Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 2: Scales

Aim: The aim of the current review is to identify instruments used to measure “purpose in life”. Method: The search term “purpose in life” was used in the PubMed interface for Medline. Abstracts were examined for references to rating scales which measured purpose in life. Rating scales were then displayed with hypertext links to relevant studies. Results: 318 results were obtained from the Medline search*. The results are displayed below. 100 abstracts contained references to rating instruments that measure purpose in life. The most popular rating scale from those identified was the Purpose in Life Test followed by the Purpose in Life subscale of the Psychological Well-Being Scale. Discussion: There are two scales that are widely used in the assessment of purpose in life. This literature review was limited by the use of a single search term and did not include hand-searching of the references in the papers of the studies retrieved. Although limited the current literature review provides a useful starting point for further exploration of the literature.

A Sense of Purpose in Life Scale (5)

Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Spiritual Well-Being Scale (3)

Purpose in Life (PIL) Test/Scale (4)(6)(7)(9)(10)(13)(17)(18)(19)(20)(21)(23)(24)(26)(28)(30)(31)(33)(36)(37)(40)(41)(43)(44)(45)(48)(50)(51)(52)(57)(59)(60)(61)(64)(66)(67)(68)(71)(73)(75)(76)(77)(78)(79)(80)(81)(82)(83)(84)(85)(86)(87)(88)(89)(90)(91)(92)(93)(94)(95)(96)(97)(98)(99)(100)

Recovery Assessment Scale (22)

Ryff’s Scales of Psychological Well-Being (SPWB) (1)(2)(8)(11)(12)(14)(15)(16)(25)(?27)(29)(33)(34)(35)(38)(39)(42)(46)(47)(49)(53)(54)(56)(58)(62)(63)(65)(69)(70)(72)(74)

Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (32)

SEQOL questionnaire (55)


  • An incidental finding was the Meaningful Activity Participation Assessment (MAPA) which is used to assess the meaninfulness of activity (see here).
  • Also the Self-Transcendence Scale may be related (see here).
  • The Seeking of Noetic Goals test is suggested to be complementary to the PIL test (see here).
  • A Sense of Symbolic Immortality Scale is another related scale (see here).
  • Life Purpose Questionnaire may be equivalent to the PIL test (see here).
  • The Will-to-Live scale (see here).


Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 1

Having a Purpose in Life and the Risk of Cognitive Decline

Having a Purpose in Life Reduces the Risk of Death

Purpose in Life and Rheumatoid Arthritis

An index of the site can be found here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order. Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk. Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

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