Prior research has demonstrated positive associations between general humility and well-being, and posited a protective effect for intellectual humility against maladjustment among religious leaders. We tested a model that extended findings on general humility to include intellectual humility among religious leaders (N = 258; M age = 42.31; 43% female; 63.7% White; 91.9% Christian affiliation). We observed a positive general humility–well-being association. Contrary to expectations, we observed risk effects for religion-specific intellectual humility. Our findings also point to the possibility that these risk effects might be attenuated by the integration of high levels of general and intellectual humility.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Arbuckle, J. L. (2013). IBM SPSS Amos 22 user’s guide. Chicago, IL: IBM.
Ball, R. G., & Puls, D. (2015). Frequency of narcissistic personality disorder in pastors: A preliminary study. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors, Nashville, TN.
Beck, R., & Jessup, R. K. (2004). The multidimensional nature of quest motivation. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 32, 283–294.
Bloom, M., & Adams, C. (2017). Flourishing in ministry: Wellbeing at work in helping professions. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 36, 254–59.
Byrne, B. M. (2010). Structural equation modeling with AMOS (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Connelly, B. S., & Ones, D. S. (2010). An other perspective on personality: Meta-analytic integration of observers’ accuracy and predictive validity. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 1092–1122. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021212.
Davis, D. E., Hook, J. N., Worthington, E. L., Jr., Van Tongeren, D. R., Gartner, A. L., Jennings, D. J., II, et al. (2011). Relational humility: Conceptualizing and measuring humility as a personal judgment. Journal of Personality Assessment, 93, 225–234. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223891.2011.558871.
Davis, D. E., Rice, K., McElroy, S., DeBlaere, C., Choe, E., Van Tongeren, D. R., et al. (2016). Distinguishing intellectual humility and general humility. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11, 215–224. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2015.1048818.
Davis, D. E., Worthington, E. L., Jr., & Hook, J. N. (2010). Humility: Review of measurement strategies and conceptualization as personal judgment. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 243–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439761003791672.
Davis, D. E., Worthington, E. L., Hook, J. N., Emmons, R. A., Hill, P. C., Bollinger, R. A., et al. (2013). Humility and the development and repair of social bonds: Two longitudinal studies. Self & Identity, 12, 58–77. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2011.636509.
DeCoster, J., & Iselin, A. (2009). Simple slopes for a 2-way interaction. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Retrieved from http://www.stat-help.com/spreadsheets.html.
Drake, J. R., Murdock, N. L., Marszalek, J. M., & Barber, C. E. (2015). Differentiation of self inventory—Short form: Development and preliminary validation. Contemporary Family Therapy, 37, 101–112. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-015-9329-7.
Evans, C., Connell, J., Barkham, M., Margison, F., McGrath, G., Mellor-Clark, J., et al. (2002). Towards a standardised brief outcome measure: Psychometric properties and utility of the CORE-OM. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 180, 51–60.
Evans, C., Mellor-Clark, J., Margison, F., Barkham, M., Audin, K., Connell, J., et al. (2000). CORE: Clinical outcomes in routine evaluation. Journal of Mental Health, 9, 247–255. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638230050073400.
Fatter, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2013). What facilitates countertransference management? The roles of therapist meditation, mindfulness, and self-differentiation. Psychotherapy Research, 5, 502–512. https://doi.org/10.1080/10503307.2013.797124.
Francis, L. J. (2015). The science of clergy work-related psychological health, stress, burnout and coping strategies: Introduction to the special section. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 26, 123–140.
Granqvist, P. (2005). Building a bridge between attachment and religious coping: Tests of moderators and mediators. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 8, 35–47. https://doi.org/10.1080/1367467041000166659.
Hall, T. W., & Edwards, K. E. (2002). The Spiritual Assessment Inventory: A theistic model and measure for assessing spiritual development. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 341–357.
Hill, P. C., Laney, E. K., & Edwards, K. J. (2015). Measuring humility: Development and validation of two self-report measures of general and intellectual humility. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, ON.
Hook, J. N., Davis, D. E., Van Tongeren, D. R., Hill, P. C., Worthington, E. J., Farrell, J. E., et al. (2015). Intellectual humility and forgiveness of religious leaders. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10, 499–506. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2015.1004554.
Hook, J. N., Farrell, J. E., Johnson, K. A., Van Tongeren, D. R., Davis, D. E., & Aten, J. D. (2017). Intellectual humility and religious tolerance. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12, 29–35. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2016.1167937.
