The meaning in life questionnaire: Psychometric properties with individuals with serious mental illness in an inpatient setting


Objectives: This study examined the psychometric properties of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ) with individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) in an inpatient setting (N = 96). The 10-item MLQ comprises Presence (perceived meaning) and Search (motivation to discover meaning) scales.

Design: This study focused on the reliability and validity of the MLQ, reporting a range of data, including correlations and regression (predicting scores on a measure of psychopathology, the Brief Symptom Inventory).

Results: Both MLQ scales yielded reliable scores. The current sample tended to report greater Presence, whereas Search means tended to be similar to those reported in other studies. The association between Presence and the Brief Symptom Inventory was not statistically significant. As for Search, people reporting greater motivation to discover meaning tended to report greater degrees of symptoms. The Presence and Search scales correlated at r =.12, which was unexpected given that most studies note an inverse relationship. However, this finding is considered in light of an interaction effect between Presence and Search when predicting psychological distress.

Conclusions: The current findings are supportive of the MLQ's utility with individuals with SMI. Limitations and directions for research are offered.



Document Type





Brief symptom inventory, Meaning in life questionnaire, Purpose, Serious mental illness

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Clinical Psychology