Spiritual But Not Religious? Evidence for Two Independent Dispositions


  • Work on this article was supported by Grant MH-49227 from the National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Public Health Service. The authors are grateful to Tarik Bel-Bahar and Lewis R. Goldberg for helpful suggestions.

regarding this article may be addressed to: Gerard Saucier, Department of Psychology, 1227 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403. E-mail: gsaucier@uoregon.edu.


ABSTRACT 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.