Hopkin, C. R., Hoyle, R. H., & Toner, K. (2014). Intellectual humility and reactions to opinions about religious beliefs. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 42, 50–61.
Hoyle, R. H., Davisson, E. K., Diebels, K. J., & Leary, M. R. (2016). Holding specific views with humility: Conceptualization and measurement of specific intellectual humility. Personality and Individual Differences, 97, 165–172. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.03.043.
Jankowski, P. J., & Sandage, S. J. (2014). Attachment to God and humility: Indirect effect and conditional effects models. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 42, 70–82.
Jankowski, P. J., Sandage, S. J., & Hill, P. C. (2013). Differentiation-based models of forgivingness, mental health and social justice commitment: Mediator effects for differentiation of self and humility. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8, 412–424. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2013.820337.
Kerr, M. E., & Bowen, M. (1988). Family evaluation. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York, NY: Guilford.
Koenig, H. G. (2012). Religion, spirituality, and health: The research and clinical implications. ISRN Psychiatry, 2012, 1–33. https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/278730.
Lamers, S. A., Westerhof, G. J., Bohlmeijer, E. T., ten Klooster, P. M., & Keyes, C. M. (2011). Evaluating the psychometric properties of the mental health Continuum-Short Form (MHC-SF). Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67, 99–110. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.20741.
Leary, M. R., Diebels, K. J., Davisson, E. K., Jongman-Sereno, K. P., Isherwood, J. C., Raimi, K. T., et al. (2017). Cognitive and interpersonal features of intellectual humility. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 793–813. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217697695.
McElroy, S. E., Rice, K. G., Davis, D. E., Hook, J. N., Hill, P. C., Worthington, E. J., et al. (2014). Intellectual humility: Scale development and theoretical elaborations in the context of religious leadership. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 42, 19–30.
Monroe, N., & Jankowski, P. J. (2016). The effectiveness of a prayer intervention in promoting change in perceived attachment to God, positive affect, and psychological distress. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 3(237), 249. https://doi.org/10.1037/scp0000117.
Olsen, D. C., & Devor, N. G. (2015). Saying no to say yes: Everyday boundaries and pastoral excellence. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Owens, B. P., Johnson, M. D., & Mitchell, T. R. (2013). Expressed humility in organizations: Implications for performance, teams, and leadership. Organization Science, 24, 1517–1538. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1120.0795.
Owens, B. P., Wallace, A. S., & Waldman, D. A. (2015). Leader narcissism and follower outcomes: The counterbalancing effect of leader humility. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1203–1213. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038698.
Paine, D. R., Jankowski, P. J., & Sandage, S. J. (2016). Humility as a predictor of intercultural competence: Mediator effects for differentiation-of-self. The Family Journal, 24, 15–22. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480715615667.
Paine, D. R., Sandage, S. J., Rupert, D., Devor, N. G., & Bronstein, M. (2015). Humility as a psychotherapeutic virtue: Spiritual, philosophical, and psychological foundations. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 17, 3–25. https://doi.org/10.1080/19349637.2015.957611.
Preacher, K. J., & Selig, J. P. (2012). Advantages of Monte Carlo confidence intervals for indirect effects. Communications Methods and Measures, 6, 77–98. https://doi.org/10.1080/19312458.2012.679848.
Proeschold-Bell, R. J., Eisenberg, A., Adams, C., Smith, B., Legrand, S., & Wilk, A. (2015). The glory of God is a human being fully alive: Predictors of positive versus negative mental health among clergy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 54, 702–721. https://doi.org/10.1111/jssr.12234.
Proeschold-Bell, R., Yang, C., Toth, M., Corbitt Rivers, M., & Carder, K. (2014). Closeness to God among those doing God’s work: A spiritual well-being measure for clergy. Journal of Religion and Health, 53, 878–894. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-013-9682-5.
R Development Core Team. (2014). R: A language and environment for statistical computing [Computer software]. Vienna: R Foundation. Available from http://www.R-project.org.
Regas, S. J., Kostick, K. M., Bakaly, J. W., & Doonan, R. L. (2017). Including the self-of-the-therapist in clinical training. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 6, 18–31. https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000073.
Robbins, S. B., & Patton, M. J. (1985). Self-psychology and career development: Construction of the Superiority and Goal Instability scales. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 32, 221–231.
Rowatt, W., & Kirkpatrick, L. A. (2002). Two dimensions of attachment to God and their relation to affect, religiosity, and personality constructs. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 637–651. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-5906.00143.
