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Published on January 13, 2008

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College Student Definitions of Religiosity and Spirituality:  College Student Definitions of Religiosity and Spirituality Michael Zabriskie, Ph.D Division of Student Affairs Research Fair June 2, 2005 Research Questions:  Research Questions To what degree do students identify as being spiritual, religious, neither, or both? How do students view the constructs of religiosity and spirituality? Are perceived peer and collegiate environments of religiosity and spirituality related to students’ personal level of religiosity and spirituality? How do holy writings and beliefs about a higher power (e.g., God, Allah) affect student’s ideas about religiosity and spirituality? Note: Only the first three questions are addressed in this presentation. Definitions:  Definitions Major Literature Bases:  Major Literature Bases Faith, Belief, Religiosity, and Spirituality Models of Development Research on College Students Informed by: Linguistics Sociology of religion Higher education Theology Psychology Definitions:  Definitions Belief “Exclusively propositional or cognitive enterprise" (Parks, 1986, p. 11) Information or knowledge about God, not faith in God (Luther, 1907) Spirituality Connectedness with something larger Relationship Movement, dynamism Religion and Religiosity:  Religion and Religiosity Religion Embedded within culture System governing personal thought and life practices Organizational structure Religiosity The degree to which one defines herself or himself to be religious. Research:  Research Predictors of Religious Activity:  Predictors of Religious Activity Gender Women more prone to be religiously active (Gunnoe & Moore, 2002; Smith, Denton, Faris, & Regnerus 2002) Women are more apt to believe and feel closer to God (Low & Handal, 1995) Familial Practices Involvement in religious activity within the home Parental support Religious role models “Parental directives to attend church and church-related activities” (Gunnoe & Moore, 2002, p. 614) Predictors of Religious Activity:  Predictors of Religious Activity Geography Adolescents in the Southwest: highest Adolescents in the Northeast: lowest (Smith, et al. 2002) Social Systems Role of religious peers (Dillon, 1996) Denominational affiliation (O'Connor, Hoge, & Alexander, 2002) Religious schooling (Gunnoe & Moore, 2002) Definitional Research:  Definitional Research Traits of the religious and spiritual Spiritual = intrinsically focused Contentment, wisdom, discerning thought, and faith/submission Religious= extrinsic and interpersonally/ community-oriented committed belief, forgiveness, legalistic/ judgmental, and traditional values. (Cook, Borman, Moore, and Kunkel, 2000) Definitional Research:  Definitional Research Religiosity Institutionally oriented, authoritarian, orthodox, and related to parental patterns of attendance Spirituality More personal, open (e.g., New Age), with a greater frequency of prayer Common to Both Utilizing “traditional concepts of the sacred (e.g., references to God, Christ, the Church)” (Zinnbauer, et al., 1997, p. 561) Relationships Between Faith, Belief, Religion, and Spirituality:  Relationships Between Faith, Belief, Religion, and Spirituality Method and Sample:  Method and Sample Instrument Administration:  Instrument Administration Web based Quantitative and open-ended responses Four institutions Random stratified sample at large institutions (class year and gender) Entire population of smaller colleges Administered during the second semester of the school year (April & May) Instrument:  Instrument Knowledge & Beliefs Spirituality Religiosity Differentiation Background Characteristics Instrument:  Instrument Knowledge & Beliefs Certainty of a higher power, Potency of holy texts, Validity of holy texts, Experiences attributable to a higher power, Theories of life after death Spirituality and Religiosity What does the term [religiosity/spirituality] mean to you? Self-rating of S/R, Rating friends and cohort, Interpretation of life events, Behaviors, Influences on thoughts and behavior, Self-rated growth in S/R Instrument:  Instrument Differentiation Self-identification with terms, Relationship of terms to each other, Definitions of religiosity and spirituality (forced choice) Background Characteristics Gender, Age, Race, High school GPA, ACT/SAT score, Involvement in college activities, Year in college, Major, College GPA, Residence, Personal religious affiliation Parental education, religious affiliation, religiosity and spirituality Respondents:  Respondents 23.8% Response Rate 2/3 Female Ages 19-21 85% Caucasian Religious Affiliation 35.8% Protestant Christian 25.7% None 19.7% Catholic 