Advertisement

Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 1002–1016 | Cite as

Humility, Lifetime Trauma, and Change in Religious Doubt Among Older Adults

  • Neal Krause
  • R. David Hayward
Original Paper

Abstract

Compared to research on the positive or beneficial effects of religion on health, far fewer studies have been designed to examine the potentially negative aspects of religion. The purpose of this study is to examine a potentially negative part of leading a religious life—religious doubt. More specifically, the current study was designed to assess the relationships among humility, exposure to lifetime trauma, and change in religious doubt over time. Two hypotheses were developed to explore the relationships among these constructs. The first hypothesis predicts that greater exposure to traumatic events at any point in the life course will be associated with greater doubts about religion over time. The second hypothesis proposes that the potentially deleterious effects of exposure to lifetime trauma will be buffered or offset for individuals who are more humble. Findings from a nationwide, longitudinal survey of older adults provide support for both hypotheses. This appears to be the first time that the relationship among humility, lifetime trauma, and change in religious doubt has been evaluated empirically.

Keywords

Humility Religious doubt Trauma 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (RO1 AG014749) and a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

References

  1. Aiken, L., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Barna, G. (2006). The state of the church: 2006. Ventura, CA: The Barna Group.Google Scholar
  4. Berger, P. L. (1967). The sacred canopy: Elements of a sociological theory. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  5. Clifton-Soderstrom, K. (2009). The phenomenology of religious humility in Heidegger’s reading of Luther. Contemporary Philosophical Review, 42, 171–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist, 59, 676–684.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen, S., Kessler, R. C., & Underwood, L. (1995). Measuring stress: A guide for health and social scientists. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cottingham, J. (2009). Why believe?. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  9. Davis, D. E., Worthington, E. L., & Hook, J. N. (2010). Humility: Review of measurement strategies and conceptualization as personality judgment. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 243–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eckhart, M. (1981). On detachment. In Meister Eckhart: The essential sermons, commentaries treatises, and defense (E. Colledge & B. McGinn, Trans.) (pp. 263–295). New York: Paulist Press.Google Scholar
  11. Ehrman, B. D. (2008). God’s problem. New York: Harper One.Google Scholar
  12. Ellison, C. G., & Lee, J. (2010). Spiritual struggles, and psychological distress: Is there a dark side to religion? Social Indicators, 98, 501–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Enders, C. K. (2010). Applied missing data analysis. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  14. Exline, J., & Rose, E. (2005). Religious and spiritual struggles. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 315–330). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  15. Frazier, P. A. (1990). Victim attributions and post-rape trauma. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 298–304.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Galek, K., Krause, N., Ellison, C. G., & Flannelly, K. J. (2007). Religious doubt and mental health across the lifespan. Journal of Adult Development, 14, 16–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gall, T. L., Kristjansson, E., Charbonneau, C., & Florack, P. (2009). A longitudinal study on the role of spirituality in response to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 32, 174–186.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gallup, G. D. & Lindsay, M. (1999). Surveying the religious landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse.Google Scholar
  19. Hunsberger, B. S., McKenzie, B., Pratt, M., & Pancer, S. M. (1993). Religious doubt: A social psychological analysis. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 5, 27–51.Google Scholar
  20. Hunsberger, B. S., Pratt, M., & Pancer, S. M. (2002). A longitudinal study of religious doubt in high school and beyond: Relationships, stability, and searching for answers. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 255–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kanner, A. D., Coyne, J. C., Schaefer, C., & Lazarus, R. S. (1981). Comparison of two modes of stress measurement: Daily hassles and uplifts versus major life events. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 1–39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kellenberger, J. (2010). Humility. American Philosophical Quarterly, 47, 321–336.Google Scholar
  23. Koenig, H. G., McCullough, M. E., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Handbook of religion and health. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kohlberg, L. (1973). Stages and aging in moral development—some explanations. The Gerontologist, 13, 497–502.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Krause, N. (2002a). Church-based social support and health in old age: Exploring variations by race. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 57B, S209–S220.Google Scholar