Sandage, S. J., Jankowski, P. J., Bissonette, C. D., & Paine, D. R. (2017). Vulnerable narcissism, forgiveness, humility, and depression: Mediator effects for differentiation of self. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 34, 300–310. https://doi.org/10.1037/pap0000042.
Sandage, S. J., Jankowski, P., Crabtree, S. A., & Schweer, M. (2015a). Attachment to God, adult attachment, and spiritual pathology: Mediator and moderator effects. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 18, 795–808. https://doi.org/10.1080/13674676.2015.1090965.
Sandage, S. J., & Jensen, M. L. (2013). Relational spiritual formation: Reflective practice and research on spiritual formation in a seminary context. Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry, 33, 95–109.
Sandage, S. J., Paine, D., & Hill, P. (2015b). Spiritual barriers to humility: A multidimensional study. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 18, 207–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/13674676.2015.1038229.
Schoenleber, M., Roche, M. J., Wetzel, E., Pincus, A. L., & Roberts, B. W. (2015). Development of a brief version of the Pathological Narcissism Inventory. Psychological Assessment, 27, 1520–1526. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000158.
Shults, F. L., & Sandage, S. J. (2006). Transforming spirituality: Integrating theology and psychology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Skowron, E. A., & Dendy, A. K. (2004). Differentiation of self and attachment in adulthood: Relational correlates of effortful control. Contemporary Family Therapy, 26, 337–357. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:COFT.0000037919.63750.9d.
Skowron, E. A., & Schmitt, T. A. (2003). Assessing interpersonal fusion: Reliability and validity of a new DSI fusion with others subscale. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 29, 209–222. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2003.tb01201.x.
Van Tongeren, D. R., Stafford, J., Hook, J. N., Green, J. D., Davis, D. E., & Johnson, K. A. (2016). Humility attenuates negative attitudes and behaviors toward religious out-group members. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11, 199–208. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2015.1037861.
Vazire, S. (2010). Who knows what about a person? The self-other knowledge asymmetry (SOKA) model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 281–300. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017908.
Weidman, A. C., Cheng, J. T., & Tracy, J. L. (2016). The psychological structure of humility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychologydoi. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000112. (Advance online publication).
Weiss, D. S., & Marmar, C. R. (1997). the impact of event scale-revised. In J. P. Wilson & T. M. Keane (Eds.), Assessing psychological trauma and PTSD (pp. 399–411). New York, NY: Guilford.
Wells, C. R. (2013). The effects of work-related and boundary-related stress on the emotional and physical health status of ordained clergy. Pastoral Psychology, 62, 101–114.
Whitcomb, D., Battaly, H., Baehr, J., & Howard-Snyder, D. (2017). Intellectual humility: Owning our limitations. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 94, 509–539.
Wolfteich, C. E., Keefe-Perry, C., Sandage, S., & Paine, D. R. (2016a). Humility: Empirical psychological research in dialogue with practical theology—Part I. International Journal of Practical Theology, 20, 143–155. https://doi.org/10.1515/ijpt-2015-0055.
Wolfteich, C. E., Keefe-Perry, C., Sandage, S., & Paine, D. R. (2016b). Humility: Empirical psychological research in dialogue with practical theology—Part II. International Journal of Practical Theology, 20, 184–202. https://doi.org/10.1515/ijpt-2016-0027.
Woodruff, E., Van Tongeren, D. R., McElroy, S., Davis, D. E., & Hook, J. N. (2014). Humility and religion: Benefits, difficulties, and a model of religious tolerance. In C. Kim-Prieto (Ed.), Religion and spirituality across cultures (pp. 271–285). New York, NY: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-8950-9_14.
Worthington, E. J., & Sandage, S. J. (2016). Forgiveness and spirituality in psychotherapy: A relational approach. Washington: APA. https://doi.org/10.1037/14712-000.
Zhang, H., Hook, J. N., Farrell, J. E., Mosher, D. K., Van Tongeren, D. R., & Davis, D. E. (2016). The effect of religious diversity on religious belonging and meaning: The role of intellectual humility. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000108. (Advance online publication).
This study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation (grant number 60622).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
About this article
Cite this article
Jankowski, P.J., Sandage, S.J., Bell, C.A. et al. Humility, Relational Spirituality, and Well-being among Religious Leaders: A Moderated Mediation Model. J Relig Health 58, 132–152 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-018-0580-8
- Intellectual humility
- Differentiation of self
- Attachment to God
- Religious leaders