ArticlePDF Available

Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence: Toward a Field of Inquiry

  • Search Institute


Sustained attention to spiritual development during childhood and adolescence in the social and developmental sciences has the potential to significantly enrich and strengthen the understanding of the core processes and dimensions of human development. This article seeks to set the stage for such an inquiry by exploring 6 themes for building a multifaceted agenda. It argues that spiritual development is (a) understudied; (b) a complex, multifaceted concept; (c) grounded in a human propensity; (d) overlaps with and includes many aspects of religious development; (e) a developmental process that is shaped by both individual capacities and ecological influences; and (f) a potentially powerful resource for positive human development.
Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence:
Toward a Field of Inquiry
Peter L. Benson, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, and Stacey P. Rude
Search Institute
Sustained attention to spiritual development during childhood and adolescence in the
social and developmental sciences has the potential to significantly enrich and
strengthen the understanding of the core processes and dimensions of human devel
opment. This article seeks to set the stage for such an inquiry by exploring 6 themes
for building a multifaceted agenda. It argues that spiritual development is (a) under
studied; (b) a complex, multifaceted concept; (c) grounded in a human propensity; (d)
overlaps with and includes many aspects of religious development; (e) a developmen
tal process that is shaped by both individual capacities and ecological influences; and
(f) a potentially powerful resource for positive human development.
Long after Harvard psychiatrist Robert Coles had
established himself as a preeminent scholar in child de
velopment, Anna Freud remarked to him, “It would be
of interest if you went over your earlier work and
looked for what you might have missed back then” (as
cited in Coles, 1990, p. xiii). In reflecting on that com-
ment, Coles remembered “certain long-ago moments
with children: a remark, a picture drawn, a daytime
reverie shared, a dream or nightmare report—all of
them in some fashion having a religious or spiritual
theme” (p. xiii). That realization led Coles to undertake
a series of studies that, in his words, “helped me see
children as seekers, as young pilgrims well aware that
life is a finite journey” (p. xvi).
Coles’s (1990) reassessment of his own research
and the inquiries that followed illustrated important
questions for the social sciences: Is spiritual develop
ment an integral, unique element of the human expe
rience that has been overlooked or ignored, particu
larly in childhood and adolescence? If so, have the
developmental sciences been handicapped by not
having a well-conceived, -defined, and -documented
domain of spiritual development within which to
more fully interpret and understand an important do
main of human development?
This article does not seek to answer these questions
definitively. Rather, it proposes that sustained, rigorous
attention to spiritual development during childhood
and adolescence in the social and developmental sci
ences has the potential to significantly enrich and
strengthen the understanding of the core processes and
dimensions of human development. For this to occur,
significant effort is needed to define and measure this
often-illusive domain and to investigate its substance
and function from many perspectives and disciplines.
This article seeks to set the stage for such an inquiry by
offering a preliminary, working definition of spiritual
development, then exploring key themes and issues in
spiritual development that have potential for building
toward a multifaceted agenda of theory and research.
The Definitional Challenge
A fundamental challenge in making the case for
spiritual development as a core human development
process is definitional. What is it? How is it experi
enced? Is it really a unique domain of human develop
ment, or is it subsumed in others?
Given the formative state of the field, it would be
premature to propose that a single, succinct definition
could adequately capture the richness, complexity,
and multidimensional nature of this concept—just as
it would be overly simplistic to propose a single sim
ple definition of other complex areas of development,
such as cognitive development, social development,
or moral development. However, to promote further
dialogue and investigation, we propose the following
working definition, which points toward important
themes for further investigation:
Spiritual development is the process of growing
the intrinsic human capacity for self-transcen
dence, in which the self is embedded in some
thing greater than the self, including the sacred.
It is the developmental “engine” that propels
the search for connectedness, meaning, pur
Applied Developmental Science
2003, Vol. 7, No. 3, 205–213
Copyright © 2003 by
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
We wish to thank the Thrive Foundation for Youth for its gener
ous support in the development of this article.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Eugene C.
Roehlkepartain, Search Institute, 615 First Avenue Northeast, Suite
125, Minneapolis, MN 55413. E-mail:
pose, and contribution. It is shaped both within
and outside of religious traditions, beliefs, and
Emerging from this working definition are six
themes that merit additional exploration, which pro
vide the framework for the remainder of this article.
A Poorly Understood Human Capacity
Part of the tentativeness in proposing this definition
is that this area of inquiry is still in a formative stage of
development. How spiritual development unfolds may
be as important to personal and social well-being as are
the physical, cognitive, and emotional dimensions of
development. Yet spiritual development may well be
the least understood of human capacities. Fortunately,
there appears to be an emerging interest in the topic
across multiple disciplines.
Through the years, many scholars have docu
mented the relative lack of attention to issues of reli
gion and spirituality in the social sciences in general
(Gorsuch, 1988; Paloutzian, 1996; Weaver et al.,
1998) and, more specifically, in the study of adoles-
cence (Benson, Donahue, & Erickson, 1989; Bridges
& Moore, 2002; Donelson, 1999; Kerestes &
Youniss, 2003; Markstrom, 1999; Wallace & Forman,
1998) and childhood (Hay, Nye, & Murphy, 1996;
Nye, 1999). Although pioneers in psychology such as
William James, G. Stanley Hall, J. H. Leuba, and
Edwin Starbuck considered religiousness and spiritu
ality to be integral to the field of psychology, the
study was marginalized through much of the 20th
century. The scientific study of religion began
reemerging in the 1960s and, by the new millennium,
Hill et al. (2000) concluded that “the state of the dis
cipline today can be characterized as sufficiently de
veloped but still overlooked, if not bypassed, by the
whole of psychology” (p. 51).
Researchers in adolescent development may have
made more progress recently in addressing religious
(not spiritual) variables than other areas of psycho
logical inquiry. A review of quantitative studies pub
lished between 1992 and 1996 in five major adoles
cent research journals found that 11.8% of the articles
included a measure of religion—a percentage 3 to 10
times higher than found in broader journal searches
(Weaver et al., 2000).
Although religion may be addressed more often in
adolescent research, the same cannot be said for spiritu
ality. In July 2002, we searched two broad social science
databases, Social Science Abstracts and PsycINFO, to
determine the extent to which religion and spirituality
were being addressed in published studies between
1990 andJuly2002.Inaddition,a more refined search of
six premier journals on child and adolescent develop-
ment was conducted.
