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Spirituality and Coping: A Study of Stress and Well-Being in Undergraduate Students

Faculty Supervisor:
Paul Lewis
Year of Project Completion:
Katie Robertson


A senior thesis project, paper, and presentation. Is spirituality a viable means of coping with stress? Research suggests that an integrated spiritual life can have a positive impact upon one’s physical and psychological well being. However, few studies have collected data during stressful periods in students’ lives and little attention has been given to the gender aspect within this subject area. Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine the relationships between stress, spirituality, subjective well-being, and gender as the stressor of finals week is approaching. Fifty-seven Bethel College students participated in this study by completing six surveys as well as a debriefing sheet which gathered information regarding social support and socio-demographic information. The surveys measured religiousness (Personal Religious Inventory), stress and coping (Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire and Religious Problem Solving Scales), and well-being and psychological distress (Positive and Negative Affect Scale, Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Langner Symptom Survey). The day before finals week commenced subjects completed these questionnaires for a duration of about 30 minutes. Results were statistically analyzed utilizing correlations and multiple regressions to investigate relationships between the different measures and variables. Findings replicate work that suggests stress and hassles have negative effects on well-being. Results also support previous research findings that individuals with an internal/integrated, collaborative religious coping approach reported an enhanced subjective well-being/outlook on life. Additionally, findings corroborated research that women are interdependent, in that females sought out a greater amount of spiritual guidance and companionship in times of stress than men. Implications of the benefits a holistic approach to coping may have in terms of college campuses as well as helping professionals will be discussed. Internal and external validity concerns will also be addressed.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.