Expectancy violations and the search for meaning among breast cancer survivors

J Posit Psychol. 2013 Sep 1;8(5):10.1080/17439760.2013.807354. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2013.807354.


A number of theoretical perspectives suggest that expectancy violations (EVs) threaten a person's sense of meaning and prompt efforts to reinstate meaning. Yet, little to no research has explicitly examined whether EVs predict actual efforts to search for meaning. The current research redresses this gap in the literature among a sample of breast cancer survivors. The results revealed that EVs, but not life satisfaction, positively predicted the search for meaning. By comparison, the presence of meaning was predicted by both EVs and life satisfaction. Further, EVs predicted an increased search for meaning among participants who simultaneously believed that their life had high levels of meaning. Thus, personal EVs may offer a compelling framework for understanding what prompts searches for meaning.

Keywords: breast cancer; expectancy violations; meaning; presence of meaning; search for meaning.