Generalized self-efficacy, positive cognitions, and negative cognitions as mediators of the relationship between conscientiousness and meaning in life


Meaning in life (MIL) is a core construct in eudaimonic theories of well-being and an important predictor of physical and psychological health. Although many studies have found that the personality variable conscientiousness has a particular strong relationship to MIL, the mechanisms underlying this relationship have not been examined. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the conscientiousness-MIL relationship would be mediated by generalized self-efficacy beliefs and, hence, more positive and fewer negative automatic cognitions. Measures of these constructs were administered to 273 college student volunteers recruited from a larger pool of students in classes and via e-mail solicitation, and the model was analyzed using structural equation modelling. As hypothesized, generalized self-efficacy, positive thoughts, and negative thoughts fully mediated the conscientiousness-MIL relationship. The model accounted for 45% of the variance in MIL, 34% of the variance in positive thoughts, 27% of the variance in negative thoughts, and 35% of the variance in generalized self-efficacy. These results suggest that conscientiousness shapes MIL through raising generalized self-efficacy, increasing frequency of positive thoughts, and decreasing frequency of negative thoughts. © 2013 Canadian Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science