The Life of the Spirit: In The Convergent Points of Dreams, Spirituality and Psychology

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For each PCA, item loadings equal to or greater than 0. Of note, as males and females reported statistically significantly different levels of spirituality see below , PCAs were conducted on samples of only males and only females. Notably, the component solutions extracted by each of these sex-separated analyses were identical to the component solution extracted on the combined sample; thus, only PCAs and confirmatory factor analyses CFAs on the combined sample of males and females are described and discussed. Thirdly, to test the fits of specified solutions, three CFAs Table 2 were conducted.

These correlation coefficients are displayed in Table 3.

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Five individuals three females and two males had incomplete data for the LSS and were subsequently excluded from only these analyses. Participants were categorized into groups of low, moderate, or high spirituality based on their DSES scores. Those whose DSES scores fell at or below one standard deviation below the mean within their respective comparative sample i. Visual inspection of the LSS revealed nonnormal distribution. However, given the exceptional robustness against violations of normality Norman ; Schmider et al.

Mean LSS scores for each group were compared to a clinically validated cutoff score denoting psychological distress and need for treatment in this population Handal et al.

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Inter-item correlations ranged from 0. Item-total correlations ranged from 0. Abbreviated item content and their respective loadings for each PCA are presented in Table 1. In the first PCA, two items demonstrated communalities below. In the second PCA, communalities of all items fell above. The two extracted components accounted for No items loaded onto both components at 0.

Each component demonstrated good-to-excellent internal consistency. Overall, this component appeared to capture the relationship one has with God and as such, was named Closeness to the Divine. The items loading meaningfully onto the second component seemed to capture a higher-level connection to other people, life, and creation, while also iterating a sense of gratitude. Additionally, four of these five items on the second component matched items on a five-item factor identified by Zemore and Kaskutas as capturing self-transcendence.

In borrowing slightly from previously used nomenclature Ellison and Fan ; Zemore and Kaskutas and in an attempt to capture the nuanced qualities of the items loading onto it, the second component identified in this analysis was named Selflessness. While Item 14 did not load onto the single extracted component in the first PCA, it loaded the most strongly of any other item onto the second extracted component in the second PCA detailed above. Also, the two-component solution accounted for greater variance and demonstrated higher communalities among items.

Overall, the two components extracted from the second PCA appeared to account for more variance and demonstrate a stronger solution for the DSES than the single component extracted from the first PCA. Table 2 summarizes available fit indices from each analyzed model and reports interpretive guideline values for indication of good fit suggested in the literature Bentler and Bonett ; Byrne ; Tabachnik and Fidell and utilized in other factor analytic studies of measures of religion and spirituality Fisher In all, this model appeared to have marginal-to-poor fit as the indices examined did not meet generally acceptable cutoffs denoting good fit.

The second CFA Model 2, Table 2 tested the fit of the one-factor solution with Item 14 excluded, as it did not significantly load onto the single extracted component in the forced one-component PCA as detailed above PCA 2. Model 2 demonstrated better fit than the one-factor model with all items. The fit index values suggested an overall acceptable-to-good fit based on generally accepted criteria for these values. Its GFI fell at 0. However, the SRMR suggested less than good fit.

This suggests that, while its SRMR does not meet a commonly accepted cutoff point, the two-factor model Model 3 provides relatively better overall fit than either single factor model for the DSES items investigated in the present study. The standardized regression estimate of Closeness to the Divine and the DSES total score demonstrated negligible, albeit statistically significant, correlations with LSS score, age, year in college, and grade point average.

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The standardized regression estimate of Selflessness demonstrated negligible correlations with LSS score and grade point average, and nonsignificant correlations with age and year in college Mukaka These results revealed that 13 of the 16 items significantly correlated to the LSS total score, but that 3 items did not.

