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Logic, Emotion and Closure: Motivations for Choices of Faith

Description: Spirituality and religiosity can play key roles in individual lives through influencing health, social relationships, political views, as well as many other facets (Newberg, D'Aquili & Rause, 2001; Milevsky & Levitt, 2004; Hirsh, Walberg & Peterson, 2013). As important as religious and spiritual beliefs are to societies, cultures, and individuals, little is known about which psychological factors determine choices of faith. Although there are likely many determinants of religious, spiritual, atheist or agnostic beliefs, this study explored four possible factors: critical thinking skills, need for cognition, need for emotional comfort/security, and need for closure. Participants included an undergraduate sample and a community sample. It was hypothesized that religious and spiritual individuals will have lower critical thinking skills, lower needs for cognition, higher needs for emotional comfort/security and higher needs for closure than agnostic and atheist individuals. Hypotheses also included potential interactions between these variables in predicting each faith path. Religiosity was measured using the I/E Religious Orientation Scale - Revised (Gorsuch & McPherson, 1989) and Spirituality was measured utilizing the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS) (Fetzer Institute, 1999). These two faith paths were also self -reported by participants after definitions of each were provided. Atheist and Agnostic beliefs were only measured through self-report. Results indicated that both measures of logic (critical thinking skills and need for cognition) and emotional comfort/security (Need to Belong and Religious Motivations) predicted various faith paths. Limitations included sample characteristics and small numbers of Atheist and Agnostic individuals. A better understanding of the motivations for choosing either spiritual or non-spiritual paths may assist in further explanation of the multiple roles each faith choice plays in individual lives.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Jenkins, Elizabeth