Even with broad criteria (and no effort to screen
for quality or depth of analysis), less than 1% of the
Table 1. Spiritual Development Citations in Social Science Databases, 1990–2002
Social Science
Abstracts PsycINFO
Six Selected
Articles with key
related to…
children or
38,894 139,294 3,123
children or
adolescents and
spiritual or
religion or church
415 1,745 27
spirituality and
children or
143 852 1
children or
adolescents that
address religion
and/or spirituality
1.1% 1.3% 0.9%
Percentage of articles
on children and
adolescents that
address spirituality
(without reference
to religion or
0.4 0.6 < 0.1
Child Development, Developmental Psychology, International Journal of Behavioral Development, Journal of
Adolescent Research, Journal of Early Adolescence, and Journal of Research on Adolescence.
Searches in
cluded derivative terms based on the criteria used in each database.
articles cataloged in the two databases addressed is
sues of spirituality or spiritual development among
children and adolescents (see Table 1). Even a
broader search that included more traditional terms
related to religiosity increases only marginally the at
tention given to these topics. Furthermore, when the
search was limited to six leading developmental jour
nals, the attention to spiritual development drops still
further; only one article was identified that addressed
spirituality in childhood or adolescence.
For comparison purposes, we also analyzed how
many articles addressed other domains of human de
velopment (cognitive, psychosocial, moral, emotional,
and behavioral) during the same time frame (see Table
2). Without limiting the search to articles with children
or adolescence as a key word, this search confirms that
spiritual development is examined much less often
than other forms of development. Further, only one in
five of the articles on spiritual development specifi
cally addressed children or adolescents. It is notewor
thy, too, that no articles on spiritual development ap
peared in the six leading journals across these 12 years.
Other scholars have analyzed the various reasons for
the paucity of attention to religion and spirituality in the
social sciences. They have pointed to a lack of religious
belief among academicians and scientists (E. J. Larson
& Witham, 1998); the absence of training in and expo-
sure to the area among psychologists (Weaver et al.,
1998); the difficulty of adequately defining and measur-
ing the domain (Zinnbauer et al., 1997); the historical
belief among some influential psychologists that reli-
gious commitment is pathological (Ellis, 1980); and the
fact that the area is “politically sensitive and philosophi-
cally difficult” (McCrae, 1999, p. 1211).
When religion and spirituality are viewed in terms
of Durkheim’s (1912/1995) classic definition of reli
gion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices rela
tive to sacred things which unite into one single
moral community called a Church, all those who ad
here to them” (p. 62), then its study can easily be left to
those with more parochial interests. It is something of
an interesting phenomenon itself that mainstream psy
chology has encouraged generations of social
scientists to see organized religion as a thing apart
rather than as an integral expression of human capacity
and need. However, doing so is like equating cognitive
development with schooling.
Although spiritual development does not yet show
up as a consistent topic in the social sciences, there is
growing interest in the area among policymakers, prac
titioners, and researchers. Nowhere is the scientific and
clinical interest in spirituality more evident than in the
field of health and health care. Mills (2002) docu
mented a dramatic increase in medical journal articles
that address religion or spirituality and health. Al
though the word spirituality did not even appear in the
MedLine database until the 1980s, “in recent years, ev
ery major medical, psychiatric, and behavioral medi
cine journal has published on the topic” (p. 1).
Within the social sciences, a number of efforts are
under way to increase the attention to spiritual devel
opment. For example, the Society for Research on Ad
olescence’s Study Group on Adolescence in the
Twenty-First Century concluded that one of the areas
of needed research “across all nations” is religious val-
ues and experiences (R. Larson, Brown, & Mortimer,
2002). Further, the emerging interest in “positive psy-
chology” recognizes the potential of religion and spiri-
tuality as a resource for optimal development
(Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). These, and
other efforts, suggest that the field may be ready for
sustained, rigorous attention to understanding the spir-
itual domain of child and adolescent development.
A Multidimensional Construct
Admittedly, the proposed working definition does
not fully capture the richness and diversity of the con
cept of spiritual development. One of the major chal
lenges faced in tapping this renewed interest is defini
tional. Is spiritual development so broad and
idiosyncratic that it becomes impossible to
Table 2. Comparison of References to Spiritual Development to Other Areas of Development in Social
Science Databases, 1990–2002
Key Words
Social Science
Abstracts PsycINFO
Six Selected
Cognitive development 1,043 13,445 535
Psychosocial development 611 9,627 294
Moral development 281 1,331 69
Emotional development 170 1,634 66
Behavioral development 44 436 8
Spiritual development 15 172 0
Number of articles on spiritual development that
specifically address children or adolescents
Child Development, Developmental Psychology, International Journal of Behavioral Development, Journal of Adoles
cent Research, Journal of Early Adolescence, and Journal of Research on Adolescence.
operationalize? Or, will it be viewed so narrowly that it
offers little of substance to the understanding of human
The vast majority of researchers agree that spiritual
ity has multiple domains. For example, Scott (as cited in
Zinnbauer, Pargament, & Scott, 1999) analyzed the con
tent of scientific definitions of religiousness and spiritu
ality published in the last half of the 20th Century. Al
though she found no consensus or even dominant
approaches, Scott identified nine content categories in
definitionsof spirituality: experiences of connectedness
or relationship; processes leading to greater
connectedness; behavioral responses to something (ei
ther sacred or secular); systems of thought or beliefs;
traditional institutional structures; pleasurable states of
being; beliefs in the sacred, transcendent, and so forth;
and existential questions. In another study, MacDonald
(2000) analyzed 20 measures of spirituality, identifying
five “robust dimensions of spirituality” (p. 185): cogni
tive orientation; experiential–phenomenological di
mension; existential well-being; paranormal beliefs;
and religiousness.
Because of its multidimensionality, spirituality does
not fit neatly inside any particular domain of social sci-
ence. Hill et al. (2000) noted that religion and spiritual-
ity inherently involve developmental, social-psycho-
logical phenomena, cognitive phenomena, affective
and emotional phenomena, and personality. They
noted that “few phenomena may be as integral across
life span development as religious or spiritual con-
cerns” (p. 53). Further, Piedmont (1999) presented evi-
dence that spirituality may be an independent dimen-
sion of personality. Thus, a multidisciplinary approach
is essential to develop a comprehensive understanding
of the domain.
