Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Al Pascale


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the Will to Live concept as it applies to the elderly. This was accomplished by exploring the relationship among the variables of Purpose in Life; Locus of Control; Depression; and a self-rating Will to Live scale. These are variables which, according to the literature, could be expected to be major components of the Will to Live concept. The subjects for this study were 63 volunteers, ranging in age from 60 to 95, taken from different housing settings, nursing homes; apartments for the elderly; and private homes in the community. In order to study the Will to Live concept, four instruments were administered individually to the subjects: Crumbaugh's Purpose in Life Inventory; Beck's Depression Inventory; an adaptation of James’ Locus of Control scale; and a self-rating Will to Live measure.

The results yielded four components, using a principle components analysis of the 53 items from the four measures. The components were a "mood state"; "locus of control"; "a level beyond"; and "energy level". Differences were found in the expected direction across the three housing groups on two of the measures and on one of the component scales. As hypothesized, a strong negative relationship was found to exist between Purpose in Life and Depression.

The results were discussed in terms of their theoretical and clinical implications.



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