Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Spirituality, Life Stress, and Affective Well-Being

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Spirituality, Life Stress, and Affective Well-Being

Article excerpt

Recent research has explored many aspects of affective well-being, including depressive symptoms, positive and negative affect. The present study sought to contribute to this line of inquiry by investigating the role of life stress, spiritual life integration (SLI), and social justice commitment (SJC) in predicting affective well-being. Participants were 136 undergraduate students with a mean age of 18.82 (SD = 1.07), and age range of 17-22. Participants completed a questionnaire packet including the Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire (USQ), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS), and Spiritual Involvement Scale which includes SLI and SJC subscales. In line with previous findings, life stress significantly predicted negative affect and depressive symptoms in hierarchical regression analyses. Contrary to previous research, SLI did not predict any aspect of affective well-being. Finally, SJC significantly predicted positive affect, negative affect, and depressive symptoms. Interpretations, implications, limitations, and future research are discussed.

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Researchers have examined life stress and negative life events, and their subsequent contribution to negative outcomes in regard to depression and affective well-being (e.g. Friis, Wittchen, Pfister, & Lieb, 2002; Leong & Vaux, 1991; Maciejewski, Prigerson, & Mazure, 2000; Thomas & Vindya, 2000). Overall, findings have consistently shown increased levels of negative life events to be related to elevated levels of depressive symptoms and negative affect (Kuiper & Martin, 1998; Tesser & Beach, 1998). In the present discussion, we a) survey literature pertaining to stress, spirituality, and affective well-being, b) review of coping model proposed by Park (2005) in which spirituality can be examined, and c) present data examining stress and differing types of spirituality as potential influences on affective outcomes.

The enduring relation of life stress and depressive symptoms has been supported by multiple longitudinal investigations. For instance, Southall and Roberts (2002) conducted a 14 week prospective study investigating the role of attributional style, self-esteem, and life stress on depressive symptoms, and reported that a three-way interaction significantly predicted changes in depressive symptoms. Perhaps more compelling is the evidence found by Mundt and colleagues in a clinical sample (Mundt, Reck, Backenstrass, Kronmuller, & Fiedler, 1998). In comparison to a control sample, clinically depressed patients experienced more stressful life events prior to index hospitalization. Additionally, aggregate totals of negative life events were the best predictors of BDI scores over a 2-year period. Mundt and colleagues also found that patients enduring relapses within three months suffered more negative life events than those patients who did not relapse.

Research has demonstrated the influence of life stress on affective state as well. Tesser and Beach (1998) explored the role of negative life events on negative affect. Results were in accord with the notion that higher levels of negative life events were related to increased negative affect. Fewer studies, however, have examined the relationship between life stress and positive mood. One study by Zautra (1983) linked positive and negative affect with availability of resources, a common potential life stressor, especially in urban environments. Outcomes indicated that positive measures of resources were associated with elevated positive affect, and lack of availability of resources was related to increased negative affect. Although the link between life stress and well-being has been supported by research findings, the role of spirituality has received relatively less attention.

One prominent example of research in the realm of stress and affective well-being by Hammen (1991) outlined the concept of a stress generation hypothesis in which personal predispositions (e. …

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