18.8% Other affiliations (e.g., Jewish, Muslim) Results:  Results Question 1: To what degree do students identify as being spiritual, religious, neither, or both? :  Question 1: To what degree do students identify as being spiritual, religious, neither, or both? Definitional Research:  Definitional Research Zinnbauer, et al., 1997 Self Descriptions:  Self Descriptions Differences by Gender:  Differences by Gender X2=48.3, df=3*** *** p<.001 Question 2: How do students view the constructs of religiosity and spirituality?:  Question 2: How do students view the constructs of religiosity and spirituality? Definitions of Religiosity:  Definitions of Religiosity Major Themes Adherence Community Faith Practice Orientation In their own words:  In their own words Faith: “Religiosity based in faith in the true God carries life changing relevance and meaning. It guides our actions and thoughts brings us together with others who share our faith and allows us to know God better.” Practice Orientation: “The term religiosity to me means how I perform my life through religious acts. Do I go to church faithfully. Am I the best person I can be each day. Do I live for the Lord each day. Things like this.” Definitions of Religiosity by Group:  Definitions of Religiosity by Group In their own words:  In their own words Negative Perspectives: “Why are people Baptist, Catholic, or Lutheran? Because their parents raised them that way. Many believe that if one does not believe in god or is not saved in this life then they will end up in hell. According to those who think this way, if I was born and raised in a secluded forest and lived a good life having never been taught about religion, then I would end up in hell. Kind of hard to swallow.” “Reminds me of lemmings. and cliffs.” Definitions of Spirituality:  Definitions of Spirituality Major Themes Faith Connection Relationship Definitions of Spirituality by Group:  Definitions of Spirituality by Group In their own words:  In their own words Making Meaning: “Spirituality to me is a personal process of questioning what goes on around you asking what it means to you and searching the truth as it is defined by yourself.” “I consider myself spiritual even though I don't believe in a god because I see connections around me. I see that there is some order to the way the world works.” Inward Focus: “Getting in touch” “Seeking the answers within” In their own words:  In their own words Negative Perspectives: “It is a cop-out term used by people who find the precepts of traditional faiths too stringent. It implies a smorgasbord collection of whatever parts of other religions that most appeal to the person using them, not the true tenets of any divinely inspired faith.” “It is a made up term so people can say they are 'spiritual but not religious' so they can appear religious and more deep but without having to deal with judgment or having to answer for their actions.” Question 3: Are perceived environments related to students’ personal levels of religiosity and spirituality?:  Question 3: Are perceived environments related to students’ personal levels of religiosity and spirituality? Handout:  Handout See: Self Ratings of Religiosity and Spirituality Handout.doc Implications:  Implications Implications for Practice:  Implications for Practice Negative influence of the college environment on religiosity and spirituality Disparities by gender Importance of religious and spiritually-oriented activities Discussions about religion and spirituality in public and private institutions Implications for Research:  Implications for Research Sample demographic variation Skewed toward SnR and S+R Institutional differences Different researcher perspectives are needed Slide38:  Cook, S. W., Borman, P. D., Moore, M. A., & Kunkel, M. A. (2000). College students' perceptions of spiritual people and religious people. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 28(2), 125-137.   Gunnoe, M. L., & Moore, K. J. (2002). Predictors of religiosity among youth aged 17-22: A longitudinal study of the National Survey of Children. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(4), 613-622.   Luther, M. (1907). Luther's catechetical writings (J. N. Lenker, Trans. Vol. I). Minneapolis, MN: Luther Press.   O'Connor, T. P., Hoge, D. R., & Alexander, E. (2002). The relative influence of youth and adult experiences on personal spirituality and church involvement. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(4), 723-732.   Parks, S. D. (1986). The critical years: Young adults and the search for meaning, faith, and commitment. San Francisco: Harper & Row.   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 Religion, 36, 549-564. References

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