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When Being Right Resists Being Truthful: Consequences of Barriers to what is Meaningful

© Luis A. Marrero, Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose, January 14, 2021. Updated April 30, 2021

“You shall not follow the crowd in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to join together with a crowd in order to pervert justice;”

Exodus 23:2


This paper will answer the following question: Is what you believe to be right based on truth and reality?


On November 18, 2016, I wrote a paper on this blog titled, “The ‘Meaning’ of the 2016 Presidential Election.” At the time, students and followers of Meaningful Purpose Psychology wanted to know how the science explained an unconventional election’s dynamics and how to best respond. I encourage you to read that paper to contextualize this article.

But let me first answer the question, why would people knowledgeable of Meaningful Purpose Psychology (Logoteleology) think of this science to seek answers about current events? What sets Logoteleology apart from other schools of psychology?

According to Viktor Frankl,

  1. The Psychoanalytic school (Freud’s) pursues happiness

  2. The Individual Psychology school (Adler) pursues power

  3. The Logotherapy school (Frankl) pursues meaning

More current behavioral sciences, such as the Positive Psychology school (Seligman), pursues the good life or the positive aspects of the human experience.

In turn, Meaningful Purpose Psychology (Marrero) pursues truth and reality.  Without a grounding in truth and reality, previous schools’ worthy contributions cannot be fully maximized.  Such an axiom explains the paradox that gave birth to Meaningful Purpose Psychology (MP):

Mankind, I concluded, does not suffer from a lack of answers. Rather, it suffers despite the answers being available.” ~ Luis A. Marrero ~

I must reiterate that as a student of psychology and other sciences, I am very impressed and awed at the contribution of pioneers and their followers in their respective fields. I do believe that answers to our individual, social, and political problems exist. The challenges we face today in our individual homes, communities, and nations do have answers. And these solutions are readily available. You might ask, “If answers do exist and are readily available, how is it possible problems persist?” To answer such a question, let us review MP’s definition of ‘meaning,’ [i] and then use the MP’s Identity Model to answer why current solutions do not solve our fundamental challenges. I will conclude offering solutions to increase the odds that we are implementing healthy and intelligent solutions.

What is ‘Meaning’?

In MP psychology, meanings are intentions and goals backed by reasons, motives, and justifications. Nothing, including behavior, can happen without a reason, motive, and justification. Behavioral action and its consequences are the outcomes of a cause. Said differently, meanings set the behavioral agenda.

“What do you mean, ‘meanings set the behavioral agenda?'” you may ask. Have you noticed that you treat others according to the opinion you have of them? Consider how your attributions of others influence your attitudes and feelings toward them. According to Logoteleology theory, once you ‘lock-on’ to an opinion of other, you will act according to that opinion. There is no way out of that truth.

“Meaning is what is meant.” Frankl, Viktor E., (1988) The Will to Meaning. Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy. New York: Penguin Books, 1988, p. 62

Can Meanings be Smart and Healthy?

Meanings can be intelligent or ignorant, as well as healthy or unhealthy. Hence, meanings have content, and that content has a quality to it. For instance, a weak meaning is based on an opinion, while a strong meaning is based on empirical fact. For example, there is a difference between me telling another person that “I think he went to the laundry” and “He went to the laundry.” The second is more certain than the first. That answers how meanings can be intelligent (confident and robust) versus not.

Again, in MP, meanings can be healthy or unhealthy. A healthy meaning edifies, and an unhealthy meaning demeans and harms. For example, when someone communicates that he loves you, the reasons, motives, and justifications for saying so are to edify, build up, and honor another; to express affection. In turn, when someone states that he hates you, the reasons, motives, and justifications for saying so are to demean, disrespect, and bully.

The previous explanations state why Logoteleology proposes that meanings have content and that such content has a quality. Meanings can be smart (as in Intelligence Quotient) and healthy (e.g., morality, ethics, virtuousness, etc.) as well as dumb (unintelligent) and unhealthy or corrupt.

The MP Identity Model

The MP Identity Model has four components in its simplest form, each element with its construct. I will not cover the detailed construction of each component of the model due to time and space. The reader is encouraged to visit my blog [iii] for more information and to read the soon to be published book, Meaningful Purpose: A Primer in Logoteleology, which I co-author with my colleague, Daniel Persuitte.

Figure 1 Meaningful Purpose Psychology Identity Model

As stated, meanings are intentions and goals backed by reasons, motives, and justifications. These meanings determine and spur a type and intensity of motivation, which fuels purposeful (behavioral) action. (To understand the difference between Meaning and Purpose, please read my paper, Differentiating Between Meaning and Purpose, and Why it Matters. [iv]) Actions have a consequence. Such a result can be minuscule and unnoticed (e.g., the butterfly effect[v]), as well as substantial and consequential (e.g., the aftermath of a riot). The final element, ‘Feedback,’ helps the person or entity determine if the intended consequence matches or fulfills the intended meaning. It answers the question: Is the outcome or result congruent with my goal (supported by reasons, motives, and justifications)?

