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2015 | 6 | 1 | 79-95

Article title

Role víry v prožívání smysluplnosti života u vysokoškolských studentů


Title variants

The Role of Faith in Experiencing Life Meaningfulness in University Students

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Problem: The aim of this paper is to verify the existence of differences in experiencing life meaningfulness of believers and unbelievers and analyze how much faith affects life meaningfulness. Methods: The sample consisted of 213 university students aged 20-29 years (mean age = 23). Respondents were divided into three groups: Christians (N = 80), Buddhists (N = 25), atheists (N = 108). We used a Existential Scale (ES) questionnaire, 46-item tool, detecting a subjective measure of personal meaningful existence in two dimensions: Personality (sub-dimensions Self-distance and Self-transcendence) and Existentiality (sub-dimensions Freedom and Responsibility). Data were analyzed using SPSS. Results: Using independent t–test, it was confirmed that life meaningfulness was significantly lower for unbelievers in dimension Personality, t(180,943) = 7,013), p < ,001 (this represented a strong effect, d = ,983) and ES Total Score, t(175,424) = 4,201, p < ,001 (this represented a medium effect, d = ,592). Subsequent independent one-way ANOVA (using Welch F) indicated that believers demonstrate a higher life meaningfulness in the dimensions Personality, F (2, 84,212) = 32,062, p < ,001, Self–distance, F (2, 69,585) = 8,556, p < ,001, Self–transcendence, F (2, 79,331) = 26,058, p < ,001, and in ES Total Score, F (2, 74,285) = 9,133, p < ,001. A post hoc Games–Howell indicated that believers (Christians and Buddhists) scored significantly higher in Personality (strong effect, ?2 = ,23), Self-transcendence (strong effect, ?2 = ,19), Self-distance (medium effect, ?2 = ,07), and ES Total Score (medium effect, ?2 = ,07) than atheists. In Personality and Self–transcendence Buddhists also scored significantly higher than Christians. A linear regression was further performed. The faith (Christianity and Buddhism) was a significant predictor of life meaningfulness in ES Total Score, dimension Personality and its sub–dimensions. The religion explains 7,6% (R2 = ,076) of ES Total Score variance, 18,7% (R2 = ,187) of Personality variance, 16,9% (R2 = ,169) of Self–transcendence variance, and 6,9% (R2 = ,069) of Self–distance variance. Finally, we analyzed the influence of gender on the relationship between faith and life meaningfulness. A Pearson correlation explored the relationship between faith and life meaningfulness. This analysis was found to be statistically significant in dimension Personality, r(209) = ,433, p < ,001, and ES Total Score, r(209) = ,276, p < ,001, indicating a strong positive relationship. This relationship was then subjected to a first-order partial correlation in order to explore the relationship controlling for the effects of social support. The first-order correlation was found to be statistically significant in dimension Personality, r(209) = ,432, p < ,001, and ES Total Score, r(209) = ,278, p < ,001, indicating that gender doesn’t affect a relationship between faith and life meaningfulness. Discussion: Analysis confirmed the differences in life meaningfulness depending on faith and corresponds with the results of earlier studies (cf. Mahoney & Grace, 1999; Fromm, 2001; Halama, Martos & Adamová, 2010; Yalom, 2006). Faith seems to facilitate understanding of one’s own world as meaningful, and through religious dogma, traditions and rules provides a firm meaningful life framework. Higher scores of meaningfulness at Buddhists can be explained by the fact that Buddhism compared with Christianity more potentiates the possibility of self-development and a positive perception of the world. The influence of faith on the perceived life meaningfulness is however rather smaller, but still significant. This is consistent with previous studies (cf. Byron & Miller-Perrin, 2009). The biggest influence is evident in the dimension Self-transcendence. Faith, therefore, affects more emotional than cognitive aspects. This is consistent with the fact that faith is more a matter of the heart than sense, rather a kind of sensed, animistic beliefs than rational logical conclusions. The research has some limitations. The research sample consist of specific group of university humanities students. More general population may therefore produce different results. Also the concept of faith (religiosity) was measured in simplex way. For future research it would be desirable to accurately distinguish the different forms of faith (spiritual beliefs) and also monitor their intensity. This could provide further/ deeper insight into the issue of relationship between faith and life meaningfulness. Conclussion: Believers and unbelievers university students significantly differ in their experience of life meaningfulness, especially in the domain of Personality. The actual impact of the faith is not too large and ranges from 6,9 to 18,7% of the explained variance of meaningfulness. The research results and lack of studies on certain aspects of this issue indicate the need for further investigation of the topic.


  • Katedra psychologie a patopsychologie PdF UP, Žižkovo náměstí 5, Olomouc 771 40


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Publication order reference


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