The science

Sense of coherence helps to keep people healthy

Resilience, self-determination and meaningfulness are important elements for Positive Health. These concepts are closely associated with the name Antonovsky. This medical sociologist closely studied the things that would make people healthy (instead of sick). In the Tel Aviv hospital where he worked, he saw many patients who had survived concentration camps in World War II. Many of them were traumatised, but he noticed that some of them were not — even though they had experienced the same things. What typified these people? How was it that they had been able to overcome those terrible experiences?


Antonovsky (1979) found these three properties that he collectively called the ‘Sense of Coherence’:

  1. Comprehensibility
    To what extent are people able to understand their situation (as opposed to being confused)?
  2. Manageability
    To what extent do people feel they can do something about their situation, to make their own choices in life (as opposed to feeling powerless)?
  3. Meaningfulness
    To what extent do people experience meaning in life (as opposed to meaninglessness).

Of these three properties, Antonovsky considers meaningfulness to be the most powerful.