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Psychology of Religion and Spirituality - Vol 9, Iss 1

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Psychology of Religion and Spirituality Official Journal of APA Division 36 (Psychology of Religion). Psychology of Religion and Spirituality publishes peer-reviewed, original articles related to the psychological aspects of religion and spirituality. The journal also publishes articles employing experimental and correlational methods, qualitative analyses, and critical reviews of the literature.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • The implications of workplace spirituality for person–environment fit theory.
    Person–environment (PE) fit theory is based on the premise that people flourish in work settings that are compatible with their skills, interests, values, and other characteristics. While the premise of PE fit theory appears to be straightforward, it is actually a complex and evolving framework with much left to be understood about what exactly “fit” encompasses and how it relates to human behavior and organizational outcomes. In contrast to the vast literature on PE fit theory, which dates back more than 100 years, workplace spirituality is a more nascent research domain that has gained traction primarily within the last decade. Research on workplace spirituality has been informed not only by traditional organizational behavior (OB) theories, but also has developed in a similar fashion with the positive organizational scholarship (POS) movement in that both seek to more fully examine the humanistic nature of individuals at work, such as whether employees experience their work as fulfilling a higher “calling” for meaning and purpose. The current article seeks to integrate these 2 research domains with the following 3 goals: (a) illustrate similarities between 3 workplace spirituality dimensions and 3 PE fit dimensions, (b) highlight the unique contribution that workplace spirituality can add to traditional PE fit theory, and (c) outline a future agenda for research which integrates workplace spirituality and PE fit theory to further our understanding of the human experience of work as it relates to important individual, group, and organizational outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Positive and negative religious/spiritual coping and combat exposure as predictors of posttraumatic stress and perceived growth in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
    We examined religious/spiritual (RS) coping from the Survey of Experiences of Returning Veterans (SERV) Study, 630 participants who reported on their demographics, combat exposure, use of positive and negative RS coping, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and perceived posttraumatic growth (PPTG). PTSD symptoms and PPTG were inversely correlated. As hypothesized, negative RS coping was inversely associated with PPTG and positively with PTSD, while positive RS coping was related only to PPTG. Although we expected that RS coping would buffer relations between combat exposure and both PTSD and PPTG, we found only one moderator effect and it was opposite our hypothesized direction: those with high combat exposure and high positive RS coping had the highest PTSD symptomatology. These results suggest, among veterans with combat exposure, negative RS coping is associated with higher PTSD symptomatology, while positive RS coping is generally associated with higher PPTG as well as higher PTSD for those with high combat exposure. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Multicultural and idiosyncratic considerations for measuring the relationship between religious and secular forms of spirituality with positive global mental health.
    The current study espouses an alternative methodology using an ideologically diverse sample of 4,667 respondents who reported their spirituality levels (i.e., the extent one lives in accordance with one’s self-defined spiritual values) and their mental health levels. The sample predominately included agnostic, atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and spiritual nonreligious participants. Multigroup analyses within structural equation models revealed that spirituality held a large relationship strength with mental health for both religious and secular forms of spirituality, even with multiple configurations determining the constituents of the secular group. An exploratory analysis demonstrated that when spirituality, demographic factors, social support, and spiritual coping usage were all examined as predictors of mental health, religious and secular forms of spirituality were the only variables that maintained a large predictive strength. The results indicated that living in accordance with one’s spiritual values, even when defined in a variety of ways, is characteristic of greater mental health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • A model of enlightened/mystical/awakened experience.
    Awakening experiences are powerful and transcendent experiences that profoundly affect the individual. There appears to be an essential core experience of oneness. It is experienced as a completely subjective phenomenon where awareness contains reality and the notions of an external reality and a separate self are perceived as delusions. A model is presented of awakening experiences that postulates 3 layers of processing, sensory, perceptual, and cognitive, that separate external energy from awareness. The model hypothesizes that awakening experiences results from the progressive removal of the cognitive, perceptual, and sensory layers of information processing. This to some extent returns awareness to a primal state that was present before the development of neural information processing. The model simplifies, summarizes, and explains awakening experiences and is consistent with neural system activity observed during contemplative practice, transcendent states, and hallucinatory drug use and with the effects of changes in the neural systems on experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Spiritual dryness in Catholic priests: Internal resources as possible buffers.
