Validation of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire in an African context
In psychology and other related fields, the study of meaning in life has shown a re-emergence of scientific interest (e.g. Hicks & King, 2009; Ho, Cheung & Cheung, 2010; Steger, Oishi & Kashdan, 2009; Wong, 2011). The recent increase in interest may be attributed to the links made to positive psychological and health outcomes, such as: psychological strengths, subjective well-being and hope amongst others (Diener, 2000; Diener & Ryan, 2009; Fredrickson, 2000; Snyder, 2002; Ungar, 2008, 2011). Research has also shown that a lack of meaning in life has been linked to negative psychological outcomes (Steger et al., 2006; Zika & Chaimberlain, 1992). Whilst authors agree that meaning in life is important the conceptualisation of meaningfulness has been conflicted (Auhagen, 2000). More recently Steger and his colleagues (2006) have conceptualised that meaning in life consists of two inter-dependent constructs; namely the presence of meaning in life and the search for meaning in life. The presence of meaning in life is defined as “the extent to which people comprehend, make sense of and see significance in their lives, accompanied by the degree to which they perceive themselves to have a purpose, mission or overarching aim in life”; and the search for meaning in life refers to the “degree to which people are trying to establish and/or augment their comprehension of meaning in life, significance and purpose” (Steger et al., 2006). Based on this conceptualisation Steger et al. (2006) have developed the MLQ (Meaning in Life Questionnaire) with two separate but interrelated constructs; the Presence of Meaning in life (5-items) and the Search for Meaning in life (5-items). The items of the measure are measured on a 7-point Likert-scale where participants are required to state their agreement with statements ranging from 1 (Absolutely untrue) to 7 (Absolutely true). The aim of this study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (Steger et al., 2006) as a measure of the Search for and Presence of Meaning in life so as to validate the scale in an African context. In an endeavour to validate this scale a multicultural group of students from the North-West University in South Africa (n=326) recruited by their lecturers, completed a set of questionnaires. Most of the participants were female (n=243, 74.5%), while male participants made up 24.5% of the sample. The results of this study are in support of the scale’s reliability and validity in an African context. Confirmatory factor analysis confirms the goodness of fit of the scale. The two factor structure was favoured. In conclusion, future research should also investigate the measurement equivalence of the MLQ on the basis of language (see Hambleton & Zenisky, 2011; Van de Vijver & Leung, 2011). Measurement equivalence and item response theory studies may provide evidence on whether there are cross-cultural and language differences in how participants interpret and respond to the MLQ items. One might also assess relationships between meaning in life and positive functioning indicators in this sample.
- Health Sciences