In this Section
174674 Social support and life purpose among graduate students: An investigation of personal development theory
Monday, October 27, 2008
Several personal development theorists posit that developing social support and discovering purpose in life are necessary steps in the process of positive human development (i.e., Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs), particularly for young adults (i.e., Chickering's Seven Vectors of Development, Parks' Faith Development Theory) . These theories also suggest that developing social support must occur before people have the capacity to discover a sense of life purpose. Despite these theoretical associations between presence of social support and a sense of meaning and purpose in life, no investigations published to date have empirically verified the association between these two variables. In addition, initiatives within higher education institutions designed to assist students in developing social support and discovering life purpose are often inadequate. This study was the first to explore the association between social support and life purpose among graduate students, determining variations in the association when compared by demographic characteristics. Approval for this study was obtained from the university Institutional Review Board in November 2006. Using a cross-sectional, web-based, survey research design a 78-item survey was distributed to a random sample of 1,979 graduate students enrolled at a large research university during spring 2007. Bivariate correlation analyses confirmed the relationship between social support and life purpose, revealing that these variables are significantly correlated in a positive direction among graduate students, regardless of most demographic characteristics. Besides verifying personal development theory, these findings can provide a basis for university-based initiatives designed to enhance social support and life purpose among graduate students.
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: the findings that will be presented come directly from the research study I conducted for my dissertation.
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.