Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Kathleen Cepelka, Sister Janet Mock
The trend in today's U.S. society is one of decreased membership within traditional civic/faith organizations and in particular within women's religious organizations. Women religious are known particularly for their historic contribution to the U.S. social capital (Ebaugh et al., 1996; Nygren & Ukeritis, 1993; Weakland, 1994). Thus, there is a need to study the motivational factors and life satisfaction levels across different generations of apostolic women religious within the Roman Catholic Church.
The purpose of the current study was to (a) develop an instrument specifically designed to assess the life satisfaction levels of the various generations of women religious, (b) establish preliminary psychometrics for this particular instrument, and (c) look for additional information related to motivations within and across generations of women religious that influence Sisters' satisfaction with religious life.
This study describes the stages of item development and the field testing of the LSSAWR (50 items). The quantitative data from a representative nation-wide sample of apostolic women religious (N = 1116) were analyzed and psychometric properties revealed the elimination of four items and the loading of 46 items on one factor of the LSSAWR. Estimate of internal consistency was examined for the LSSAWR and its one factor and indicated the alpha coefficient at 0.95. The construct validity of the LSSAWR was established with two measures; one designed to assess levels of general life satisfaction, Satisfaction With Life Scale (0.47), and the other to assess levels of optimism, The Life Orientation Test (0.21).
Applying the generation theory of Strauss and Howe (1991) to the current study revealed generational differences on the LSSAWR based on participants' responses. Finally, the findings of the qualitative research reasserted the content that originally emerged in the exploratory study. Overall, the results of this study suggest that the LSSAWR has the potential to be used as a screening tool useful to identify levels of satisfaction with religious life among apostolic women religious who have committed themselves to this way of life.