Personal Growth Initiative and Subjective Well-being: The Mediation Role of Meaning in Life

Clarissa Pinto Pizarro Freitas, Elif Merve Cankaya, Bruno Figueiredo Damásio, Emily Jean Haddad, Helder Hiroki Kamei, Patricia Renovato Tobo, Sílvia Helena Koller


This study investigated the mediating effect of meaning in life on the relationship between personal growth initiative and subjective well-being. The sample was composed of a total of 1,899 Brazilian participants who voluntarily took part in this study by completing the study survey. Based on the results of the structural equation modeling, the relationship between personal growth initiative and subjective well-being was found to be partially mediated by the presence of meaning in life. Age was found to influence the mediation, as older participants reported greater PGI and MIL. Limitations of the study, as well as directions for future research are discussed.


personal growth initiative, meaning in life, subjective well-being

Full Text:



Battersby, A. & Phillips, L. (2016). In the end it all makes sense: Meaning in life at either end of the adult lifespan. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 83(2), 184–204.

Brown, T. A. (2006). Confirmatory factor analysis for applied research. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Busseri, M. A. & Sadava, S. (2011). A review of the tripartite structure of subjective well-being: Implications for conceptualization, operationalization, analysis, and synthesis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15, 290–314.

Chang, E. C., Yang, H., Li, M., Duan, T., Dai, Y., Yang, J. Z., … Chang, O. D. (2017). Personal Growth Initiative and Life Satisfaction in Chinese and American Students: Some Evidence for Using Resources in the East and Being Planful in the West. Journal of Well-Being Assessment, 1(1–3), 49–56.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Cohen, K. & Cairns, D. (2012). Is searching for meaning in life associated with reduced subjective well-being? Confirmation and possible moderators. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(2), 313–331.

Damásio, B. F. & Koller, S. H. (2015). Meaning in Life Questionnaire: Adaptation process and psychometric properties of the Brazilian version. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, 47(3), 185–195.

Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction With Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.

Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125(2), 276–302.

Diener, E., Suh, E., & Oishi, S. (1997). Recent findings on subjective well-being. Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology, 24(1), 25–41. Retrieved from

Doğan, T., Sapmaz, F., Tel, F. D., Sapmaz, S., & Temizel, S. (2012). Meaning in life and subjective well-being among Turkish university students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 55, 612–617.

Freitas, C. P. P., Damásio, B. F., Kamei, H. H., Tobo, P. R., Koller, S. H. & Robitschek, C. (2018). Personal Growth Initiative Scale - II: Adaptation and Psychometric Properties of the Brazilian version. Paidéia, 28, e2806.

Gable, S. L. & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology? Review of General Psychology, 9, 103–110.

Galinha, I. C. & Pais-Ribeiro, J. L. (2005). Contribuição para o estudo da versão portuguesa da Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS): II – Estudo Psicométrico [Contribution to the study of the Portuguese version of Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS): II – Psychometric Study]. Análise Psicológica, 2(XXIII), 219-227. Retrieved from

Gouveia, V. V., Milfont, T. L., da Fonseca, P. N., Coelho, J. A. P. de M., & Robitschek, C. (2009). Life Satisfaction in Brazil: Testing the Psychometric Properties of the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) in Five Brazilian Samples. Social Indicators Research, 90(2), 267–277. 1

Hardin, E. E., Weigold, I. K., Robitschek, C., & Nixon, A. E. (2007). Self-discrepancy and distress: The role of personal growth initiative. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54(1), 86–92.

Hill, C. E., Bowers, G., Costello, A., England, J., Houston-Ludlam, A., Knowlton, G., … Thompson, B. J. (2013). What’s It all about? A qualitative study of undergraduate students’ beliefs about meaning of life. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 53, 386–414. 0022167813477733

Hill, C. E., Kline, K., Bauvan, V., Brent, T., Breslin, C., Calderon, M., … Knox, S. (2015). What’s it all about? A qualitative study of meaning in life for counseling psychology doctoral students. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 28(1), 1–26.

Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. (2010). Censo Demográfico 2010: Características da população e dos domicílios - Resultados do Universo [Census 2010: Population characteristics and household - Universe Results]. Rio de Janeiro, RJ: IBGE.

Ivtzan, I., Chan, C. P. L., Gardner, H. E., & Prashar, K. (2011). Linking religion and spirituality with psychological wellbeing: Examining self-actualisation, meaning in life, and personal growth initiative. Journal of Religion and Health, 51, 13–30.

Kashdan, T. B. & Steger, M. F. (2007). Curiosity and pathways to well-being and meaning in life: Traits, states, and everyday behaviors. Motivation and Emotion, 31, 159–173.

Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Wood, A. M., Osborne, G., & Hurling, R. (2009). Measuring happiness: The higher order factor structure of subjective and psychological well-being measures. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(8), 878–884.

Luyckx, K. & Robitschek, C. (2014). Personal growth initiative and identity formation in adolescence through young adulthood: mediating processes on the pathway to well-being. Journal of Adolescence, 37(7), 973–981.

Meyers, M. C., van Woerkom, M., de Reuver, R. S. M., Bakk, Z., & Oberski, D. L. (2015). Enhancing psychological capital and personal growth initiative: Working on strengths or deficiencies. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62(1), 50–62.

Muthén, L. K. & Muthén, B. O. (2010). Mplus: Statistical analysis with latent variables. User’s guide. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.

Navascués, A., Calvo Medel, D., & Bombin Martín, A. (2016). Efectos del bienestar subjetivo y psicológico en los resultados terapéuticos de un hospital de día [Effects of subjective and psychological well-being on the therapeutic outcomes at a day hospital]. Acción Psicológica, 13(2), 143–156. 10.5944/ap.13.2.15818

Park, N., Park, M., & Peterson, C. (2010). When is the search for meaning related to life satisfaction? Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 2(1), 1–13.

Prager, E. (1996). Exploring personal meaning in an age-differentiated Australian sample: Another look at the Sources of Meaning Profile (SOMP). Journal of Aging Studies, 10(2), 117–136.

Rapheal, J. & Paul, V. K. (2012). Self-actualization and personal growth initiative among the teachers of adolescents. Scopus, 2(2), 61–65.

Robitschek, C. (1998). Personal growth initiative: The construct and its measure. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 30(4), 183–198. Retrieved from

Robitschek, C. & Kashubeck, S. (1999). A structural model of parental alcoholism, family functioning, and psychological health: The mediating effects of hardiness and personal growth orientation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 46, 159–172. Retrieved from

Robitschek, C. & Keyes, C. L. M. (2009). Keyes’ model of mental health with personal growth initiative as a parsimonious predictor. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 321–329.

Robitschek, C., Ashton, M. W., Spering, C. C., Geiger, N., Byers, D., Schotts, G. C., & Thoen, M. A. (2012). Development and psychometric evaluation of the Personal Growth Initiative Scale–II. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 59(2), 274–287.

Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the mean- ing of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069–1081

Seligman, M. E. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.

Steger, M. F., Frazier, P., Oishi, S., & Kaler, M. (2006). The meaning in life questionnaire: Assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53(1), 80–93.

Steger, M. F., Oishi, S., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009). Meaning in life across the life span: Levels and correlates of meaning in life from emerging adulthood to older adulthood. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(1), 43–52. 10.1080/17439760802303127

Steger, M. F., Oishi, S., & Kesebir, S. (2011). Is a life without meaning satisfying? The moderating role of the search for meaning in satisfaction with life judgments. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(3), 173–180. 2011.569171

Steger, M. F., Shin, J. Y., Shim, Y., & Fitch-Martin, A. (2013). Is meaning in life a flagship indicator of well-being? In A. S. Waterman (Ed.), The best within us: Positive psychology perspectives on eudaimonia. (pp. 159–182). Washington: American Psychological Association.

Sood, S. & Gupta, R. (2014). Subjective Happiness as Mediator between Personal Growth Initiative and Life Satisfaction in Adolescents. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 6(4), 89–94.

Taubman–Ben-Ari, O., Ben Shlomo, S., & Findler, L. (2012). Personal growth and meaning in life among first-time mothers and grandmothers. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 801–820.

Taubman-Ben-Ari, O. & Weintroub, A. (2008). Meaning in life and personal growth among pediatric physicians and nurses', Death Studies, 32, 7, 621–645.

Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070.

Weigold, I. K., Porfeli, E. J., & Weigold, A. (2013). Examining tenets of personal growth initiative using the Personal Growth Initiative Scale–II. Psychological Assessment, 25(4), 1396–1403.

Yalçın, İ. & Malkoç, A. (2015). The Relationship Between Meaning in Life and Subjective Well-Being: Forgiveness and Hope as Mediators. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16(4), 915–929. 10.1007/s10902-014-9540-5

Yang, H. & Chang, E. C. (2014). Examining the structure, reliability, and validity of the Chinese Personal Growth Initiative Scale–II: Evidence for the importance of intentional self-change among Chinese. Journal of Personality Assessment, 96(5), 1–8.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Faculty of Psychology. Applied Psychology Service (UNED)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Attribution-NonCommercial  (CC BY-NC)This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.


Accion Psicologica

Applied Psychology Service (SPA), Faculty of Psychology (UNED).

C/ Juan del Rosal nº 10 28040 Madrid.


eISSN: 2255-1271