Spirituality as Human Capacity
The proposed working definition of spiritual de
velopment asserts that there is an intrinsic human
capacity—an “internal press”—for spirituality, or
transcendence of self toward “something greater.
This impulse gives rise to such phenomena as seek
ing meaning and purpose, the pursuit of the sacred,
and embedding one’s identity within a tradition,
community, or stream of thought. This propensity
can be enriched or thwarted within an ecological
context of family, peers, community, and, in many
cases, a religious tradition and community.
The evidence for such an “intrinsic human capac
ity” toward spirituality emerges from several sources.
First, is the growing (but still limited) body of evidence
that suggests that spirituality or religiosity have biolog
ical or physiological roots. In an examination of varia
tions in religious affiliation, attitudes, and practices,
D’Onofrio, Eaves, Murrelle, Maes, and Spilka (1999)
found that religious attitudes and practices are moder
ately influenced by genetic factors (whereas affiliation
is primarily culturally transmitted).
Further evidence of the human propensity toward
spirituality is that, through history and in all societies,
forms of spirituality have emerged and become part
of human experience, and, despite some predictions
to the contrary, it remains a salient dimension of life
across time and across cultures. Although focused on
adults, a survey in 20 nations found that an average of
71% of respondents sometimes or often think about
the meaning of life (Campbell & Curtis, 1996), which
is a core element of our understanding of spirituality.
From a more traditional religious perspective, a Gal
lup International Association (1999) poll of 50,000
adults in 60 countries found that, on average, 63% of
respondents indicated that God is highly important in
their lives, 75% believed in either a personal God or
“some sort of spirit or life force.
Similar levels of salience are evident among adoles
cents in the United States. (More global data are not
available.) For example, Search Institute’s survey of
218,000 6th- to 12th-grade youth in public schools dur
ing the 1999–2000 school year showed high levels of
interest in religion and spirituality. For example, 69%
of 6th- to 12th-grade youth (more with some sub-
groups of youth) reported that “being religious or spiri-
tual” is at least somewhat important, and 54% say it is
quite or extremely important (unpublished data). Un-
derstanding why this dimension of life is important to
many young people and how it shapes their sense of
identity are vital issues in understanding its role in hu-
man development. Further, significant questions re-
main about the salience of spirituality in the lives of
young people in different cultures and traditions as
well as the antecedents of these commitments in the
first decade of life.
Relationship With
Religious Development
A persistent, and important definitional, mea
surement, and philosophical challenge is distin
guishing spirituality from religiosity and spiritual
development from religious development.
Zinnbauer et al. (1997) wrote:
The ways in which the words [religiousness and spiritu
ality] are conceptualized and used are often inconsis
tent in the research literature. Despite the great volume
of work that has been done, little consensus has been
reached about what the terms actually mean. (p. 549)
Is spirituality little more than a more “politically cor
rect” term for religiousness? Are spirituality and reli
giousness unique, polarized domains? Is one embedded
within the other? How are they related and distinct?
The answers to those questions depend, of course,
on how one defines both religion and spirituality. Fur
thermore, in the same way that spirituality is itself
complex and multidimensional, so is religion (Hood,
Spilka, Hunsberger, & Gorsuch, 1996). Pargament
(1997) defined religion broadly as “a search for sig
nificance in ways related to the sacred” (p. 34).
Koenig, McCullough, and Larson (2001) defined reli
gion more specifically as
an organized system of beliefs, practices, rituals, and
symbols designed (a) to facilitate closeness to the sa
cred or transcendent (God, higher power, or ultimate
truth/reality) and (b) to foster an understanding of
one’s relationship and responsibility to others in living
together in community. (p. 18)
In examining the relation between religion and spiri
tuality, Reich (1996) identified four possibilities for de
scribing the relation between religiousness and spiritu
ality: religion and spirituality as synonymous or fused;
one as a subdomain of the other; religion and spirituality
as separate domains; and religion and spirituality as dis-
tinct but overlapping domains. Full exploration of the
pros and cons of these approaches is not possible in this
context. This article adopts the final perspective, sug-
gesting significant overlapbetween religion and spiritu-
ality but also recognizing that there are dimensions of
both religious development and spiritual development
that fall beyond the domain of the other.
The proposed approach seeks to avoid the polar-
izations between spirituality and religion that have
begun to emerge in some scientific circles (and the
popular culture) that undermine the richness of both
concepts. Zinnbauer et al. (1999), for example, had
identified three such polarizations: (a) organized reli
gion versus personal spirituality; (b) substantive reli
gion versus functional spirituality; and (c) negative
religiousness versus positive spirituality. Zinnbauer et
al. wrote that “the polarization of religion and spiritu
ality into substantive and functional leaves us with a
static, frozen religion and a spirituality without a
core” (p. 904). They called for an approach to distin
guishing between the domains that “integrates rather
than polarizes these constructs, and one that sets
boundaries to the discipline, while acknowledging the
diverse ways people express their religiousness and
spirituality” (p. 911).
From an experiential perspective, there is consider
able evidence (largely from studies of adults) that peo
ple experience religion and spirituality as overlapping
but not synonymous domains. For example, a nation
ally representative sample of 1,422 U.S. adults who re
sponded to a special ballot on religion and spirituality
as part of the 1998 General Social Survey found high
correlation (.63) between self-perceptions of religios
ity and spirituality (Shahabi et al., 2002).
Similarly, Marler and Hadaway (2002) examined
data from several national U.S. studies (again, of
adults) that examine this question and concluded that
the relationship between “being religious” and “being
spiritual” is not a zero-sum. In fact, these data demon
strate that “being religious” and “being spiritual” are
most often seen as distinct but interdependent concepts
. Indeed, the most significant finding about the rela
tionship between “being religious” and “being spiri
tual” is that most Americans see themselves as both. (p.
Given this significant overlap between these two
domains, a question remains about why focus on spiri
tual development instead of the more historical focus
on religious development. Several factors shape this
1. Spiritual development and spirituality connote
for most people a term that embraces a wider diversity
of beliefs and experiences across multiple religious tra-
ditions, cultures, and worldviews. This reality reflects
the growing interest in spirituality (see Zinnbauer et
al., 1999).
