An empirical investigation of the relationship between existential meaning-in-life and racial prejudice

Niemand, Johannes Rust (2006-12)

Thesis (MA (Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


This study had two main objectives: Firstly, to investigate the relationship between existential meaning-in-life and racial prejudice amongst students at Stellenbosch University; secondly to investigate how quantifiable aspects of existential meaning-inlife relate to each other to determine existential meaning-in-life in a clear, quantifiable way. The study was conducted on an ad hoc-sample of 149 students from Stellenbosch University. Relevant existential theories were reviewed in order to extract quantifiable aspects of existential meaning-in-life. The following Scales were used to measure these aspects: The Self-Transcendence Scale of the Temperament and Character Inventory; the Conformity Scale; the Self-Reflectivity subscale of the Self-Consciousness Scale; the Interpersonal Reactivity Index; the Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values; and the Purpose in Life Test. A principal components analysis revealed that conformity did not relate adequately to the other variables. The following underlying dimensions of existential meaning-in-life emerged: Self-Absolution, Life Appreciation and Existential Self-Transcendence. These dimensions were entered into multiple regression analyses to predict the respective subscales of the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (COBRAS), which was used to measure racial prejudice. Regression analyses showed Self-Absolution to predict scores on Subscale A of the COBRAS, Life Appreciation predicted scores on Subscale B, and all the dimensions predicted scores on Subscale C. Gender differences in the relationship between predictor variables and outcome variables emerged. It was found that this relationship was considerably weaker in women, if not absent: Only Self-Absolution was found to predict scores on Subscale C, while none of the underlying dimensions could predict scores on any of the other subscales. Gender differences on other variables also emerged, suggesting that the underlying dimensions of existential meaning-in-life may differ between genders. The results of this study, as well as its limitations are discussed, as are recommendations for further study.

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