Existential attitudes and Eastern European adolescents' problem and health behaviors: highlighting the role of the search for meaning in life

17 March 2015

Although the role of existential attitudes in adolescent health-related behavior has received increased attention recently, historically it has been under investigated in the field. The present study focuses on existential attitudes related to meaning in life and hopelessness. Relations of presence of meaning, search for meaning, and hopelessness with past and anticipated future involvement in problem- and health-enhancing behaviors were examined in a cross-sectional study of Eastern European (Transylvania, Romania) adolescents (N = 426, 42.1% males; M age = 16.5 year, range 15-18 years). Results indicated that these existential variables were significantly related to higher levels of healthy behaviors and lower levels of problem behaviors (hopelessness inversely). Among these existential factors, the search for meaning in life was the most significant contributor factor for adolescent behavior. As an overall conclusion, results point to the significant role that the search for meaning in life may play in the relation with adolescents' problem and health behaviors. (Contains 5 tables.)