The meaning in life questionnaire (MLQ)


Author of Tool: 

Steger, M. F., Frazier, P., Oishi, S., Kaler, M.

Key references: 

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. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.53.1.80

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.

Primary use / Purpose: 

The primary purpose of the 10-item ‘meaning in life questionnaire’ (MLQ) is to aid counseling clinicians in accurately measuring ‘meaning of life’ which is a fundamental cornerstone of humanistic theories of counseling and crucial to well-being more generally.


Despite the importance of ‘meaning in life’ in the field of humanistic counseling it has often been measured poorly. To overcome this Steger, Frazier, Oishi and Kaler (2006) designed and validated the ‘meaning in life questionnaire’ (MLQ). Three studies have now demonstrated that the scale has high internal consistency, temporal stability, factor structure, and strong validity. Furthermore, the MLQ has several advantages over existing scales such as better discriminant validity, brevity, and the ability to measure the search -rather than merely the attainment- of meaning in life.


The psychometric properties of the ‘meaning in life questionnaire’ (MLQ) are extensively discussed by the authors in Steger, Frazier, Oishi and Kaler (2006



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