Meaning in life : an exploration of the relevance of psychological theories to older women
Stockdale Winder, Fern Nancy
The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of meaning in life and to consider the relevance of psychological theories of meaning in life to the lived experiences of meaning in the lives of older women in Saskatchewan. Eight women were interviewed, using open-ended questions, about their life experiences, and in particular were asked what had given them meaning during their lives and how they perceived that meaning to have changed. These interviews were analyzed using a thematic/structural analysis to identify the themes and the structures that were present in the transcripts. First-person narrative accounts were then developed of each woman's story, through a process of interpretive construction. Finally, a comparative analysis was done, comparing the women's stories to the theories. It was found that while psychological theories were generally sufficient in understanding the cognitive aspects of meaning in life, they were less helpful in understanding women whose meanings in life were more experiential. It was also found that various theories of change were more or less applicable to each woman's story, and no one theory stood out as being able to encompass all elements of change or stability.