September 11, 2006

Spiritual but not Religious

J Pers. 2006 Oct;74(5):1257-92

Spiritual but not religious? Evidence for two independent dispositions

Saucier G, Skrzypińska K

Some psychologists treat religious/spiritual beliefs as a unitary aspect of individual differences. But a distinction between mysticism and orthodox religion has been recognized by scholars as well as laypersons, and empirical studies of "ism" variables and of "spirituality" measures have yielded factors reflecting this distinction. Using a large sample of American adults, analyses demonstrate that subjective spirituality and tradition-oriented religiousness are empirically highly independent and have distinctly different correlates in the personality domain, suggesting that individuals with different dispositions tend toward different styles of religious/spiritual beliefs. These dimensions have low correlations with the lexical Big Five but high correlations with scales (e.g., Absorption, Traditionalism) on some omnibus personality inventories, indicating their relevance for studies of personality.


1 comment:

Miklos Hollender said...

People self-identifying as spiritual but not religious typically have at least a cursory interest in Buddhism, and my personal experience with people who are more or less Buddhist shows a very interesting international divergence:

In Eastern Europe, the typical young student Buddhist is slightly drawn towards Christians and with that conservatives - despite keeping a distance and not identifying with them - because even when can disagreeing in a lot of things they respect in each other that both seem to have a more meaningful (spiritual) life than the stereotypical modern atheist materialist person who is just interested in money and consumption and generally only physical and bodily things.

However I have found that in America Buddhists are often the most ardent Democrat voters, dedicated liberals and having a strong social justice agenda: despite Buddhism teaching that you cannot "fix" the samsara, they seem to be really trying to preach world peace and that sort of left-leaning stuff.

Looking deeper into it I have found that at some subconscious level in the USA people often link shallow, economically materialist, consumerist lifestyles not with atheism but with Christianity! How this could even happened beats me. I have heard that American churches do not reject modernity and have TV screens and such technologically modern things, but it is still weird. Is it really possible that in America an atheist would be more interested than a Christian in culturally conservative things like classical music or classical literature?

Anyway, I don't understand this. But it seems in the USA the spiritual-not-religious journey begins as an anti-consumerist journey and everything else comes from that...