Meaning, Purpose, and Significance with Michael Steger

by Scott Barry Kaufman, July 31, 2018

Today we have Michael Steger on the podcast. Dr. Steger is a Professor of Psychology, and the Founding Director of the Center for Meaning and Purpose at Colorado State University. He studies the link between meaning in life and well-being, as well as the psychological predictors of physical health and health-risk behaviors, and the facilitators and benefits of engaging in meaningful work.

In this episode we discuss the following topics:

  • The definition of meaning in life
  • The measurement of meaning
  • The dark triad and meaning
  • “The Hitler Problem”
  • Life satisfaction vs. meaning in life
  • Different forms of pleasure
  • The possibility for “meaning exhaustion”
  • Meaningful work
  • The difference between coherence, purpose, and significance
  • Different meanings of purpose
  • The strongest sources of meaning in life


3 Responses to “Meaning, Purpose, and Significance with Michael Steger”

  1. Fiona says:

    Hi Scott, I feel like your research on Maslow is such feature of the show, because you talk about it and other people talk about it, but it’s a void in my mind about what you actually think about it. It’s referred to but we don’t hear about it because you’re always the interviewer. Maybe get a buddy on to interview you? It’s like a weird, tantalising mystery.

  2. Roman Rodriguez says:

    Hola Scott,
    I’m not a researcher or student or work in the field of psychology, yet don’t we all, regardless of status, live and work in a psychology lab? I’ll admit many of the podcast discussions are over my head, but I still enjoy listening and trying to take some part of it with me. This podcast with Michael Steger, was one of those that I struggled with intellectually but was hooked by the content. I’ve discovered for myself how the definition of something, such as purpose or meaning, is relative depending on who you talked to. My initial thought in trying to make some sense of what you and Michael were saying is that “meaning” is the idea, and “purpose” is the action of that idea. I’m not saying this is what I think you meant. It’s the thought that I formed for myself. I began asking co-workers around me how they defined meaning and purpose. Again, I’m not scholar, just a regular dude that listens to your podcast. Keep up the good and fun work.

    Best wishes.
    Roman Rodriguez, El Paso, TX

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