Date of Award

2002

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Nancy J. Carbonell

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Dennis Waite

Abstract

Problem. The purpose of this study is to explore spiritual beliefs as defined by an interconnectedness with self and others, generated from a relationship with a higher power, and consider its impact on attitude toward life and mental health.

Method. This study employed the survey research method to collect data investigating the relationships between spiritual beliefs, attitude toward life, and mental health. A battery of three instruments was selected for this study. The Royal Free Questionnaire on Beliefs and Experiences, developed by King, Speck, and Thomas (1994), was used for measuring spiritual beliefs. The Optimism and Pessimism Questionnaire provided a global perspective of optimism and pessimism on the participants. The Mental Health Inventory (MHI) assessed the psychological distress or psychological well-being of the participants' focusing on the frequency or intensity of a psychological symptom during the past month.

Results. The relationship between spiritual belief and overall psychological well-being and the relationship between spiritual belief and depression were significant. As the commitment to a particular spiritual belief system strengthened, depression significantly decreased. The relationship between spiritual beliefs and loss of behavioral/emotional control was significant. Participants with a stronger commitment to a particular spiritual belief system reflected lower levels of uncontrollable behavior or emotion. General positive affect, emotional ties, and psychological distress also demonstrated significant relationships with spiritual belief. No relationships between spiritual beliefs and anxiety or life satisfaction were found.

Conclusions. There appeared co be no significant correlation between the spiritual beliefs scores and attitude toward life scores. There was some indication that spiritual beliefs affected mental health. Participants presented with strong general positive affect, suffered significantly less psychological distress in their lives, were less depressed, more in control of their emotions and behaviors, and better able to establish emotional ties with others. Spiritual belief, attitude toward life and mental health, as a set, were significantly related to age. Specific predictors include anxiety, loss of emotional/behavioral control, and psychological distress. Only psychological distress and psychological well-being differentiated the men and women participants.

Subject Area

Spirituality--Psychological aspects, Mental health--Religious aspects, Health--Religious aspects.

Share

COinS