Religious Involvement, Beliefs About God, and the Sense of Mattering Among Older Adults


Acknowledgments: An NIA grant award AG17461 (Leonard I. Pearlin, P.I.) supports this work. Scott Schieman and Alex Bierman are co-first authors.
Correspondence should be addressed to Scott Schieman, University of Toronto, Department of Sociology, 725 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5S2J4, Canada. E-mail:


Using data from a 2001–2002 sample of adults aged 65 and older living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, we examine the associations among religious involvement (as measured by the frequency of attendance at religious services and praying), the belief in divine control, and the sense of mattering—a key component of the self-concept. We also assess the extent to which these patterns vary by gender, race, and education. Findings indicate indirect effects of religious attendance on mattering through divine control beliefs and the frequency of social contact. Praying increases mattering indirectly only through divine control beliefs. Moreover, divine control beliefs are more strongly associated with mattering among women, African Americans, and individuals with less education. We discuss the contribution of these findings for theory about the links between religious involvement, beliefs about God, and psychosocial resources, and the influence of core dimensions of social status and stratification.