These results reveal that different daily spiritual experiences may relate to nonspecific psychological distress in different ways. Males in the moderate spiritual group did not differ significantly from those in low and high spiritual groups on LSS. The moderate and high spiritual groups of females did not demonstrate significantly different LSS scores. Of the 87 females in the low spiritual group, 46 Of the 71 females in the high spiritual group, only 21 None of the mean LSS score for males in the high, moderate, and low spirituality groups fell above this clinically validated cutoff score.

The results of the present study offer three primary conclusions. The first conclusion supports the use of the DSES as a multidimensional measure of spirituality in university students. Results from principal components analyses and confirmatory factor analyses generally supported a two-factor structure for the DSES over several one-factor structures. This conclusion is in contrast to the presently dominant position of the DSES as a single-factor instrument Underwood ; Underwood and Teresi Conceptually, the items appeared to group into components assessing Closeness to the Divine and Selflessness.

Notably, while it is possible that the exclusion of these two items may result in a cleaner, unidimensional emergent factor structure, the intent of the present study was to investigate the full breadth of content as measured by the published DSES. Additionally, the conclusion of two factors relates to that of Zemore and Kaskutas in an investigation of the DSES in a population of recovering alcohol abusers, as they reported items grouped into those assessing Theism and Self-Transcendence.

Confirmatory factor analyses CFAs supported a two-factor solution over two different single-factor solutions. Single-factor CFAs with all items and all but one item Item 14 contributing, demonstrated fit indices that were below generally accepted cutoffs cited in literature and in recent psychometric work on measures of religion and spirituality Fisher In contrast, the two-factor solution resulted in fit indices that were generally at or above widely accepted cutoffs suggesting that the two-factor solution is better than either single factor solution examined in the present study.

However, importantly, the two-factor solution did not demonstrate perfect fit. In fact, the SRMR fell notably above a value denoting acceptable fit, and other fit indices fell below notably more stringent and conservative values for acceptable fit e. However, the cutoff values utilized in the present study were selected intentionally to minimize the possible rejection of a model that may, in fact, adequately fit the data i.

Regardless, the two-factor model provided relatively better fit than either single-factor model as its values met many more predetermined fit criteria than either single-factor model.

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Why might the DSES demonstrate a clear two-factor solution, one of which strongly related to religiosity and the other of which strongly related to spiritual transcendence and connectedness, in the present sample of university students? Perhaps for university students, the dichotomy of institutionalized religion and individual spirituality remains salient. From a developmental lens, university students most of whom were freshman in the present sample may have not yet fully integrated religion and spirituality as united constructs Koenig Relatedly, it may be that university students do not integrate institutionalized religion and acceptance of others item 14 and selfless caring item 13 , as these two items loaded most strongly onto Selflessness.

Spiritual development may be even more important for those who of Judeo-Christian background which is much of the present sample who study at a religiously affiliated university. While Creech et al. Continued research should study religiosity, spirituality and their integration as well as the dimensions of the DSES in university students at each year level.

The results support a secondary conclusion, in that the DSES demonstrated appropriate concurrent validity with other included measures in the present study. Furthermore, the DSES and its components demonstrated weak or nonsignificant correlations with demographic characteristics. Notably, it may be that age and year in school are negatively associated with spirituality in emerging adulthood. Previous research in university students has suggested that college freshman report higher religiosity and greater numbers of daily spiritual experiences than college juniors and seniors Creech et al.

Continued scholarship in this area is warranted to fully determine the overall relationships between demographic variables and DSES scores. A third conclusion involves the significant difference between males and females on the DSES that was observed, as females reported significantly higher levels of daily spiritual experiences than males. This finding is similar to extant literature suggesting females tend to report more daily spiritual experiences than males, particularly in American samples Underwood Further, these results suggest that significantly different patterns of psychological distress emerge between males and females of low, moderate, and high spirituality.

Females who reported low levels of spirituality had significantly greater psychological distress than females in the moderate and high spirituality groups, and males demonstrated a similar pattern. Of greater importance, however, was that women of low spirituality tended to report symptoms at or above a clinically validated cutoff score denoting psychological distress and need for treatment for use in this population, while males did not tend to report clinically significant psychological distress.

