Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Underwood, Ray Joe

Committee Member

Adams-Price, E. Carolyn

Committee Member

Morse, T. David

Committee Member

Kane, Harrison

Committee Member

Young, Scott J.

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Dooley, Katherine

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education


This study sought to extend the findings of previous research about the construct of spirituality–as measured by the Human Spirituality Scale (HSS) developed by Wheat. To expand the research across the entire adult life span, the researcher pooled preexisting data (Wheat) from middle-aged adults with data he obtained from 236 older adults living in independent living facilities. He analyzed the pooled data from 502 adults, with an age range of 25 to 98. Using the pooled data set, the researcher divided the data into five age groupings. He conducted confirmatory factor analysis, of the model of spirituality developed by Wheat, with the two separate data sets along with the pooled data set. The researcher determined that the model was an adequate measure of spirituality across the 5 developmental age groups. He also found the Wheat Model to be adequate when using data from either middle-aged or older-aged adults. Conclusions included: (a) spirituality is a multifaceted concept; (b) the HSS is appropriate for use in the study of human spirituality across the adult lifespan; (c) older adults are more spiritual than middle-aged adults; and (d) women are more spiritual than men. Practitioner recommendations included: (a) teach the dynamics of spirituality and aging in counselor preparation programs; and (b) assess clients’ level of spirituality during intake. Research recommendations included: (a) expand the HSS data set to allow for the development of scale scores to measure the factors proposed by Wheat; (b) develop norm tables to allow for the comparison of total HSS scores and scale scores by age groupings, and by sex; and (c) explore the relationship between HSS scores and other corollary issues such as culture and wisdom.