The NAPESS Journal of Physical Education & Sports Science, Under the aegis of NAPESS
ISSN 2229 – 7049 NAPESS – Journal Of Physical Education And Sports Science (Print)
ISSN 2229 – 7316 NAPESS – Journal Of Physical Education And Sports Science (Online)
12010 Vol: 1 Issue: 2010


Author: SAMIRRANJAN ADHIKARI —  Co-Author: KAMAL CHATTOPADHYAY —  Date: 2010-01-01

Abstract: SAMIRRANJAN ADHIKARI Lecturer in Psychology, S.S. College of Education, Shimurali, Nadia, W.B., India and Guest Lecturer, Department of Physical Education, University of Kalyani, Kalyani, Nadia, W.B., India, KAMAL CHATTOPADHYAY Deputy Registrar, University of Kalyani, Kalyani, Nadia, W.B., Former Reader, Department of Physical Education, Union Christian Training College, Berhampore, Murshidabad, W.B.



The meaning in life must be conceived in terms of the specific meaning of a personal life in a given situation. Life is a chain of questions; and in his life, an individual has to set out for finding the answers to these questions by being responsible and also by making proper decisions. Each question has only one right answer. In course of searching the true meaning of his existence, this, however, does not imply that an individual is always capable of finding the right answer or correct solution to each problem, faced by him in his voyage in life.

The Greek word "Logos" represents the word, the will of God, the controlling principles of the universe, or meaning. Dr. Frankl, the introducer of "Logotherapy", translates logos as meaning (Fabry, 1994). Therefore, logotherapy means healing and maintaining health through meaning. According to Frankl (1967,1984,1986) there are two levels of meaning: the present meaning, or meaning of the moment, and the ultimate meaning or super-meaning. Since ultimate meanings exist in the supra-human dimension, which is "hidden" from us, Dr. Frankl believes that it is more productive to address specific meaning of the moment, of the situation, rather than talking about meaning of life in general. According to Frankl's dimensional ontology (Frankl, 1986), human beings exist in three dimensions - somatic, mental and spiritual. Spirituality is the uniquely human dimension. As because a person is a unity in complexity, these different dimensions must be understood in their totality, however

One of the prepositions of logotherapy says that the human spirit is our healthy core. However, the human spirit may be blocked by biological or psychological sickness, but it will remain intact. The human spirit does not get sick, even when the psychobiological organism is injured. A part of the human spirit is the unconscious (Frankl, 1969, 1986). When it is blocked or repressed, one experiences existential vacuum or neurosis. According to Fabry (1994), the noetic dimension or the human spirit contains love, the will to meaning, purpose, creativity, conscience, the capacity for choice, responsibility, sense of humour etc.

According to Frankl (1978), an individual can enjoy finite freedom. Our existence is influenced by instincts, inherited disposition and environment. Therefore, he is not free from conditions. But the conditions do not completely constrain him, he is free to take stand about them. Freedom of will is possible because of the human capacity for self-distancing or self-detachment. Hence, he is capable of choosing his attitude toward himself (Frankl, 1969). Again, responsibility follows freedom. As per Fabry (1994), responsibility without freedom is tyranny, and freedom without responsibility leads to anarchy, which in turn may bring forth boredom, anxiety, and neurosis.

The will to meaning is the basic striving of man to find meaning and purpose (Frankl, 1969). Because of the human capacity to transcend one's immediate circumstances, the will to meaning is possible. Self-transcendence often makes use of the power of imagination and optimism. Self-transcendence is essential for finding happiness, which is not the end, but the by-product of trying to forget oneself.

Every meaning is unique to each person, and each one has to discover the meaning of each particular situation. We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: by creating a work or doing a deed; by experiencing something or encountering someone; and by the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering (Frankl, 1984). However, suffering without meaning leads to despair.

Search for meaning is more likely to be occasioned by three negative facets of human existence: pain, guilt and death (Frankl, 1967, 1984). Pain refers to human suffering; guilt refers to the awareness of our fallibility and death refers to our awareness of the transmission of life. These negative experiences make us more aware of our needs for meaning and spiritual aspiration. Neuroses are more likely to originate from our attempt to obscure the reality of pain, guilt and death as existential facts (Frankl, 1967,1984).