    Spiritual dryness is a form of spiritual crisis that can be experienced by religious persons. In a cross-sectional survey among 3,824 Catholic priests, we aimed to analyze the prevalence of spiritual dryness, and its respective predictors. Feelings of spiritual dryness were experienced occasionally by 46%, often or regularly by 12%. Best predictors of spiritual dryness were the (lack of) perception of the transcendent, (low) sense of coherence, depressive symptoms and emotional exhaustion. These variables explain 46% of variance. Loneliness, anxiety, and the personal accomplishment component of burnout added only 1.3% additional variance explanation. Priests’ living situation, social support, lack of social network, self-efficacy expectation, the depersonalization component of burnout, stress perception, and neuroticism were not among the significant predictors in this model. Particularly, the lacking perception of the transcendent and low sense of coherence are of relevance because they are internal resources for which suitable support might be offered. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Dimensions of grace: Factor analysis of three grace scales.
    Measuring grace is challenging. Prior research found the Grace Scale (GS), Richmont Grace Scale (RGS), and The Amazing Grace Scale (TAGS) to be reliable, have promising convergent and divergent validity, and to intercorrelate strongly. However, they may tap different constructs, or grace may be multidimensional (Bufford, Blackburn, Sisemore, & Bassett, 2015). Here 2 exploratory factor analyses showed 5 factors: experiencing God’s grace, costly grace, grace to self, grace from others, and grace to others. Items from all 3 scales loaded on Factor 1, items from the RGS on Factor 2. The remaining factors were mostly GS items. Preliminary validity for the 5 factors is promising. Regressions showed that combinations of the other 4 proposed scales accounted for at most about on third of the variance on any given grace factor. The 5 factors showed different patterns of relationships to criterion variables. We propose a 36-item Dimensions of Grace Scale. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Spirituality and the temporal dynamics of transcendental positive emotions.
    This study examined the relationships between individual differences in spirituality, as measured by the Daily Spiritual Experience (DSE) scale, and the temporal dynamics of transcendental positive emotions. Using event-sampling, in which 390 participants rated their emotions repeatedly at 30-min intervals over 2 days, it was found that higher DSE was associated with higher variability and instability in transcendental positive emotions at 30-min intervals. Also, higher DSE was associated with higher inertia in transcendental positive emotions and greater switch from negative emotions to transcendental positive emotions across the 2 days. Importantly, these relationships were independent of the Five-Factor Model personality constructs, were generally not replicated in other emotions, and were also independent of the temporal dynamics of other emotions. The article discusses, among other issues, what these findings might mean for the well-being implications of spirituality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • “Sometimes I don’t even know where I am going”: What supports individualized personal spiritual change?
    Unlike processes of spiritual change within or between-faith, individualized processes of spiritual change cannot rely on the support provided by institutional religions through religious rituals, agents and coherent belief system (e.g., Pargament & Mahoney, 2009; Rambo, 1993). To understand how individuals manage such a potentially arduous change process, the present study explored the facilitating processes of deep personal spiritual change outside of institutional religion, using a qualitative-phenomenological perspective. In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 Israeli adults (13 men and 14 women between the ages of 25 and 66), who were undergoing such change. The analysis of the interviews uncovered 2 main kinds of supporting resources: internal-personal (i.e., deliberate choice, courage, and intentional attention and awareness) and external-environmental (i.e., the availability of spiritual contexts and experiences, spiritual groups and like-minded peers, spiritual teachers, and a sense of connection to a higher power or the transcendent). The findings underscore the pervasiveness of supporting mechanisms that individuals undergoing self-led spiritual change use. These reflect 3 central orientations, internal, horizontal, and vertical, that together maintain these change processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • One God but three concepts: Complexity in Christians’ representations of God.
