Psych Abstract: The relationship between depression and attitudinal and behavioral components of spirituality in a sample of students at a Christian university

Research Abstract

Dvorak, V., Heidari, S., Kennedy, B., Lawrence, K., Vega, C., & Dulin, N. (April 2, 2005). The relationship between depression and attitudinal and behavioral components of spirituality in a sample of students at a Christian university. Presented at the Thirty-Fourth Annual Western Psychology Conference for Undergraduate Research, Santa Clara, CA.

Spirituality is a significant component in the lives of many students at Christian Universities. The purpose of this study was to examine correlates of both attitudinal and behavioral dimensions of spirituality in relation to depression in a sample of undergraduate students from Vanguard University of Southern California (VUSC; a small Christian University). The measures used in this study included attitude toward Christianity (Attitude Toward Christianity Scale; Francis, 1978), behavioral assessments of spirituality created for this study (e.g. church attendance), depression (Burn’s Depression Checklist; Burns, 1993), self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1986), and satisfaction with life (Satisfaction with Life Scale; Deiner, 1985). General demographic information was also obtained. Previous research has shown that happiness and religion are positively related (Francis, et al., 2003). The present research examines the behavioral and attitudinal components of spirituality in relation to depression. Satisfaction with life and self-esteem were included as these may be integral components of the self for many Christian students. Participants were 62 male and 176 female undergraduate students at VUSC. They were representative of various majors, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. After informed consent was obtained, the questionnaires were completed voluntarily at the beginning of class sessions. We hypothesized that an individual’s measure of attitudinal and behavioral spirituality would be negatively correlated with their measure of depression. This hypothesis supported the thought that the more spiritual an individual is the less depressed they will be. The results supported these findings with a -.385 (p < .05) correlation between attitudinal spirituality and depression. Behavioral correlations were also supported and will be discussed within. The results revealed a negative -.544 (p < .05) correlation between satisfaction with life and depression. These findings support previous research (Francis, et al., 2003) and indicate that students who are spiritually engaged both attitudinally and behaviorally may be less likely to experience the symptoms of depression as well as be more likely to have a greater satisfaction with life.