  26. Krause, N. (2002b). A comprehensive strategy for developing closed-ended survey items for use in studies of older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 57B, S263–S274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Krause, N. (2003a). A preliminary assessment of race differences in the relationship between religious doubt and depressive symptoms. Review of Religious Research, 45, 93–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Krause, N. (2003b). The social foundations of personal control in late life. In S. Zarit, L. I. Pearlin, & K. W. Schaie (Eds.), Societal impacts on personal control in the elderly (pp. 45–70). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  29. Krause, N. (2005). God-mediated control and psychological well-being in late life. Research on Aging, 27, 136–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krause, N., & Borawski-Clark, E. (1994). Clarifying the functions of social support in late life. Research on Aging, 16, 251–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krause, N., & Ellison, C. G. (2009). The doubting process: A longitudinal study of the precipitants and consequences of religious doubt. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 48, 293–312.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Krause, N., & Wulff, K. (2004). Religious doubt and health: Exploring the potential dark side of religion. Sociology of Religion, 65, 35–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Krause, N., Shaw, B. A., & Cairney, J. (2004). A descriptive epidemiology of lifetime trauma and the physical health status of older adults. Psychology and Aging, 19, 637–648.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Levenson, M. R., & Crumpler, C. A. (1996). Three models of adult development. Human Development, 39, 135–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lewis, C. S. (1942/1980). Mere Christianity. San Francisco: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  36. Newman, J. (1982). Humility and self-realization. Journal of Value Inquiry, 16, 275–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Newsom, J. T., Mahan, T. J., Rook, K. S., & Krause, N. (2008). Stable negative social exchanges and health. Health Psychology, 27, 78–86.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Norris, F. H. (1992). Epidemiology of trauma: Frequency and impact of different potentially traumatic events on different demographic groups. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60, 409–418.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pargament, K. I., Murray-Swank, N. A., Magyar, G. M., & Ano, G. G. (2005). Spiritual struggles: A phenomenon of interest to psychology and religion. In W. R. Miller & H. D. Delaney (Eds.), Judeo-Christian perspectives on psychology: Human nature, motivation, and change (pp. 245–268). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pearlin, L. I., Menaghan, E., Lieberman, M., & Mullan, J. (1981). The stress process. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 22, 337–356.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Rowatt, W. C., Ottenbreit, A., Nesselroade, K. P., & Cunningham, P. A. (2002). On being holier-than-thee: A social-psychological perspective on religiousness and humility. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 227–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schieman, S., Gundy, K., & Taylor, J. (2001). Status, role, and resource explanations for age patterns in psychological distress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42, 80–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schieman, S., Pudrovska, T., & Milkie, M. A. (2005). The sense of divine control and self-concept: A study of race differences in late life. Research on Aging, 27, 165–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sedikides, C., & Gebauer, J. E. (2010). Religiosity as self-enhancement: A meta-analysis of the relation between socially desirable responding and religiosity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 17–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sherman, J. (2009). Bend to avoid breaking: Job loss, gender norms, and family stability in rural America. Social Problems, 56, 599–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tangney, J. P. (2005). Humility: Theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and directions for future research. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 70–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tornstam, L. (2005). Gerotranscendence: A developmental theory of positive aging. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  49. Turner, R. J., & Lloyd, D. A. (1995). Lifetime trauma and mental health: The significance of cumulative adversity. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36, 360–376.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Uziel, L. (2010). Rethinking social desirability scales: From impression management to interpersonally oriented self-control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 243–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wheaton, B. (1994). Sampling the stress universe. In W. R. Avison & I. H. Gotlieb (Eds.), Stress and mental health: Contemporary issues and prospects for the future (pp. 77–114). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  52. Wheaton, B., Roszell, P., & Hall, K. (1997). The impact of twenty childhood and adult traumatic stressors on the risk of psychiatric disorder. In I. H. Gotlieb & B. Wheaton (Eds.), Stress and adversity over the life course (pp. 50–72). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthThe University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations