Measuring meaning in life in South Africa: Validation of an instrument developed in the USA

De Klerk J.J. ; Boshoff A.B. ; Van Wyk R. (2009)


Investigations into the construct of meaning in life is an important focus area of psychological research. Research has consistently shown a sense of meaning in life to be a significant correlate of mental health and well-being. Most of this research on meaning in life is conducted worldwide with instruments developed in North America. However, inter-cultural measurement of psychological constructs is a concern, as psychometric instruments in one culture are not necessarily transferable to different cultures. In this case study, we examine whether the Life Regard Index (LRI), developed in the USA and a popular scale for measuring meaning in life, is transferable to a sample from South Africa. The results confirm the construct validity of the LRI, but indicate that the LRI's factor structure has changed and two of the original 28 items were not part of the covariance structure. From these results, we conclude that the LRI is transferable to the South African sample, but not irrespectively and without adjustments. It should be used as a one-dimensional instrument with only 26 items before applying it to the South African sample. The study provides evidence that LRI, which was developed in the USA and became a popular instrument for measuring meaning in life, cannot be transferred indiscriminately to a South African sample. This insight contributes to the quality of future research studies in South Africa, not only on the important aspect of life meaning, but also when applying other psychometric instruments developed elsewhere. © Psychological Society of South Africa. All rights reserved.

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