    Research exploring God representations has tended to assume that these constructs are unitary in nature. However, a considerable research literature has illustrated ways in which people’s representations of self and others are complex. Given that Christians believe in 1 God but also the 3 distinct members of the Trinity, the present research used this theological construct to test whether religious believers can have structurally complex God representations, examining within-subject differences in Christian participants’ understandings of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Study 1 compared descriptions of the Trinity using adjective checklists, self/other overlap, and target-directed emotions; Study 2 compared personality judgments of the Trinity; and Study 3 investigated the relative salience of each way of thinking about God using a reaction time (RT) paradigm. Results demonstrated that, consistent with believers having cognitively complex God representations, participants had differentiated ways of thinking about and relating to each member of the Trinity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Pathways from religion to health: Mediation by psychosocial and lifestyle mechanisms.
    Religiosity, often measured as attendance at religious services, is linked to better physical health and longevity though the mechanisms linking the two are debated. Potential explanations include a healthier lifestyle, increased social support from congregational members, and/or more positive emotions. Thus far, these mechanisms have not been tested simultaneously in a single model though they likely operate synergistically. We test this model predicting all-cause mortality in Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs), a denomination that explicitly promotes a healthy lifestyle. This allows the more explicit health behaviors linked to the religious doctrine (e.g., healthy diet) to be compared with other mechanisms not specific to religious doctrine (e.g., social support and positive emotions). Finally, this study examines both church activity (including worship attendance and church responsibilities) and religious engagement (coping, importance, and intrinsic beliefs). Religious engagement is more inner-process focused (vs. activity-based) and less likely to be confounded with age and its associated functional status limitations, although it should be noted that age is controlled in the present study. The findings suggest that religious engagement and church activity operate through the mediators of health behavior, emotion, and social support to decrease mortality risk. All links between religious engagement and mortality are positive but indirect through positive religious support, emotionality, and lifestyle mediators. However, church activity has a direct positive effect on mortality as well as indirect effects through religious support, emotionality, and lifestyle mediators (diet and exercise). The models were invariant by gender and for both Blacks and Whites. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Assessing the unique role of religious coping in suicidal behavior among U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
    In this study we examined relations of positive and negative religious coping with risk for suicidal behavior in a sample of Iraq and/or Afghanistan Veterans. Participants completed self-report instruments assessing risk for suicidal behavior, religious coping, general combat exposure, morally injurious experiences, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Frequency analyses revealed that half of all participants endorsed being religious, and adaptively drawing on religion to cope was more common than maladaptive coping. However, positive religious coping was not associated with suicidal behavior at the time of the study. In contrast, negative religious coping was uniquely associated with the risk for suicide when we controlled for demographic risk factors, war-zone experiences, depression, and PTSD. Although we expect adaptive reliance on religion to be beneficial for mental health, veterans who experience internal and/or external conflicts in the spiritual domain may be at increased risk for engaging in suicidal behavior following their war-zone service. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The purity/sanctity subscale of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire does not work similarly for religious versus non-religious individuals.
    Moral foundations theory (Graham & Haidt, 2010) has been the dominant theory of morality within social psychology for the last decade, and the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ; Graham, Nosek, Haidt, Iyer, Koleva, & Ditto, 2011) is currently the only multi-item measure to study moral foundations theory. Although previous studies have suggested that the MFQ subscales are associated with religiosity, basic research has not yet established whether the measure is understood in the same way by believing and nonbelieving individuals. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to examine whether the MFQ (and specifically the purity/sanctity subscale) is understood in the same way by these 2 groups. We predicted that the purity/sanctity subscale would not demonstrate strong (i.e., scalar) invariance. Across 2 samples, we found support for configural and metric invariance and problems with scalar invariance. These results suggest that between-groups differences observed in previous studies may be due to measurement artifacts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Does spirituality confer meaning in life among heart failure patients and cancer survivors?
    The provision of a sense of meaning in life, especially during adverse life circumstances, is widely considered to be a central function of spirituality. However, limited empirical evidence exists for this notion. The present study used cross-lagged panel analyses, in samples of 140 congestive heart failure patients and 161 cancer survivors, to examine whether spirituality can provide meaning in the context of serious illness. Survey data were collected at baseline and 6 (heart failure patients) or 12 months (cancer survivors) later. In both studies, cross-lagged paths showed that higher baseline spirituality predicted more positive change in meaning over time. These results support the widely held notion that spirituality can provide increased meaning in life among individuals dealing with substantial adversity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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