2. Reich (2001) argued that this final view has po-
tential to generate less divisiveness and more active en-
gagement in spiritual development, particularly in
countries where young people are socialized spiritu-
ally but not religiously.
3. It is likely that scientists are more open to in-
vestigations of spirituality than religiosity.
For example, MacDonald (2000) reviewed a variety of
studies of psychologists and concluded:
While psychologists appear to adopt an ambivalent
stance regarding the importance of religion (e.g.,
50–60% of psychologists surveyed refer to them
selves as agnostics or atheists), research suggests that
spirituality may be seen as personally relevant by a
higher proportion of them; 33–68% of psychologists
report that spirituality is important. (p. 155)
4. There has historically been much more attention
to issues of religious development than spiritual devel
opment. An important challenge is to invest focused en
ergy on also defining, measuring, and articulating the
domain of spiritual development to determine whether,
indeed, it is a salient and coherent area of study.
A remaining challenge in seeking to define spiritual
development and its relation to religion is philosophical
or theological. Some social scientists and theologians
insist that one cannot define or investigate spiritual de
velopment without an explicit theistic understanding of
God or at least a transcendent power. From their per
spective, any definition of spiritual development is inad
equate without explicit reference to such a transcendent
other. However, such an approach tends to be theologi
cally based and grows out of Western, Judeo-Christian
perspectives (see Stifoss-Hanssen, 1999). The approach
suggested in this article seeks to include, but not be lim
ited to, such theistic worldviews,whereas also including
other traditions and cultures.
Spiritual Development as
Developmental Process
The notion of spiritual development adds an impor
tant dimension to an exploration of spirituality. Spiritual
development introduces a focus on spiritual change,
transformation, growth,or maturation. Through most of
the 20th century, spiritual (or, more often, religious) de
velopment or change was viewed through stage theory
(e.g., Fowler, 1981) or was dominated by
nondevelopmental approaches (see Oser & Scarlett,
1991; Paloutzian, 1996; Reich, Oser, & Scarlett, 1999).
In the same way that developmental psychology has
moved beyond stage theory (e.g., Overton, 1998), spiri-
tual development must also move beyond an
overreliance on stage theory, which “implies a certain
amount of discontinuity in religious [and spiritual] de-
velopment,whereas it may actually be a reasonably con-
tinuous process” (Hood et al., 1996, p. 55).
Consistent with a developmental systems perspec-
tive (Lerner, 2002), we also posit that individuals are
active agents in shaping their own spiritual growth. As
evidence, one need only note that, even within strong,
centralized religious traditions, there are wide individ
ual differences among adherents in how they select, in
tegrate, and attend to a tradition’s messages (Benson &
Spilka, 1973). This dynamic interaction between eco
logical influences and personal agency suggests that
the individual and the culture in which he or she is em
bedded are coauthors in creating one’s life story (Reker
& Chamberlain, 2000).
Although some scholars have argued that spiritual
ity only emerges in adolescence or early adulthood
(e.g., Helminiak, 1987; Irwin, 2002), examination of
spiritual development may be particularly germane to
child and adolescent development. Issues of meaning,
purpose, vocation, relationships, and identity are par
ticularly salient during adolescence, and many ob
servers note that major identity transformations occur
during these years (see, e.g., Gorsuch, 1988;
Paloutzian, 1996). Furthermore, formative work by
Coles (1990), Nye (1999), and others raised impor
tant possibilities about the emergence of spirituality
during early childhood.
Much more exploration is needed to ascertain how
the process of spiritual development emerges in child
hood and is shaped throughout the first two decades of
life—and beyond. What factors in a young person’s en
vironment stimulate robust and healthy foundation for
spiritual development? What factors may thwart or im
pede such growth? How do diverse rituals, beliefs, and
socialization practices differentially shape develop
ment in various cultures and traditions with different
populations of children and adolescents? How do spiri
tual transformations (e.g., conversions) affect children
and adolescents? What personal, family, communal, or
cultural practices, experiences, rituals, relationships,
beliefs, or commitments contribute to—or distract
from—spiritual thriving across the first two decades of
life? These kinds of questions offer rich possibilities
for future inquiry.
A Resource for Human
Development and Well-Being
Spiritual development appears to be a potentially
powerful resource for positive human development in
the first two decades of life. However, that assertion
must be qualified with significant limitations of the
research to date. Not only do various studies grow out
of different operational definitions and measures of
spirituality and religiosity, but they have tended to
employ unidimensional measures of religiosity (not
measures of spirituality, per se). Furthermore, the pre-
ponderance of quantitative studies to date has been
cross-sectional, limiting the ability to show causal re-
lations or even a clear understanding of the nature of
the relation (Benson et al., 1989; Bridges & Moore,
2002; Thoresen & Harris, 2002). In their review of
the literature, Bridges and Moore concluded that
“there is considerable disconnect between theories of
religious development and research on child and ado
lescent religiosity and other aspects of well-being”
(p. 12). In addition, the available research in English
focuses heavily on the dynamics of religiosity in the
lives of Christian or Jewish youth in the United States
or other Western industrial countries, with little atten
tion to the impact of spirituality for young people
within other or no religious traditions, or in other
parts of the world.
If the research on spirituality in adolescence is
limited, the social science research on childhood spir
ituality is even less common. In their exploratory
study of children’s spirituality, Reimer and Furrow
(2001) sought possible connections between spiritual
ity and prosocial outcomes, but they “are especially at
pains to avoid any suggestion that relational con
sciousness is somehow ’responsible’ for prosocial be
havior outcomes” (p. 17).
With these important limitations in mind, the
emerging evidence suggests that spirituality (as ex
pressed through religiosity, given the overlapping
domains and the limitations of currently available
research) informs a wide variety of important psy
chological and social phenomena among adoles
cents, including the following:
Religiosity (most often religious involvement or im
portance) has been positively associated with positive
behaviors, attitudes, and outcomes among adolescents,
1. Overall well-being (Donahue & Benson, 1995;
Markstrom, 1999).
2. Positive life attitudes, satisfaction, and hope for
the future (Smith & Faris, 2002).
3. Altruism and service (Hodgkinson &
Weitzman, 1997; Smith & Faris, 2002; Youniss,
McLellan, & Yates, 1999).
4. Access to internal and external developmental
resources that contribute to risk reduction and
well-being and thriving (Wagener, Furrow,
King, Leffert, & Benson, in press).
