Stressful life events and interpersonal, religious, and spiritual changes
Survivors of stressful life events and traumatic experiences often report positive psychological changes "...as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances" (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004, p. 1). Three often reported areas of growth include having a greater appreciation for life in general, new priorities, and an increased significance placed on interpersonal, spiritual or religious issues. Despite reports of positive changes, the literature on stress-related growth (SRG) is inconclusive as to whether SRG is an illusion or represents actual change. For example, no studies to date appear to use longitudinal data, objective indictors, or behavioral measures of change. Thus, the goal of the present study is to use longitudinal data to examine if individuals who report experiencing stressful events place a greater emphasis on interpersonal, religious and spiritual concerns. 556 students at Indiana State University responded to questionnaires at three different time periods (i.e. before entering college, and again in the spring of their freshman and sophomore years). Questionnaires related to stressful events, religious, spiritual, and interpersonal behaviors were selected and include Commitment Components Items (i.e. Altruistic Life Goals and Personal Growth Life Goals), the Organizational Religiousness Short Form, Brief Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale, FACIT-Sp Meaning & Peace Subscale, Life Attitude Profile Will to Meaning subscale, and Positive and Negative religious coping (RCOPE). Hierarchical regression analyses were performed to determine if they predict changes on the dependent variables. Results show that individuals who reported experiencing a variety of stressful life events showed few positive changes on a variety of interpersonal, religious, and spiritual measures. Results also suggested that females and African Americans reported more positive change when compared to males and Caucasians. Potential reasons for the lack of stress leading to growth are discussed as well as limitations of the study and future directions.
0622: Clinical psychology