Research indicates that meaning in life is an important correlate of health and well-being. However, relatively little is known about the way a sense of meaning may change over time. The purpose of this study is to explore two ways of assessing change in meaning within a second-order confirmatory factor analysis framework. First, tests are conducted to see if the first and second-order factor loadings and measurement error terms are invariant over time. Second, a largely overlooked technique is used to assess change and stability in meaning at the second-order level. Findings from a nationwide survey reveal that the first and second-order factor loadings are invariant of time. Moreover, the second-order measurement error terms, but not the first-order measurement error terms, are invariant, as well. The results further reveal that standard ways of assessing stability mask significant change in meaning that is due largely to regression to the mean.
N. Krause, R. David Hayward
Journal of Happiness Studies