Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology

First Advisor

Stefan E. Schulenberg

Second Advisor

Laura Johnson

Third Advisor

Carrie V. Smith

Abstract

Meaning in life has been a popular topic of philosophy and study, and the perceived presence of meaning in one's life has been associated with many positive psychological variables (e.g., life satisfaction), while the perceived absence of meaning has been associated with negative variables (e.g., depression). The Purpose in Life test (PIL) was developed in order to assess the amount of perceived meaning in a person's life. Despite good psychometric support, there have been questions about the structural validity of the measure (i.e., only one model has been replicated, consisting of two factors that reflect exciting life and purpose in life) as well as assertions that it is difficult to understand. The Life Purpose Questionnaire (LPQ) was derived from the PIL and addresses its shortcomings. Although it is easier to understand, there have been no previous investigations as to its factor structure. A final sample of 908 students at the University of Mississippi completed the LPQ, and its factorial structure was examined. Analyses revealed two distinct factors that seem to reflect similar concepts as those of the PIL (i.e., exciting life and purpose in life). Factor loadings ranged from .34 to .87, and the internal consistency coefficient ranged from acceptable to excellent (.79 for the total measure, .84 for factor one, .92 for factor two). Despite similarity in concepts, the factors were not comprised of the same items, although there was some overlap in items that loaded onto each factor for the PIL and the LPQ. Limitations of research include a homogeneous sample and speculation regarding what the LPQ factors actually measure. Future research will include replication of the factor structure as well as investigating associations between the factors and other constructs in order to better determine what each factor is assesses.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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