5. Resiliency and coping (Benson, Masters, &
Larson, 1997).
6. School success (Regnerus, 2000).
7. Physical health (Jessor, Turbin, & Costa, 1998;
Wallace & Forman, 1998).
8. Positive identity formation (Donelson, 1999;
Youniss et al., 1999).
Religiosity and (in a few cases) spirituality have
been negatively associated with a wide range of
health-compromising behaviors, such as:
1. Alcohol and other drug use (Gorsuch, 1995;
National Center on Addiction and Substance
Abuse at Columbia University, 2001).
2. Crime, violence, and delinquency (Johnson,
Jan, Larson, & Li, 2001; Smith & Faris, 2002).
3. Depression (Wright, Frost, & Wisecarver, 1993).
4. Danger-seeking and risk-taking (Smith &
Faris, 2002).
5. Early sexual activity (Holder et al., 2000;
Whitehead, Wilcox, & Rostosky, 2001).
This brief review of extant research linking religion
and spirituality to young people’s health and develop
ment highlights promising connections, but also signif
icant questions. Much more needs to be known about
how developmental processes of spiritual development
contribute to optimal growth and well-being. Further,
much more needs to be learned about the aspects of
spiritual development (e.g., beliefs, practices, social
ization) that are most salient in predicting various out
comes, particularly beyond the Judeo-Christian tradi
tions in the United States. A wide range of approaches
and perspectives are needed to more fully understand
these connections.
Implications for Building
a Field of Inquiry
This article has argued for the recognition of a
sphere of human action that is transhistorical and
transcultural at both the individual and the societal
level and whose study belongs at the center of aca
demic inquiry. This call for strengthening the science
of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence
has several important implications:
First, spiritual development needs to become main
stream within developmental psychology and within a
lifespan approach. There are exciting and relatively un
explored questions: What are the forms of spirituality
that emerge in childhood? How might postformal and
developmental systems perspectives add richness and
variability to models of spiritual development among
children and adolescents? How do ecological contexts,
particularly family, shape development? How does the
person inform her or his own spiritual development?
Second, ongoing dialogue and examination are
needed to build on the important insights and legacy
from the rich field of psychology of religion, while
also distinguishing these emerging efforts. For this to
occur, there is a critical need to advance definitional
and measurement work that is broad-band in con-
struct and rigorous in its operationalization. Such ef-
forts should move beyond polarized understandings
toward more integrative approaches.
For this kind of multifaceted inquiry to occur, multi-
ple fields within psychology as well as the social sci-
ences more broadly will need to be linked into a more
robust and center-stage collaboration regarding the
role of spiritual development in individual behavior as
well the intersection of spiritual development with so
cial and cultural processes.
When the field of human development marginalizes
spiritual development, it does a great disservice, for it
builds theories and, by extension, practices of develop
ment on an incomplete understanding of our human
ness. Without examining these complex issues, the de
velopmental sciences add too little to vital questions of
ourtime. Spiritual development is likely a wellspring for
the best of human life (e.g., generosity, unity, sacrifice,
altruism, social justice) as well as for our darkest side
(e.g., genocide, terrorism, slavery). Using social science
to examine this potent force in society and individual
lives of young people has been neglected for too long.
Benson, P. L., Donahue, M. J., & Erickson, J. A. (1989). Adoles
cence and religion: A review of the literature from 1970 to
1986. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 1,
Benson, P. L., Masters, K. S., & Larson, D. B. (1997). Religious in
fluences on child and adolescent development. In N. E. Alessi
(Ed.), Handbook of child and adolescent psychiatry. Vol. 4: Va
rieties of development (pp. 206–219). New York: Wiley.
Benson, P. L., & Spilka, B. (1973). God image as a function of
self-esteem and locus of control. Journal for the Scientific Study
of Religion, 12, 297–310.
Bridges, L. J., & Moore, K. A. (2002). Religion and spirituality in
childhood and adolescence. Washington, DC: Child Trends.
Campbell, R. A., & Curtis, J. E. (1996). The public’s views on the fu
ture of religion and science: Cross-national survey results. Re
view of Religious Research, 37, 164–171.
Coles, R. (1990). The spiritual life of children. Boston: Houghton
Donahue, M. J., & Benson, P. L. (1995). Religion and the well-being
of adolescents. Journal of Social Issues, 51, 145–160.
Donelson, E. (1999). Psychology of religion and adolescents in the
United States: Past to present. Journal of Adolescence, 22,
D’Onofrio, B. M., Eaves, L. J., Murrelle, L., Maes, H. H., & Spilka,
B. (1999). Understanding biological and social influences on
religious affiliation, attitudes, and behaviors: A behavior ge
netic perspective. Journal of Personality, 67, 953–983.
Durkheim, E. (1995). The elementary forms of religious life (K. E.
Fields, Trans.). New York: Free Press. (Original work published
Ellis, A. (1980). Psychotherapy and atheistic values: A response to
A. E. Bergin’s “Psychotherapy and religious values. Journal of
Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48, 635–639.
Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith: The psychology of human de
velopment and the quest for meaning. San Francisco:
Gallup International Association. (1999). Gallup international mil-
lennium survey. Retrieved September 9, 2002, from
Gorsuch, R. L. (1995). Religious aspects of substance abuse and re-
covery. Journal of Social Issues, 51(2), 65–83.
Gorsuch, R. L. (1988). Psychology of religion. Annual Review of
Psychology, 39, 201–221.
Hay, D., Nye, R., & Murphy, R. (1996). Thinking about childhood
spirituality: Review of research and current directions. In L. J.
Francis, W. K. Kay, & W. S. Campbell (Eds.), Research in reli
gious education (pp. 47–71). Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys.
Helminiak, D. A. (1987). Spiritual development: An interdisciplin
ary study. Chicago: Loyola University Press.
Hill, P. C., Pargament, K. I., Hood, R. W., McCullough, M. E.,
Swyers, J. P., Larson, D. B., et al. (2000). Conceptualizing
religion and spirituality: Points of commonality, points of de
parture. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 30,
Hodgkinson, V. A., & Weitzman, M. S. (1997). Volunteering and
giving among American teenagers 14 to 17 years of age (1996
ed.). Washington, DC: Independent Sector.
