Research Abstract

Praslova, L., Barsukov, S., & Istochnikova, T. (2006). Life satisfaction, stress and spiritual well-being in immigrant and non-immigrant Russian samples. Presented at the XVIII International Congress of International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, Spetses, Greece.

Recent meta-analysis suggested that the relationship between spiritual well-being and general life satisfaction in Western samples is moderately positive (r=.34, Sawatzky, Ratner & Chiu, 2005). However, research with Russian immigrant samples in USA suggested a somewhat stronger relationship. To further investigate whether this is due to specifics of immigrant samples or to specifics of Russian culture, the current study compares relationships between spiritual well-being, stress, and general life satisfaction in two cultural samples: 1) Russians living in Russia , and Russian immigrants in the US. In the immigrant context, relationship between spiritual well-being and life satisfaction was somewhat stronger than in non-immigrant Russian sample(r=.54 vs. r=.40). However, in both samples this relationship was stronger than that typically found in Western samples. Further research might clarify whether this is due to specific characteristics of Russian culture, for example, value structure; or to how individuals cope with generally more difficult that in typical Western samples life circumstances. Interestingly, while Russian participants reported higher levels of general, work, and family stress, they also reported higher level of life satisfaction. There are several plausible explanations of this; for example, the lower level of life satisfaction in the immigrant sample could be due to the relative deprivation phenomenon. However, the current data suggests that perhaps this is due to immigrant participants’ experience of acculturation stressors, as suggested by participants’ answers to open-ended questions. Examination of specific stress sources among the immigrants suggests that language and immigration are the most stressful aspects of their lives. Perhaps these difficulties threaten participant’s sense of belonging, and healthy spirituality might buffer the effects of these particular stressors by providing a sense of belonging and affirmation.