Objective of the Study:

Physical education takes a crucial role in general education. However, a few numbers of studies are there to probe into the impact of physical education on various psychosocial and moral developments. Again, there is much theoretical speculation and empirical research about the effect of physical education on somatic and mental developmental; but the impact physical education on spiritual development has yet to be probed into. So, the present study is launched to ascertain the impact of physical education on the experience of purpose in life as it is in "logotherapy" of Viktor Frankl.


The present study was carried out through descriptive survey method within post-facto research design. The details regarding sample, tools, procedure of data collection and statistical technique have been reported as under.

Sample –

Twenty-six M. P. Ed. Students of Department of Physical Education, University of Kalyani (Kalyani, Nadia, W.B., India) were considered as the prospective physical education teachers in the study. All of the M. P. Ed. students were undergoing postgraduate course in physical education after completing their B. P. Ed. degree. These students are fresher (i.e. not yet teachers of any secondary / higher secondary school) as well as residential scholars.

Sixty-seven B. Ed. Students of Shimurali Sachinandan College of Education (a college affiliated to the University of Kalyani) were taken as the prospective general education teacher. Alt of the B. Ed. students were fresher (i.e. not yet teachers of any secondary / higher secondary school) and they had postgraduate degree along with graduate degree with honours. These students are day-scholars also.

Tools -

To measure the meaning in life, experienced by the prospective teachers, the Purpose in Life Test (PIL) of Crumbaugh and Maholick (1968) was selected. The reason for selection of this test was that it is specifically designed to measure Viktor Frankl's concept of existential vacuum and noogenic neurosis and this test has also been widely used to measure the concept of meaning in life in India and abroad (Doerris, 1970; Mohanty, 1990; Lalitha et al, 2005).

The PIL scale consists of three parts.

Part-A has 20 scaled Likert type sentences stems each with 7 response alternatives ranging from 1 (low purpose) to 7 (high purpose). Descriptive terms are used as anchors for the extreme points 1 and 7, and
position No. 4 is considered as neutral. There are 11 non-reversed and 9 reversed keyed items.

a. Part-B has 13 sentence completion items and,

b. Part-C requires writing of a paragraph on personal aims, ambitions and goals.

c. Part-A is the only one, which is treated quantitatively and has been used in most of the research endeavours in this field to date. Part-B and Part-C are not scored and little consideration is put to those in both the manual of the test and published research. In the present study also only the part-A of the test was used.

Procedure –

"Purpose in Life Scale" was administered on the subjects in two different sessions - one for B. Ed. Students and the other for M. P. Ed. Students, and the responses were scored as per scoring procedure, prescribed in the manual.

Statistical Analysis -

Independent samples "T" - test of two groups (B. Ed. & M. P. Ed. students) was done with the help of SPSS software.


Result of the present investigation is furnished in the following tables.

Table - 1: Showing Mean and Std. Deviation of M. P. Ed. and B. Ed. Students




Std Deviation

M. P. Ed.




B. Ed.





Table - 2: Showing Independent Samples Test




Sig. (2-tailed)

Equal variances assumed




Equal variances not assumed




Again, from Table - 2 we can observe that mean PIL score of the M. P. Ed. Students is significantly (statistically) higher than that of the B. Ed. students.

In general, prospective physical-education-teachers have more life satisfaction than the prospective general-education-teachers.

Discussion and Conclusion:

The scores obtained by a group or an individual in a psychological measurement become meaningful only with reference to norms of the tool, if available. The PIL score obtained in the present study therefore can also be better interpreted in comparison with the results obtained in other studies with the PIL test. A comparison of mean PIL scores, obtained from different studies is presented in the following table:

Table - 3: Showing the mean PIL scores in different studies


Nature of Sample

Mean PIL Score

Studies Abroad

Crumbaugh and Maholick (1964)

Non patients



Crumbaugh and Maholick (1969)

Normal group



Doerris (1970)

Low participating Students




High participating Students



Crandal and Rasmussen (1975)

Not known



Ruffin (1982) reported in Lalitha et al (2005)

Not known


Indian Studies

Mehta (1982) reported in Lalitha et al, (2005)

Non handicapped youth



Misra (1986) reported in Lalitha et al, (2005)

Teachers of Kolkata



Mohanty (1990)

Teacher educators of Orissa



Lalitha et al, (2005)

Teacher Trainees of A. P. Prospective physical-education-



Present Study

Prospective general-education-teachers of W.B.


