of the meaning in life construct. The researches referenced also examined various meaning in life outcomes, especially for emerging adults. Implications of the findings from reviewed studies and future directions are also discussed.

Keywords: meaning in life, identity orientation, emerging adults


Being able to realize meaning in life is perhaps one of the tasks a person desires to achieve during the course of one’s life. It is evident that having a sense that one’s life is meaningful strongly contributes to positive mental health outcomes and one’s well-being (Steger, Oishi, & Kashdan, 2009) while a lack of meaning may result in an existential crisis (Frankl, 1992 in Feldman & Snyder, 2005).
Meaning in life may sometimes be confused with meaning of life. Martela and Steger (2016) suggest that meaning of life asks what the point of life is whereas meaning in life is concerned with what makes people experience meaningfulness in life. Thus, when asked about the meaning of life, one is asked to evaluate what one thinks about life in general. On the other hand, when asked about the meaning in life, one needs to look into the things that make one’s life meaningful.