|Institution:||University of New Mexico|
|Keywords:||purpose in life; perceived stress; anxiety; depression; negative affect; positive affect; life satisfaction; appraisal; reactivity; ethnicity; mental health; Psychology|
|Full text PDF:||http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/psy_etds/206|
Although purpose in life (PIL) has been consistently related to better mental health, there is little understanding of whether that may be explained by reducing appraisal of or reactivity to stress. The sample consisted of 546 undergraduate students who completed measures of PIL, perceived stress, and measures of both positive mental health (positive affect, life satisfaction) and negative mental health (negative affect, anxiety, depression). The hypotheses were that PIL would (1) be related to more positive and less negative mental health and (2) be related to less perceived stress, and (3) reduce the effects of perceived stress in increasing negative mental health and decreasing positive mental health. Regression analyses were conducted to test each of the hypotheses in the overall sample and subsamples of male, female, and each ethnicity. The results supported hypotheses 1 and 2. In addition, for hypothesis 1, there were significant interaction effects for negative affect and life satisfaction for the subsample of American Indian/ Alaska Native participants versus the rest of the sample. However, the results were not significant for the hypothesis 3 except for depression in the subsample of male participants. Finally, significant mediation was found with perceived stress acting as mediator between PIL and each mental health outcome. Advisors/Committee Members: Dr. Bruce Smith, Dr. Kamilla Venner, Dr. David Witherington.