ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (1): 101-110.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2016.00101

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Meaning maintenance model: The development of theory and research challenges

ZUO Shijiang; HUANG Niwen; WANG Fang; CAI Pan   

  1. (School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China)
  • Received:2015-04-29 Online:2016-01-15 Published:2016-01-15
  • Contact: WANG Fang, E-mail:


Meaning Maintenance Model (MMM) is a well-received social psychology theory in recent years, which claims meaning maintenance to be human’s most fundamental social motivation. Meaning violations evoke an aversive arousal, and relieving this feeling provides power to meaning maintenance which motivates compensation efforts to restore the meaning system. In a sense, MMM integrates theories like cognitive dissonance theory and has high explanation strengths. The process of meaning maintenance, including meaning violation, aversive arousal and compensation behavior, is well corroborated by expanded theoretical discussions and a large body of empirical studies. Nevertheless, there are certain problems of MMM, like vague conceptions, inadequate evidence for aversive arousal as a mediator and an alternative explanation of priming against compensation et al. Future researches should test the process of meaning maintenance. Besides, researches can focus the operation of compensation behavior and a positive process of meaning maintenance.

Key words: meaning, Meaning Maintenance Model, meaning violation, aversive arousal, compensation behavior