Holder, D. W., Durant, R. H., Harris, T. L., Daniel, J. H., Obeidallah,
D., & Goodman, E. (2000). The association between adolescent
spirituality and voluntary sexual activity. Journal of Adolescent
Health, 26, 295–302.
Hood, R. W., Jr., Spilka, B., Hunsberger, B., & Gorsuch, R. (1996).
The psychology of religion: An empirical approach (2nd ed.).
New York: Guilford.
Irwin, R. R. (2002). Human development and the spiritual life: How
consciousness grows toward transformation. New York:
Kluwer Academic/Plenum.
Jessor, R., Turbin, M. S., & Costa, F. M. (1998). Protective factors in
adolescent health behavior. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 75, 788–800.
Johnson, B. R., Jan, S. J., Larson, D. B., & Li, S. D. (2001). Does ad
olescent religious commitment matter? A reexamination of the
effects of religiosity on delinquency. Journal of Research in
Crime and Delinquency, 38, 22–43.
Kerestes, M., & Youniss, J. E. (2003). Rediscovering the importance
of religion in adolescent development. In R. M. Lerner, F.
Jacobs, & D. Wertlieb (Eds.), Handbook of applied develop
mental science. Vol. 1: Applying developmental science for
youth and families (pp. 165–184). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Koenig, H. G., McCullough, M. E., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Hand
book of religion and health. Oxford, England: Oxford Univer
sity Press.
Larson, E. J., & Witham, L. (1998, July). Leading scientists still re
ject God. Nature, 394, 313.
Larson, R., Brown, B. B., & Mortimer, J. (Eds.). (2002). Adoles
cents’ preparation for the future: Perils and promise. London:
Lerner, R. M. (Ed.) (2002). Concepts and theories of human develop
ment (3rd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
MacDonald, D. A. (2000). Spirituality: Description, measurement,
and relation to the five factor model of personality. Journal of
Personality, 68, 157–197.
Markstrom, C. A. (1999). Religious involvement and adolescent
psychosocial development. Journal of Adolescence, 22,
Marler, P. L., & Hadaway, C. K. (2002). “Being religious” or “being
spiritual” in America: A zero-sum proposition. Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, 41(2), 288–300.
McCrae, R. R. (1999). Mainstream personality psychology and the
study of religion. Journal of Personality, 67, 1209–1218.
Mills, P. J. (2002). Spirituality, religiousness, and health: From re
search to clinical practice [Special issue]. Annals of Behavioral
Medicine, 24. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia
University. (2001). So help me God: Substance abuse, religion,
and spirituality. New York: Author.
Nye, R. M. (1999). Relational consciousness and the spiritual lives
of children: Convergence with children’s theory of mind. In K.
H. Reich, F. K. Oser, & W. G. Scarlett (Eds.), The case of reli-
gion. Vol. 2: Psychological studies on spiritual and religious
development (pp. 57–82). Lengerich, Germany: Pabst.
Oser, F., & Scarlett W. G. (Eds.). (1991). Religious development in
childhood and adolescence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Overton, W. F. (1998). Developmental psychology: Philosophy, con
cepts, and methodology. In W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.),
Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of develop
ment (Vol. 1, 5th ed., pp. 107–188). New York: Wiley.
Paloutzian, R. F. (1996). Invitation to the psychology of religion (2nd
ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Pargament, K. I. (1997). The psychology of religion and coping: The
ory, research, practice. New York: Guilford.
Piedmont, R. L. (1999). Does spirituality represent the sixth factor of
personality? Spiritual transcendence and the five-factor model.
Journal of Personality, 67, 985–1013.
Regnerus, M. D. (2000). Shaping school success: Religious socializa
tion and educational outcomes in metropolitan public schools.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 39, 363–370.
Reich, K. H. (1996). A logic-based typology of science and theology.
Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 8, 149–167.
Reich, K. H. (2001, April). Fostering spiritual development: Theory,
practice, and measurement. Paper presented at the International
Conference on Religion and Mental Health, Teheran, Iran.
Reich, K. H., Oser, F. K., & Scarlett, W. G. (Eds.). (1999). The case
of religion. Vol. 2: Psychological studies on spiritual and reli
gious development. Lengerich, Germany: Pabst.
Reimer, K. S., & Furrow, J. L. (2001). A qualitative exploration of re
lational consciousness in Christian children. International
Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 6, 7–23.
Reker, G. T., & Chamberlain, K. (2000). Exploring existential mean
ing: Optimizing human development across the life span. Thou
sand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psy
chology [Special issue]. American Psychologist, 55.
Shahabi, L., Powell, L. H., Musick, M. A., Pargament, K. I.,
Thoresen, C. F., Williams, D., et al. (2002). Correlates of
self-perceptions of spirituality in American adults. Annals of
Behavioral Medicine, 24, 59–68.
Smith, C., & Faris, R. (2002). Religion and American adolescent de
linquency, risk behaviors, and constructive social activities.
Chapel Hill, NC: National Study of Youth and Religion, Uni
versity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Stifoss-Hanssen, H. (1999). Religion and spirituality: What a Euro
pean ear hears. International Journal for the Psychology of Re
ligion, 9, 25–33.
Thoresen, C. E., & Harris, A. H. S. (2002). Spirituality and health:
What’s the evidence and what’s needed? Annals of Behavioral
Medicine, 24, 3–13.
Wagener, L. M., Furrow, J. L., King, P. E., Leffert, N., & Benson, P.
L. (in press). Religion and developmental resources. Review of
Religious Research.
Wallace, J. M., & Forman, T. A. (1998). Religion’s role in promoting
health and reducing risk among American youth. Health Edu
cation and Behavior, 25, 721–741.
Weaver, A. J., Kline, A. E., Samford, J. A., Lucas, L. A., Larson, D.
B., & Gorsuch, R. L. (1998). Is religion taboo in psychology? A
systematic analysis of research on religion in seven major
American Psychological Association journals: 1991–1994.
Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 17, 220–232.
Weaver, A. J., Samford, J. A., Morgan, V. J., Lichton, A. I., Larson,
D. B., & Garbarino, J. (2000). Research on religious variables
in five major adolescent research journals: 1992–1996. Journal
of Nervous and Mental Disease, 188, 36–44.