Among other things, Certified Logoteleologists (MP) analyze two things:

  1. Is the consequence congruent with the intended meaning?

  2. Was the meaning healthy and intelligent?

It should be evident by now that the meaning can be precisely what the person intended to fulfill and thus explains the consequence. Congruence, however, does NOT imply that the meaning was healthy or intelligent. Trained and certified Logoteleologists discern these distinctions.

Incongruent Consequence, Meaning, and Purpose

A competent Logoteleologist, leveraging the MP Identity Model above, can discern why the client’s meaning, purpose, and content are dissonant or lack harmony. Success and failure fall into one of two categories:

  1. The intelligence and health of the meaning

  2. The degree of competence (skills and abilities) of the Purpose (In MP science, Purpose is the field of applied competence, action, doing.)

Hence, I can mean well and be fully committed to doing something, but if I lack the skills, I will not succeed. For example, I might be very willing to fix my non-operating automobile. Still, I will have to pay someone else to fix my car if I lack the skills to repair the mechanical or computer problem.

Also, I can be fully competent to do something yet find it unfulfilling and even meaningless (Which explains many of commerce, government, and industry’s problem with employee engagement or commitment to work.).

Among other MP methods, the Identity Model allows the trained Logoteleologist to guide their client to become more aware and in tune with reality and truth. We confidently know and believe that existing solutions are of no avail unless people

  1. have the competence to solve life’s demands

  2. mean to confront life’s needs and expectations through a meaningful (uplifting and edifying) agenda

Our experience tells us that, as a rule, social corruption, political infighting, employee disengagement, wars, and other evils are not due to the lack of competence. Instead, we are convinced that the bulk of intractable personal and social problems are the outcomes of corrupt meanings.

The MP Identity Model as a Solution

Our experience tells us that, as a rule, social corruption, political infighting, employee disengagement, wars, and other evils are not due to the lack of competence. Instead, we are convinced that the bulk of intractable personal and social problems are the outcomes of corrupt meanings. The good news is that – and this is what Meaningful Purpose Psychology proclaims – there are solutions to our challenges. And also, we can thrive if and when when we pursue meaningful ends. In summary, we can

  1. Learn and apply the competencies that lead to human thriving

  2. Eagerly apply skills and abilities through meaningful (uplifting, virtuous, and edifying) meanings

Is Your ‘Right’ ‘Truthful’?

There are ways to explain why intractable problems are not solved. While not a comprehensive list, here are some of the suspects:

  1. What we believe to be right is not true or based on reality. Yet, we remain indifferent and are not prone to seek truth.

  2. We know and believe it is true and right, but we chose not to be congruent with our beliefs and values. We deny reality and truth.

  3. We know and believe what is true and right, but we lack the competence to put it to practice.

  4. We chose not to embrace truth to justify what is false by attempting to make it right. We lack integrity.

  5. Related to some of the above, we prefer to subscribe to a herd mentality because we lack the courage to contradict those in the majority who follow a false narrative.

When we believe something is right, we need to make sure it is accurate (e.g., true) and real. Accuracy requires that we develop a healthy appetite to be honest, pursue truth, and take responsibility for using our analytical mental skills to discern what is real and not. Unfortunately, many today believe to be right and yet are being manipulated and deceived by masters of propaganda. (I encourage readers to watch, for example, “The Social Dilemma” documentary.[vi]) As long as individuals do not take responsibility to be truthful, they will be victims of deceivers. Again, taking responsibility for one’s life requires having healthy and intelligent meanings which are practiced through supportive skills and abilities.

The quote from the Book of Exodus at the beginning of this article is a bit of advice we should take seriously. Blindly following others without discernment can lead to negative consequences.

“Wanting to be right can get in the way of wanting to be truthful.”

Luis A. Marrero

Confirmation Bias

Among the many root causes of unwelcomed outcomes is confirmation bias. Confirmation biases are a meaning problem that will keep people blinded, bringing on themselves negative consequences. For example, many read and listen to social and news outlets that confirm their predispositions. These predispositions lead to polarization and a lack of cooperation. It helps to understand that our biases are not necessarily right nor truthful. Logoteleology encourages people to replace prejudices and assumptions with truth and reality.

“Logoteleology encourages people to replace prejudices and assumptions with truth and reality.”

It is also essential to realize that meaning disharmony is not only an intra-psychic phenomenon; it is also an interpersonal phenomenon that can either bring us together or tear us apart. When meanings collide amongst individuals or groups of people, the consequences can be harmful. We encourage our readers to join us in increasing meaningful meaning-accuracy and social meaning-harmony.

Logoteleology too encourages people to replace prejudices and assumptions with truth and reality.

Where Do We Go from Here?

I have intended to communicate that we have options for responding to life’s demands and expectations. Two things need to be accomplished if we are going to thrive and live fruitful and fulfilling existences:

  1. Commit to meaningful (uplifting, virtuous, and edifying) meanings

  2. Gain and apply the knowledge and skills in support of your intelligent and healthy meanings

Remember that if the consequences are meaningless and damaging, either the meaning, the competence, or both will need improvement. You can contact us if you need assistance.

All citations searched on January 14, 2021

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