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This chapter comprises of the summary of the present study, the conclusions drawn after the analysis of the data and the implications of the study. It also includes the limitations of the study along with the suggestions for future research.
The purpose of the study was to compare the happiness of individuals scoring high on spiritual well being and individuals scoring low on spiritual well being. Further, the study also explored whether there were any significant gender differences in happiness as well as spiritual well being.
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Random sampling method was used to collect the sample. The sample was collected from various post graduate colleges and private companies in the city. First permission was sought from the institutes to conduct the research in their respective campus. Then the questionnaires were administered to the participants.
The sample was administered two questionnaires, in order to measure the relevant variables of the study. Spirituality was assessed with the help of the Spiritual Well Being Questionnaire by Ellison & Paloutzian (1982). Happiness was measured using the Subjective Happiness Scale by Lyubomirsky &Lepper (1999).
The sample size was 222. To compare the happiness of individuals scoring high on spiritual well being and individuals scoring low on spiritual well being, the total sample (N-222) was divided into two groups based on the scored obtained on the Spiritual Well Being Scale by Ellison & Paloutzian (1982). Those individuals whose scores lay one SD above the mean (above 104.38) formed the high group whereas those individuals whose scores lay one SD below the mean (below74.84) formed the low group. Thus, the sample consisted of 44 in the high and 37 in the low group (N=81). For studying the gender differences in happiness and spiritual well being, the sample comprised of 112 male and 110 females (N=222).
The sample belonged to the middle class of society, from the age range of 21 to 30 years of age. It included unmarried individuals of different religious groups (Hindus, Muslims, Christians). It included students as well as working professionals residing in Pune city. The minimum educational qualification of the sample was twelfth grade.
SPSS software was used for the purpose of analyzing the obtained data. The independent samples T Test was employed to compare the groups on happiness and spiritual well being.
Based on the review of relevant literature, the hypotheses of the present study were formulated as:
Individuals who score high on spiritual well being will be significantly happier as compared to individuals who score low on spiritual well being.
There will be no significant difference in happiness among males and females.
Women will score significantly higher on spiritual well being than males.
The findings from the present study can be concluded as follows:
It was found that there was a significant difference in happiness between individuals who scored high on spiritual well being as compared to individuals who scored low. The mean score of the high group was significantly higher on the variable of happiness as compared to the mean score of the low group. Therefore it can be concluded that individuals who score high on spiritual well being were happier as compared to individuals who score low on spiritual well being.
Gender differences were observed on happiness. It was found that there was a significant difference in happiness between males and females, with females scoring significantly higher on happiness in comparison with males. Hence, it can be concluded that women are happier in comparison with men.
No gender differences were observed on the variable of spiritual well being. It was found that there was no significant difference in spiritual well being between males and females. Even though the mean score for women was higher, the difference was not significant. Thus, it can be concluded that there are no significant gender differences on spiritual well being.
IMPLICATION OF THE STUDY
It was found from the present study that individuals high on spiritual well being were happier in comparison individuals low on spiritual well being and no gender differences were seen in spiritual well being. It was also found that women were happier than men.
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The study of gender differences is essential in understanding how different genders respond to different situations. Spirituality can be used in counseling and therapeutic settings as a coping mechanism to enhance mental health. Furthermore, the findings of the study have implications in the medical field, where people with life threatening diseases can be taught to cope using spiritual practices and techniques.
The findings also can be used to create awareness and psycho-educating people about the benefits of spirituality. Since spiritual well being is related with greater happiness, people can use spiritual techniques to improve their well being.
One important limitation in the comparison of individuals scoring high on spiritual well being and individuals scoring low, was that gender was not controlled. There were more women (25) in the high group as compared to men (19). On the other hand there were more male in the low group (22) than females (15). Lee, Seacombe & Shehan in 1991 found that women were more likely to report themselves as happy compared to men (Diener et al, 1999). Gender may have had an influence on the dependent variable, happiness.
Another limitation of the study was that the sample size, for comparing happiness of individuals scoring high and low on spiritual well being, was small. Hence it is difficult to make sweeping generalizations.
The religious affiliation of the sample was not controlled. The sample consisted of individuals belonging to different religions such as Hindu’s, Muslims and Christians. However, the three religious groups were not equally represented. Thus, this becomes a limitation as religion may play a role in an individual’s spiritual well being and happiness. Further, other religious groups were not included which also is a limitation.
The age range of the sample was 21 to 30 years. Hence, the results may not applicable to other age groups.
The sample included individuals belonging to the middle strata of society living in an urban area in Pune city. Thus, individuals from the lower and upper class of society as well as those residing in rural areas were not considered which becomes a limitation as results may not valid for these groups.
Since self report inventories were used for obtaining the relevant data, social desirability and faking could not be controlled. This also becomes a limitation of the study.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
In the present study gender was not controlled while comparing individuals scoring high on spiritual well being and those scoring low on spiritual well being. Some research studies indicate that women are happier than men (Blanchflower and Oswald 2004; Frey and Stutzer 2002; Praag and Ferrer-i-Carbonell 2008 cited in Tiefenbach and Kohlbacher,2013) whereas others suggest that men are the happier sex (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2009 cited in Compton & Hoffman, 2011). Hence it is recommended to take equal number of males and females in order to get a better understanding of the relationship between spirituality and happiness.
Further, it is suggested to consider the religious affiliations of the participants by taking equal number of individuals from each religious group (Cohen, 2002). Also, religious minorities can be included to increase generalizability.
Future research can also study different age groups such as middle aged adults and geriatric population. Research has shown that happiness decreases from youth to middle age and then increases from middle age to old age (Blanchflower & Oswald, 2008 cited in Carr, 2011). Thus, different age group can be compared on spirituality and happiness.
Further research can delve into various other factors such as socioeconomic status, geographical location, marital status, family structure and study its relationship with spirituality and happiness so as to understand if these factors mediate the relationship between the two variables.
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