Whitehead, B. D., Wilcox, B. L., & Rostosky, S. S. (2001). Keeping
the faith: The role of religion and faith communities in prevent
ing teen pregnancy. Washington, DC: National Campaign to
Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
Wright, L. S., Frost, C. J., & Wisecarver, S. J. (1993). Church atten
dance, meaningfulness of religion, and depressive
symptomatology among adolescents. Journal of Youth and Ad
olescence, 22, 559–568.
Youniss, J., McLellan, J. A., & Yates, M. (1999). Religion, commu
nity service, and identity in American youth. Journal of Adoles
cence, 22, 243–253.
Zinnbauer, B. J., Pargament, K. I., Cole, B., Rye, M. S., Butter, E.
M., Belavich, T. G., et al. (1997). Religion and spirituality:
Unfuzzying the fuzzy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Reli
gion, 36, 549–564.
Zinnbauer, B. J., Pargament, K. I., & Scott, A. B. (1999). The emerg
ing meanings of religiousness and spirituality: Problems and
prospects. Journal of Personality, 67, 889–919.
Received November 1, 2002
Final revision received January 15, 2003
Accepted January 27, 2003
... Religious characteristics such as private devotion (prayer) and existential certainty are critical components of this trait (Ellison, 1991). Benson et al. (2003) emphasized the importance of evaluating religiosity as a complex and multifaceted concept that includes subjective, cognitive, behavioral, and social and cultural components. Glock and Stark (1970) characterized religiosity in five dimensions: experiential, ritualistic, ideological, intellectual, and consequential religiosity. ...
Full-text available
This study examined how Indonesian Muslim female migrant workers in Hong Kong, the majority of whom work in the domestic sector, negotiate their religiosity in a secular society. As a method of investigation, qualitative exploratory research was used. Observation and in-depth semi-structured interviews were used to collect data with eight Indonesian Muslim female workers in Hong Kong. The findings show that: 1) despite workplace restrictions, these workers adhered to their religious rites; 2) they utilized the most viable solutions to enable them to conduct their job obligations that were incompatible with their religion; 3) they established halaqas [religious study groups] in several mosques throughout Hong Kong and met regularly; and 4) the migrant workers gained strength from their faith, while the religious study groups greatly assisted them in overcoming and resolving life's challenges. The researchers concluded that while it is critical for many workers to live according to their religion, many employers are unaware of their employees' religion and religious values. There should be better dialogue and agreement on how workers and employers can negotiate their rights and obligations. In response to the study's findings, several recommendations are made.
... (Iannello et al., 2019). Conversely, spirituality may be experienced both within and outside of a particular religious context (Benson, Roehlkepartain, & Rude, 2003) and is characterized by one's reason for existing, a desire for transcendence, and a sense of interconnectedness (King & Boyatiz, 2015). Although many may identify as religious and spiritual, around 27% of individuals identify as only spiritual (Lipka & Gecewicz, 2017), suggesting that these constructs are different. ...
Full-text available
Background and aims: In recent years, increasing attention has been given to the relationship between compulsive sexual behavior (CSB), religiosity, and spirituality. This review summarizes research examining the relationship CSB has with religiosity and spirituality, clarifying how these constructs inform the assessment and treatment of this syndrome. Methods: The present paper reviews research published through August 1, 2021, using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Only studies providing quantitative analyses were included. Results: This review identified 46 articles, subsuming 59 studies, analyzing the relationship between CSB and religiosity or spirituality. Most studies used cross-sectional designs with samples primarily composed of heterosexual White men and women. Generally, the studies found small to moderate positive relationships between religiosity and CSB. Studies considering the mediating or moderating role of moral incongruence identified stronger, indirect relationships between religiosity and problematic pornography use (PPU), a manifestation of CSB. Few studies examined the association between spirituality and CSB, but those that did either reported negative relationships between indicators of spiritual well-being and CSB or positive relationships between CSB and aspects of spiritual struggles. Discussion and conclusions: Although research examining CSB and religiosity has flourished, such growth is hampered by cross-sectional samples lacking in diversity. Moral incongruence assists in explaining the relationship between religiosity and PPU, but future research should consider other manifestations of CSB beyond PPU. Attention should also be given to examining other religiosity and spirituality constructs and obtaining more diverse samples in research on CSB, religiosity, and spirituality.
... While the current study demonstrates that secular mindfulness programming can be successful within parochial schools, the results may also inform recent efforts to promote spirituality across K-12 education, such as those supported by the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education. Spirituality, which refers to the human capacity to find meaning in our lives and to make connections with others that acknowledge our common humanity and our belonging to something greater than ourselves (Benson et al., 2003), is a key construct associated with positive youth development (Schoonmaker, 2009;Shek, 2012). Although the natural intersection of mindfulness and spirituality within education have been addressed in multiple reviews (Cobb et al., 2016;Roeser et al., 2008), empirical research is needed to identify opportunities to integrate mindfulness-based practices within classroom-and school-based curriculum that seek to promote spirituality in secular education. ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a school-based mindful yoga program on socioemotional competence and response to stress among youth. Participants in this quasi-experimental study included 112 5th and 6th grade students from three private Catholic elementary schools located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Students in the intervention group received weekly lessons in mindfulness-based practices across the year from trained child yoga instructors. Participants completed self-report measures on empathic awareness, perspective-taking, and involuntary engagement with stress at pre- and post-test. Analyses suggest that the program was beneficial in preventing significant increases in rumination and intrusive thoughts for students in the intervention group. Physiological and emotional arousal also remained low among the intervention group, but the differences were not significant. Contrary to expectations, levels of empathic awareness and perspective-taking remained stable in the intervention group while increases were reported among students in the control group. School-based mindful yoga programming may support involuntary stress responses among youth and contribute to more informed self-reported socioemotional awareness.
... In the latest studies examining the importance of moral and spiritual education for general human development, it was indicated that many significant factors that empower personal growth should be taken into consideration. Among them, one can find personality and self-identity, but also moral character and spiritual needs (Narvaez and Lapsley 2009;Benson et al. 2003;Dowling et al. 2004). In this context, moral and spiritual education does not appear as offering a ready pattern of obligations or a catalog of norms to be implemented, but rather as encouraging people to undertake efforts and independent reasoning through the prism of personally selected categories of moral and spiritual values that underlie the motivation of choices and decisions. ...
