Academic journal article College Student Journal

Measuring Service-Mindedness and Its Relationship with Spirituality and Life Satisfaction

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Measuring Service-Mindedness and Its Relationship with Spirituality and Life Satisfaction

Article excerpt

A self-report measure of service-mindedness was designed in order to fill in a gap in the literature and evaluate a potential link between spirituality and satisfaction with life. A sample of 133 undergraduate students at a Catholic university in the Mid-west completed the Service-Mindedness Scale (SMS), along with the Spiritual Involvement and Beliefs Scale (SIBS) and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). The sample consisted of 45 males (33.8%) and 88 females (66.2%), whose ages ranged from 18 to 24 (M = 19.03, SD = 1.24). Results indicated that the SMS has strong internal consistency as measured by Cronbach's Alpha (a = .934), and that service-mindedness acts as a significant mediator between spirituality and life satisfaction (W = .111). Implications involve increasing service-oriented motives in Jesuit education programs to further align with spiritual goals and increase student life satisfaction.

Keywords: service-mindedness, spirituality, life satisfaction


In recent years, service has become increasingly valued and integrated in higher education (Sikula & Sikula, 2005). As early as high school and even middle school, education systems promote service learning and students are taught the value of providing service to others. However, a review of the literature reveals a gap in understanding how people think about service and how engaged they are in providing service. Further, there is currently no measurement of these concepts. Such a measure would be instrumental in helping institutions focus their efforts in providing opportunities for service learning and promoting involvement in providing service.

One of the first organizations to incorporate service-related activities into its program is the Jesuit education system. Higher education systems in the Jesuit tradition promote not only the performance of service, but also the contemplation of its importance and role in society. Such institutions often encourage students to collaborate with certain charitable organizations and include a service-learning component in the undergraduate curricula. Therefore, the authors theorize that there are two important constructs regarding service-mindedness: perspective of service and performance of service.

Accurate assessment tools for psychological research or intervention are of utmost importance to ensure that outcomes are legitimate. In order for these measures to have the greatest impact, they must demonstrate psychometric strength in terms of both reliability and validity. Thus, the overarching goal of the current study is to create and psychometrically evaluate a scale for the purpose of assessing service-mindedness.

There are many ways to approach a psychometric analysis. In terms of evaluating reliability, one method is to focus on the internal stability of the newly drafted scale by calculating the Cronbach's alpha. In order to evaluate validity, one strategy is to focus on the construct validity of the measure by analyzing how the variable interacts with other theoretically related concepts. Research has established a link between spirituality and providing service (Donahue & Nielsen, 2005) and between volunteering and well-being, mental-health, happiness, and longevity (Borgonovi, 2008; Post, 2005; Schwartz, Meisenhelder, Ma, & Reed, 2003). Further, a review of the literature by Kornninos (2009) identifies weaker results regarding the relationship between spirituality and life satisfaction. Due to this and the relevance of these concepts to Jesuit education, spirituality and satisfaction with life were selected as the variables with which to test construct validity. While service has historically been a significant piece of spirituality for Jesuits, many other world religions place similar importance on service and charitable behavior. For the purposes of this study, spirituality is defined as conceptually distinct from religiosity, though the two concepts do somewhat overlap. …

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