Intrinsic religiosity attenuates the negative relationship between social disconnectedness and meaning in life

Caleb J. Reynolds, Spencer M. Smith, Paul Conway

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Abstract

Positive social connections are integral to people’s experience of meaning in their lives. As such, social isolation can make life seem meaningless. Chan, Michalak, and Ybarra (2019, Journal of Personality) provided evidence that religious beliefs (not just participation in corporate religious life) can provide an alternative source of meaning for people who feel socially isolated. We tested whether this phenomenon was specific to (a) intrinsic versus extrinsic orientations toward religion and (b) experiencing meaning in one’s life at present versus actively searching for meaning. In a sample of undergraduates, high levels of intrinsic—but not extrinsic—religiosity attenuated the relationship between social disconnection and decreased meaning in life. Moreover, this attenuation was specific to felt presence of meaning in life, rather than active search for meaning. These results corroborate and expand Chan et al.’s findings and suggest that future research should explore mechanisms by which religious beliefs themselves serve meaning-making functions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Early online date4 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 4 Jul 2020

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