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


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.


Humility Religious doubt Trauma 



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


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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

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