Full-text available
This paper aimed to introduce the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion KMDD® as one of the most effective methods that are designed to foster moral competence and, therefore, to promote tolerance and equality, regardless of cultural background, religion, or views. It is mainly used within the educational context, but it can be also implemented in different environments and conditions. The Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion should also be considered as the representative of a psycho-didactic approach to education. There is a possibility of assessing KMDD®’s effectiveness with the Moral Competence Test (MCT®), as well as comparing its significance with other methods that are not only based on the discussions of moral and spiritual dilemmas. Therefore, dilemma discussions would seem to be the best framework for practicing not only social skills and a democratic attitude but also positive mental health and psychological stability by providing a background for personal moral and spiritual growth.
To prepare youth for civil society, we need to expand the modern conception of humanism to a form of spiritual, communal, and pluralistic humanism that incorporates spirituality as a core dimension of human nature. Embedding these concepts in education involves three pillars—alignment with the spiritual and authentic self; community, interconnectedness, and service; and cherishing variety and pluralism—needed to prepare youth to create and sustain a harmonious, participatory civil society. We present a conceptual model for spiritual development and a practical model that invites pluralistic spirituality into education. We focus on the community of philosophical inquiry as another crucial layer that cultivates critical, creative, caring thinking and communal dialog, which are necessary to engage in a participatory civil society.
Full-text available
Interest in spirituality in the workplace and in leaders’ spirituality has grown in the last two decades, paralleled by the emergence of spiritual leadership theories and research. Despite evidence that spirituality is important to many leaders, the literature fails to adequately address the intersections of spiritual, leader, and moral development. A whole person and integrated approach to these three types of development seems beneficial to individual leaders, businesses, and society. In this article we first review spiritual, moral, and leader development literature. Then, drawing on the theory of being-centered leadership, we present a framework which addresses the parallel and intertwined nature of spiritual, leader, and moral development. Our proposed framework includes markers of the three types of development and is inclusive of multiple spiritual development traditions. Four practices and processes of spiritual development are also explored and related to leader and moral development processes. Implications for theory, research, and practice are presented.
Full-text available
The aim of the study was to assess the psychometric properties of the employee spirituality scale. The employee spirituality scale was found to be a reliable measure with good internal consistency. The internal consistency of this instrument, measured with Cronbach’s � coefficient, was 0.94. Factor analysis confirmed the two-dimensional structure of this measure, the dimensions being: relationship to a Higher Power (God) and attitude towards workmates and employer. A statistically significant positive correlation was found between employee spirituality and job satisfaction, as well as age, and a negative correlation was found with their intent to leave their organization. According to expectation, the relationship to a Higher Power (God) as a religious dimension of employee spirituality was strong, positively related to religious practices and attitude towards workmates and employer, and a secular dimension of employee spirituality did not correlate with religious measures. Gender did not differentiate participants in terms of employee spirituality. The presented results provide evidence that the employee spirituality scale has good psychometric properties and is therefore recommended for use by researchers studying employee spirituality in Polish organizations.
Religious orientation is an attitude toward religion or religious practices or an integrated set of attitudes and beliefs. As religion emphasizes moral codes designed to instil values such as helping, caring, emotional support and empathy in humans so, the study was designed to investigate the relationship between religious orientation and pro-social behavior of young female students. The study also examines the predicting role of religious orientation in the development of prosocial behavior in young female students. The non-probability purposive sampling technique has been used with correlational research design in order to collect data. Analysis was conducted on SPSS by using sample of N=150 young female students with age ranged 20-26 years (M=23.50, SD=3.43). The results showed religious orientation had significant positive association with pro-social behavior (r=.40, p>.00) in young female students. Meanwhile, the findings revealed that religious orientation was a significant positive predictor of prosocial behavior in young female students. The study implies that such types of religious orientation will develop more awareness in youth of the present era about the development of prosocial behaviors like charity and help to the needy.
Full-text available
There are many studies on how children ask questions and how this capacity develops over time. Drawing from a multidisciplinary evidence base, what is the empirical and theoretical knowledge of children’s inquiry, and how does it interact with overall child well-being throughout childhood? This study maps evidence of the development of inquiry as a core capacity for children, studies the relationship between inquiring and child well-being and explores the Learning for Well-Being Foundation’s theoretical framework.
Full-text available
Despite rapid advances in solving human physical problems, medical science has not yet taken effective actions to solve human psychological problems, whilst they play an important role in causing physical diseases. In general, religion significantly affects the health of the individuals and society. Psychological peace may be established through good beliefs and admirable moral deeds, and a believer can be transformed into a lively and happy human being who is always striving and communicating with his community. Therefore, this study aimed at determining the role of religious development in childhood on psychological health at Jakarta, Bandung, Medan and Surabaya in Indonesia. Hence, 3000 children of the above cities were investigated using a simple random sampling method. The statistical analyses using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) indicated that the participants acknowledged the role of religious development in the psychological health of individuals (p = 0.782; Sig. = 0.000). Maintaining the health of the people of the society is one of the most important issues of any country, which should be taken into account from different aspects, including psychological dimensions. The main task of psychological research studies is to ensure mental and psychological health of people in society, and as demonstrated by the results of this study, this is supported by religion, religiosity and a religious atmosphere in society. Contribution: This research article contributes to the determination of the role of religious development in the psychological health of children from Jakarta, Bandung, Medan and Surabaya in Indonesia.
Results obtained in young men with healthy prostates revealed that, on an individual basis, sexual activity must be assumed to have an effect on the PSA serum levels. This should be considered at least in the screening of prostate cancer.
This article examines traditional and modern psychological characterizations of religiousness and spirituality. Three ways in which religiousness and spirituality are polarized by contemporary theorists are examined: organized religion versus personal spirituality; substantive religion versus functional spirituality; and negative religiousness versus positive spirituality. An alternative approach to understanding religiousness and spirituality is presented that integrates rather than polarizes these constructs, and sets boundaries to the discipline while acknowledging the diversity of religious and spiritual expressions. Directions for future investigations of these two constructs are presented.
This book, the first of its kind, reviews and discusses the full range of research on religion and a variety of mental and physical health outcomes. Based on this research, the authors build theoretical models illustrating the various behavioural, psychological, and physiological pathways by which religion might affect health. They also review research that has explored the impact of religious affiliation, belief, and practice one use of health services and compliance with medical treatment. Finally, they discuss the implications of these findings, examine a number of possible clinical applications, and make recommendations for future research in this area