Daily Spiritual Experiences and Prosocial Behavior
This paper examines how the Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale (DSES) relates to range of prosocial behaviors, using a large, nationally representative U.S. data set. It finds that daily spiritual experiences are a statistically and substantively significant predictor of volunteering, charitable giving, and helping individuals one knows personally. Daily spiritual experiences better predict helping to distant others than to friends and family, indicating that they may motivate helping by fostering an extensive definition of one’s moral community. The relationship between the DSES and helping is not moderated by sympathy and is robust to the inclusion of most religiosity measures. However, the relationship becomes non-significant for most helping behaviors when measures of meditation, prayer, and mindfulness are included in a regression equation. The DSES is particularly effective in predicting helping behaviors among people who do not belong to a religious congregation, indicating that it may measure spiritual motivations for helping among people who are not conventionally religious.
KeywordsDaily spiritual experiences Prosocial behavior Volunteering Charitable giving Internal religiosity
- Clary, E. G., & Snyder, M. (1991). A functional analysis of altruism and prosocial behavior: The case of volunteerism. Review of Personality and Social Psychology, 12, 119–148.Google Scholar
- Davis, M. H. (1994). Empathy: A social psychological approach. Madison: WCB Brown and Benchmark.Google Scholar
- Einolf, C. J. (2011). Informal and non-organised volunteering. Report E-3 of the United Nations State of the World’s Volunteering Report. Bonn, Germany: United Nations Volunteer Programme.Google Scholar
- Fetzer Institute. (1999). Multidimensional measurement of religiousness/spirituality for use in health research. Downloaded from http://www.fetzer.org on November 30, 2010.
- Idler, E. L., Musick, M. A., Ellison, C. G., George, L. K., Krause, N., Ory, M. G., et al. (2003). Measuring multiple dimensions of religion and spirituality for health research: Conceptual background and findings from the 1998 General Social Survey. Research on Aging, 25, 327–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Loustalot, F. V., Wyatt, S. B., Boss, B., May, W., & McDyess, T. (2006). Psychometric examination of the Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 13, 162–167.Google Scholar
- Mayoral, E., Underwood, L. G., Laca, F., & Mejía, J. C. (In press). Validation of the Spanish version of Underwood‘s Daily Spiritual Experience Scale in Mexico. International Journal of Hispanic Psychology.Google Scholar
- Monroe, K. R. (1996). The heart of altruism: Perceptions of a common humanity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Musick, M. A., & Wilson, J. (2008). Volunteers: A social profile. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Musick, M. A., Wilson, J., & Bynum, W. B., Jr. (2000). Race and formal volunteering: The differential effects of class and religion. Social Forces, 78, 1539–1570.Google Scholar
- Oliner, S., & Oliner, P. (1988). The altruistic personality. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Omoto, A. M., Snyder, M., & Martino, S. C. (2000). Volunteerism and the life course: Investigating age-related agendas for volunteer action. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 22, 181–197.Google Scholar
- Penner, L. A., Fritszche, B. A., Craiger, J. P., & Friefeld, T. S. (1995). Measuring the prosocial personality. In J. Butcher & C. D. Spielburger (Eds.), Advances in personality assessment (Vol. 10). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
- Saroglou, V. (2006). Religion’s role in prosocial behavior: Myth or reality? Psychology of Religion Newsletter, 31(2), 1–8.Google Scholar
- Underwood, L. G. (2010). Selected published studies using the Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale. Downloaded September 3, 2010, from http://www.dsescale.org/PublishedStudies_20100604.pdf.
- Zemore, S. E., & Kaskutas, L. A. (2004). Helping, spirituality, and alcoholics anonymous in recovery. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65, 383–391.Google Scholar