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Some More on Spirituality, Religiosity, and Health

Some More on Spirituality, Religiosity, and Health October 17, 2021

 

Stepford Wives?
Is the seeming happiness of these women an example of “false consciousness”? Self-deception? A façade? A phony pretense?  (LDS Media Library image)

 

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I continue to go through the articles that Dr. Lynn Johnson has kindly called to my attention over the past several weeks.  Here are some additional items, which, like those mentioned in my previous blog entry on this subject, plainly appear to have come from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File©.  The references aren’t quite ideal yet, but those who are interested should have no problem in finding these articles:

 

Abstract  Researchers have identified health implications of religiosity and spirituality but have rarely addressed differences between these dimensions. The associations of religiosity and spirituality with physical and mental health were examined in a national sample (= 890) after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (9/11). Health information was collected before 9/11 and health, religiosity, and spirituality were assessed longitudinally during six waves of data collection over the next 3 years. Religiosity (i.e., participation in religious social structures) predicted higher positive affect ([beta] = .12), fewer cognitive intrusions ([beta] = –.07), and lower odds of new onset mental (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = .88) and musculoskeletal (IRR = .94) ailments. Spirituality (i.e., subjective commitment to spiritual or religious beliefs) predicted higher positive affect ([beta] = .09), lower odds of new onset infectious ailments (IRR = 0.83), more intrusions ([beta] = .10)and a more rapid decline in intrusions over time ([beta].10). Religiosity and spirituality independently predict health after a collective trauma, controlling for pre-event health status; they are not interchangeable indices of religion.

 

The present study sets out to examine the spirituality-coping-health link in a culturally and religiously diverse undergraduate sample (N
 = 301) in Canada. Specically, this investigation: (a) assessed intrinsic spirituality with a factorially derived measure, created based on a multidimensional measure of spirituality; (b) tested the mediating role of coping in the spirituality-psychological well-being relation with a validated cross-cultural measure of coping; and (c) examined this complex, multivariate web of relationships with a pathanalysis. The results showed that Intrinsic Spirituality reduced Psychological Distress, promoted the use of Collective Coping, and reduced the use of Avoidance Coping.Furthermore, Engagement Coping reduced Psychological Distress while Avoidance Coping increased the distress. The findings suggest that one way in which spiritual faith and belief can act to improve individuals psychological well-being is through promoting adaptive and culturally congruent/appropriate coping behaviours in the face of stressful situations. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

C. Nathan DeWall, Richard S. Pond Jr., Evan C. Carter, Michael E. McCullough, Nathaniel M. Lambert, Frank D. Fincham, and John B. Nezlek.     “Explaining the Relationship Between Religiousness and Substance Use: Self-Control Matters.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 107/2  (2014): 339–351.

Religiousness is reliably associated with lower substance use, but little research has examined whether self-control helps explain why religiousness predicts lower substance use. Building on prior theoretical work, our studies suggest that self-control mediates the relationship between religiousness and a variety of substance-use behaviors. Study 1 showed that daily prayer predicted lower alcohol use on subsequent days. In Study 2, religiousness related to lower alcohol use, which was mediated by self-control. Study 3 replicated this mediational pattern using a behavioral measure of self-control. Using a longitudinal design, Study 4 revealed that self-control mediated the relationship between religiousness and lower alcohol use 6 weeks later. Study 5 replicated this mediational pattern again and showed that it remained significant after controlling for trait mindfulness. Studies 6 and 7 replicated and extended these effects to both alcohol and various forms of drug use among community and cross-cultural adult samples. These findings offer novel evidence regarding the role of self-control in explaining why religiousness is associated with lower substance use.

 

Samuel Stroope, Scott Draper, and Andrew L. Whitehead.  “Images of a Loving God and Sense of  Meaning in Life.”  Social Indicators Research 111/1 (2013).

Although prior studies have documented a positive association between religiosity and sense of meaning in life, the role of specific religious beliefs is currently unclear. Past research on images of God suggests that loving images of God will positively correlate with a sense of meaning and purpose. Mechanisms for this hypothesized relationship are drawn from prior work on attachment theory, religious coping, and symbolic interaction. We suggest that these mechanisms are complementary and that secure attachment styles, reliable coping strategies, and positive self-images work in tandem to facilitate a sense of meaning and purpose. Using a random, national sample from the second wave of the Baylor Religion Survey, we perform multivariate regression analysis that controls for key religious and demographic effects. In our full model, results indicate that the dependent variable is positively associated with student status, religious non-affiliation, congregational friendship networks, and frequency of prayer. Most important from the perspective of the present study, the connection between loving images of God and a sense of meaning and purpose is consistent and robust.

 

The present research tested a mediation model specifying that divine struggle (e.g., anger at God, feeling punished or abandoned by God) mediates the associations of beliefs about suffering with psychological distress and mental health. We tested this model using structural equation modeling in 2 large samples, an undergraduate sample (N = 3,083) and a web-based sample of U.S. adults (N =  1,047). In both samples, beliefs that suffering is part of God’s benevolent plan, as well as beliefs that a nonbenevolent God causes suffering, were associated with more divine struggle and in turn with lower levels of well-being and higher distress. Beliefs attributing a benevolent role to God in suffering were directly linked to higher well-being, along with beliefs about God’s limited knowledge of the future and ability to prevent suffering. These results attest to the nuanced nature of the associations between religious belief systems, adversity, and life outcomes.
Although a long tradition of theoretical and sociohistorical analysis has suggested that religious practices and values help African Americans in coping with the distressing sequelae of racism and discrimination, few studies have examined this issue with systematic, quantitative, empirical data. Our work contributes to the literature by: (a) outlining a series of arguments regarding the potential significance of multiple aspects of religious involvement— attendance at services, church-based social support, and religious guidance in daily life—in dealing with harmful psychosocial effects of recent experiences of discrimination; and (b) testing hypotheses derived from two alternative models of the racism-religion-distress relationship using longitudinal data from a nationwide survey. Results indicate that both religious guidance and religious attendance moderate the effects of racism on psychological distress, while congregational support has a direct (but not interactive) effect on distress, thereby partly offsetting (but not buffering) the negative effects of discrimination.

 

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