What undergraduate students perceive to be their meaning in life
For centuries people have wondered about the meaning of life. Scholars and common people have looked at this colossal question and have imagined the possibilities. An assortment of perspectives exists about what brings meaning to human life. Metz (2001) attempted to view the literature on this vast subject and cataloged various viewpoints into two overarching categories: the Supernaturalist perspective, and the Naturalist perspective. These umbrella perspectives refine and process some of the unconnected notions that exist in the fields of philosophy, primarily, but also in the field of psychology, about the meaning of life. Metz’s framework was used in this study as a means to analyze and understand some of the varied perspectives. From his outline, this study was born. The purpose of this study was to understand what undergraduate students believe to be the meaning of life for them. Philosophical and psychological scholars suppose that certain factors in human beings’ lives bring them meaning and fulfillment. This study surveyed students' responses to these suppositions. In the survey students indicated which aspects of their lives brought them meaning, using a Likert-type scale. A survey was constructed by this researcher, using themes from the literature about meaning of life issues. The presented survey was used to uncover how people would rate the existing themes when confronted with them in a self evaluation. One hundred thirty two undergraduate students from the College of Education, at the University of Saskatchewan were surveyed, in October of 2002. Three Educational Psychology 258.3 classes were used in this research. The study found that the participating men and women tended to think similarly about most survey items that were related to their meaning in life. Three hypotheses were examined in this study. The first hypothesis was that the overall ranking given to the meaning of life statements in the survey will differ by gender was supported. Although some similarities did exist, rank order differed between males and females. Hypothesis two was that males and females will differ in their responses on each of the relevant statements relating to the meaning of life. This hypothesis was supported to an extent as well. However, only ten of the forty questions were demonstrated to show statistically significant differences in males/female responses. Hypothesis three was that males and females will differ in their responses to items on the Supernaturalist and Naturalist conceptions of a meaningful life. This was not supported to a great extent. Both males and females tended to rank Naturalist statements higher than they did Supernaturalist statements. The results of the survey indicated that the responding students found relationships to be of primary importance to them. For this sample of students, relationships with friends, family and a significant or intimate partner appeared to be the factors that contributed most to having meaningful lives.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
DepartmentEducational Psychology and Special Education
ProgramEducational Psychology and Special Education
SupervisorKelly, Ivan W.
Copyright DateFebruary 2003
meaning in life
meaning of life