This finding raises questions as to why the differential pattern between males and females is observed. Perhaps females who experience psychological distress distance themselves from spiritual experiences, become less aware of their connectedness to God or other divine beings and to others, and subsequently are more prone to develop psychological distress.

Other work notes a link between self-reported religiosity and greater social desirability and impression management Gillings and Joseph ; Leak and Fish , which may in turn relate to reluctance to report psychologically distressing symptomatology. Alternatively, in the same way that religion may serve as a protective factor in its provision of social support and collaborative coping mechanisms in light of negative events Idler , spiritual experiences and spirituality may function in a similar capacity.

It may be that those who have more daily spiritual experiences are better able to self-regulate their emotions in the same way that those who are highly religious are Watterson and Giesler , and are thus able to monitor and downregulate psychopathological symptoms.

Further research investigating the reasons why this pattern is observed among females but not males in relation to spiritual experiences and spirituality with psychological distress and the influential mediation and moderating factors involved is duly needed. Additionally, this finding carries more practical weight for mental health practitioners, members of the clergy or other religious leaders, and anyone who may work in a setting wherein mental health and spirituality are relevant concerns.

Importantly, continued research on mental health outcomes and their relationships to spirituality in emerging adulthood is warranted. Limitations for the present study are several. Firstly, these results were found in a sample of university students and did not include individuals from a broad age range.

Also, these results were reported in the context of a private, religiously affiliated, Midwestern university. Previous research has suggested that students from private and public universities may differ in their reports of religiosity Low and Handal , and this pattern may be consistent with spirituality, as well. Moreover, the predominance of Catholics in the present sample may notably limit the broad generalizability of these findings to other samples of university students or emerging adults. Further, participants mostly identified as White with relatively fewer students of reported African or Latino descent.

As such, future research is needed to determine if the DSES holds similar factor structure in various samples of university students in public and private, non-religious affiliated universities with a variety of ethnoracial and socioeconomic backgrounds across diverse geographic locations. Additionally, future research should include other samples, including adults and older adults, individuals at high risk for developing psychopathology e.

Secondly, this was a monomethod investigation that entailed only self-report of spirituality, religiosity, and psychological distress. Perhaps obtaining informant-reports when ethically and feasibly available would provide additional context surrounding the constructs of interest in this study. Finally, the present study did not include measures of physical or general overall health. Previous literature has suggested a link between spiritual experiences and physical health outcomes see Underwood in addition to psychological outcomes.

Extending such research to an emerging adult population would be of merit. Thirdly, the confirmatory value of a CFA may be limited if the model is based on exploratory analyses on the same data. Future investigations should maximize sample size i. Finally, future research should more closely examine the relationships between individual daily spiritual experiences, or even other facets of spirituality e. The present study provided correlation coefficients between the LSS and DSES items, and seeks to bring forth future a starting point for continued discussion on mediating or moderating factors between these spiritual facets and psychopathological symptoms.

Perhaps it is no mistake that the DSES items and its two-factor structure with the most support in the present study correspond relatively well with the divine mandates outlined by St. Furthermore, the present study supports appropriate convergent validity with other measures of spirituality and religiosity. Lastly, it demonstrates a unique link between daily spiritual experiences and clinically significant psychological distress in only emerging adult females, as females reporting low levels of daily spiritual experiences tended to report psychological distress at or above a clinically validated cutoff score denoting need for treatment.

The study opens new areas of continued scholarship, and provides meaningful conclusions for psychologists, mental health clinicians, and theologians alike. Acknowledgments No sources of funding are reported. The authors thank the reviewers for their insightful comments, constructive feedback, and meritorious ideas that significantly improved the quality of the manuscript.

The authors contributed to the formulation of the article in the order they are credited. All subjects gave their informed consent for inclusion before they participated in the study.

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