Dr. Christopher Leone | College of Arts and Sciences | Department of Psychology
Scholars have conceptually distinguished spirituality and religiousness (Hill et al., 2000), but there often is no discernible difference in the experiences of individuals who are spiritual but not religious versus individuals who are both spiritual and religious (Zinnbauer, 2013). Because these matters involve identity, we examined self-monitoring differences (which also involve identity) in spirituality and religiousness. According to Fuglestad and Snyder (2010), low self-monitors are driven by internal states (attitudes, values), whereas high self-monitors are motivated by external factors (social roles, norms). Participants completed the Self-Monitoring Scale (Snyder, 1974), the Religious Orientation Scale (Allport & Ross, 1967), and a forced choice identity item (being spiritual but not religious vs religious and spiritual). We used regression analyses with 95% CIs (i.e., confidence intervals) as estimates of statistical significance. Using Hayes’ PROCESS program (Hayes, 2013), there was only an indirect effect of self-monitoring on religious identity, b =+.09, 95% CIs:+.01,+.20. As self-monitoring increased, intrinsic religiosity decreased, b =-.30, 95% CIs:-.56,-.04; as intrinsic religiosity decreased, individuals were more likely to be spiritual but not religious, b =-.28, 95% CIs:-.40,-.17. In short, an intrinsic religious orientation (i.e., being religious as an end rather than a means to an end) mediated the connection between self-monitoring and religious identity. One implication of our findings is the differences between individuals who are spiritual but not religious versus individuals who are both spiritual and religious is the motivation behind their experiences rather than the experiences per se.
In our study, we wanted to look at self-monitoring differences between spirituality and religiosity. We chose these two concepts because they both are related to one’s sense of self and they both also deal with how people orient themselves to their world. Within orientations to faith there are two major orientations: religiosity and spirituality. Within religiosity there are two other well-known orientations: intrinsic orientation and extrinsic orientation. Someone with an intrinsic orientation is someone who is going to devote a lot of their life to their religion. Some examples of this would be a priest, nun, or any other religious figure. Someone with an extrinsic orientation looks to see how they can benefit from religion. So, they may look for a sense of community, relationships, or stress relief. Moving on to spirituality, the biggest difference between spirituality and religiosity is that for someone to be defined+ as spiritual, they do not necessarily have to attend religious institutions such as church. They often practice their beliefs in a more independent manner than those who are religious. Spirituality is very similar to intrinsic religiosity in the sense that both deal with a strong belief in a higher power. It is important to note that being religious and spiritual are not mutually exclusive of one another. One can be religious and spiritual, one can be simply religious, and one could just be spiritual. However, with our next concept, it is the opposite. With Self-monitoring you are either one of two types: a high self-monitor or a low self-monitor. High self-monitors prefer to be the right person at the right time for every situation. Low self-monitors prefer to be themselves across all situations. For our research we wanted to explore two questions regarding these concepts. We wanted to see if there was a relationship between self-monitoring and religious and spiritual identity and we wanted to see what the reason behind this relationship might be.
So, to answer these questions, we gathered participants. Our participants completed three measures. We gave them the Religious Orientation Scale to determine how high or low their intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientations were. We gave them a religious and spiritual identity item for them to describe their religious and spiritual identity for us. We gave them the Self-Monitoring Scale to measure their Self-Monitoring tendencies.
We had three significant results. the first table shows that as self-monitoring tendencies went up, intrinsic religiosity tended to go down. In other words. High Self-Monitors tended to be less intrinsically oriented, whereas low self-monitors tended to be more intrinsically oriented. Our next significant finding in table 3 in the row labeled intrinsic shows that those with a high intrinsic orientation were less likely to define themselves as spiritual and those with a low intrinsic orientation were more likely to define themselves as spiritual. Before I discuss the final significant result, I want to go back to our research questions. So, in our first question we wanted to see if self-monitoring tendencies were related to religious and spiritual identity. To answer that we would look at the fourth table and in the row labeled direct. So, regarding this result, we did not find anything significant. This would imply that self-monitoring is not directly related to religious and spiritual identity. Our next research question deals with our final significant result. We wanted to see what might explain the relationship between self-monitoring and religious and spiritual identity that we found. So, in our case, what might explain the lack of a relationship between self-monitoring and religious and spiritual identity. To do this, we used the statistical method called mediation. An example I like to use to explain mediation is the example of income and life expectancy. Those with a higher income typically live longer than those with a lower income. However, it isn’t simply that gaining more income makes them live longer. It more so deals with them having access to better health care. More income leads to better health care, which leads to a greater life expectancy. In this case, access to better health care mediates or explains the relationship between income and life expectancy. In our study’s case we found that an intrinsic orientation mediated the lack of a relationship between self-monitoring and religious and spiritual identity. Self-monitoring tendency leads to level of intrinsic orientation, which leads to religious and spiritual identity. The way we might rationalize this is that high self-monitors like to be flexible and be the right person for every situation. However, someone with an intrinsic orientation is someone who is going to devote a lot of their time to their religion and therefore be very focused on one thing at a time, a lot of the time. However, the more independent nature of spirituality is more preferable to high self-monitors because it doesn’t require them to lock themselves into any particular belief system. If you have any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email my professor Dr. Leone at email@example.com.