Meanings of “the existential” in a Secular Country: A Survey Study

Niels Christian Hvidt*, Elisabeth Assing Hvidt, Peter la Cour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


“The existential” is a concept that many people use albeit associated with different meanings. In order to increase research-based insight into the meaning of “the existential,” we conducted a questionnaire study in Denmark in 2018 in which we asked 1.106 Danes of various age, gender, educational and geographical background about personal associations linked to “the existential.” Factor analysis of the answers resulted in three different groups of meaning: (1) essential meanings of life, (2) spirituality/religiosity and (3) existential thinking. The findings show that “the existential” serves well as an overarching construct potentially including secular, spiritual and religious meaning domains, at least within the European context.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Existential philosophy
  • Existential psychology
  • Existentialism
  • Religion and health
  • Spirituality and health

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