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Original scientific paper

Optimal Experience and Meaning: Which Relationship?

Antonella Delle Fave ; Dipartimento di Scienze Precliniche LITA Vialba

Full text: english pdf 88 Kb

page 285-302

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A large number of studies conducted in the last twenty years show that optimal experience is a positive and complex condition in which cognitive, motivational and emotional components coexist in a coherent and articulated reciprocal integration.
By virtue of its positive psychological features, optimal experience has been sometimes misunderstood as a state which automatically brings about well-being and development. Several studies have disconfirmed this assumption, showing that the outcomes of optimal experience are not automatically positive. Rather, they vary according to the features of the associated activities and to the value system of the cultural environment.
Researchers in this domain have been primarily devoted their attention to the structure of the activities that promote optimal experience, and to the goal pursuit they facilitate. Goals are given a prominent role in development in that they provide individuals with practical orientation and purpose in life. But something is missing in this framework: meaning. What do we know about the relationship between optimal experience and meaning making? Based on findings coming from different contexts and cultures, this paper tries to give optimal experience a role within the long-term process of meaning-making.


Optimal experience; meaning; individual development; culture

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