Table - 1 transpires that the mean PIL score of the M. P. Ed. Students is 103.73 whereas the mean PIL score of the B. Ed. students is 92.67

From the review of result presented in table -3, however, the prospective teachers of the present study are almost equal in their level of meaning in life with teachers of Kolkata (Misra, 1986 reported in Lalitha et al, (2005)), Teacher educators of Orissa (Mohanty, 1990) and Teacher Trainees (Prospective Teachers) of Andhra Pradesh (Lalitha et al, 2005). The mean PL score is rather low in all cases.

Existential vacuum or loss of meaning in life is usually reflected through the low PIL score. The relationship between meaninglessness or scores on the lower end of the continuum of the purpose in life test and unsuccessful living has been validated in studies that have shown strong relationship between low purpose/meaning in life scores and deviant behaviour such as psychiatric disorder, delinquency, drug addiction and alcoholism. Psychiatric patients tend to score significantly lower on the meaning in life than non-patient population (Crumbaugh and Maholick, 1964,1969; Yamell, 1971).

Frankl's existential vacuum is associated with the loss traditional values and familial relationships in modem western society. Indians because of their strong traditional values and familial support until late-adulthood are expected to experience less degree of existential anxiety and scores higher in PIL when compared to their western counterparts. In this connection, Mohanty (1990) feels that the low PIL scores of the Indian individuals are surprising and should be a cause of serious concern.

The unhappiness in the present millennium is a syndrome of existential vacuum, characterised by boredom, emptiness, lack of direction, and ignorance regarding what to do with one's life. Paucity of close kith and kin in modern society, mainly in urban areas, absence of shared vision for a better future life, focus mainly on the lustrous material aspects of life and the neglect of the spiritual aspects are some of the factors associated with loss of meaning in life in youths. Now a day, due to the effect of modernization, globalization, urbanization and revolution in modern information technology this scenario has become a global picture. This may be the cause of sharp decline in mean PIL scores through out the world form 1964 to till now (as per available data shown in table - 3). Among the youth, those who have come to the preparatory course for prospective teacher may be considered as the ones who are catching the last straw of opportunity in modern times. Hence, their low meaning in life, expressed by their PIL scores, is not surprising. It will be enlightening if we know whether the Indian youths preparing for other professions and jobs are also on the same level.

In spite of low, mean PIL scores the prospective physical education teachers have significantly (statistically) higher mean score than their general education counterparts.

As they are hostel dwellers, physical education students (i.e. the prospective physical education teachers of our country) lead a strict routine in life in course of taking their training. Above all, they have to perform different physical activities along with physical education training. Therefore, they enjoy freedom with much responsibility. These circumstances may provide many dues in quest of purpose in life and consequently, may bring forth life satisfaction. Life satisfaction is closely related to the quality of life (Muthny et al., 1990; Fountoulakis et al, 1997). Health and physical fitness are found to be two of the factors having a greater impact on life satisfaction (Beck. 1982; Garnet, 1982). The older person who have active lifestyles and participate in kinetic and non-demanding physical activities have shown higher level of mood state and life satisfaction, improvement in their mental and physical condition, and in general they seem to enjoy longer periods of independence and happier lives (Streib, G. & Schneider, 1971; Mahon & Searle, 1994). Recreational activities positively influence the psychological well-being and increase life satisfaction as well (Morris, 1996).

On the other hand, B. Ed. students (i.e. our prospective teacher of general education) are day-scholars and enjoy much freedom and less responsibility. They read and write, and usually, do not perform much physical activity on a regular routine so, their cognitive development may take higher pace; but life satisfaction lags. Physical education may put fuel to not only but mental as well as spiritual development too. To be ascertained enough about the impact of physical education on psychological wellbeing much rigorous probing should be launched with exhaustive number of variables.


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