Interpersonal mattering and the experience of meaning in life

Devin Guthrie, Joe Maffly-Kipp, Chase Gause, Jinhyung Kim, Frank Martela, Joshua A. Hicks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Recent research in positive psychology has proposed that the experience of meaning in life (MIL) is multidimensional and consists of three components: mattering, purpose, and coherence. In this model, mattering has been operationalized as the extent to which people feel like they matter on the scale of the universe. The current research suggests this ‘cosmic mattering’ is only part of the picture and explored the relationships between the tripartite components of MIL and one well-established but previously unintegrated context of mattering: interpersonal mattering. Studies 1 and 2 found evidence that interpersonal mattering plays an important role in MIL even while accounting for cosmic mattering, purpose, and coherence. Study 3 experimentally demonstrated that increasing people’s feelings of interpersonal importance increases their sense of MIL. Together, these studies support the idea that interpersonal mattering is a context of existential mattering that contributes to MIL as much or more than cosmic mattering.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • existential psychology
  • interpersonal mattering
  • Meaning in life
  • positive psychology
  • social mattering

Cite this