Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

2017

Thesis Director

Ronan S. Bernas

Abstract

Suffering is a common human experience, and is a common underlying feature in those seeking psychological services. Throughout history, philosophy and religion have addressed the subject of human suffering directly, albeit in varying ways. The clinical practice of psychology also seeks to help alleviate suffering in those who seek services, yet the academic study of suffering has been overlooked. Academic psychology has examined the phenomenon of beliefs, and has studied various beliefs and their effects for decades. The present study sought to bring suffering into the academic discussion by examining beliefs about suffering and the well-studied variables of subjective and eudaimonic well-being. This study builds upon the recent work regarding beliefs about suffering of Hale-Smith, Park, and Edmonson (2012) who developed the View of Suffering Scale. This study used the VOSS to measure beliefs about suffering and used various other scales to measure subjective and eudaimonic well-being. The study examines which of the beliefs predict various aspects of well-being. To date, no other studies have explored this particular relationship. One hundred thirty-nine college students participated in the study. Results showed that, as a set, the beliefs about suffering were not predictive of well-being. Two of the individual beliefs (retribution and limited knowledge) were found to be predictive, of some of the well-being variables. The correlations were weak, however, which indicates that further research is needed to clarify these relationships.

Graduate Program

Psychology

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