Humility and Religion: Benefits, Difficulties, and a Model of Religious Tolerance

  • Elissa Woodruff
  • Daryl R. Van Tongeren
  • Stacey McElroy
  • Don E. Davis
  • Joshua N. Hook
Part of the Cross-Cultural Advancements in Positive Psychology book series (CAPP, volume 9)


In this chapter, we explore the construct of humility, specifically focusing on its connections with religion, spirituality, and well-being. First, we review how the major world religions conceptualize and teach about the role of humility in living a virtuous life. Second, we review definitions of humility in psychological literature and summarize empirical research examining the associations between humility and well-being. Third, we explore the connections between religiousness and humility. Specifically, although religiousness may be one avenue to promote humility, we examine the paradox that, although most world religions teach and advocate for humility as a virtue, maintaining humility about one’s religious convictions is often challenging. Finally, we explore the role of intellectual humility for addressing the challenges involved in remaining humble to divergent belief systems and as a mechanism for reducing between-group conflict among individuals who hold dissonant beliefs.


Church Attendance Implicit Association Test Spiritual Support Religious Conviction Mortality Salience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to acknowledge the generous financial support of a grant from the Fuller Theological Seminary/Thrive Center in concert with the John Templeton Foundation, Grant No. 108 (Intellectual Humility in Religious Leaders) awarded to Joshua N. Hook (PI). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Fuller Thrive Center or the John Templeton Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elissa Woodruff
    • 1
  • Daryl R. Van Tongeren
    • 2
  • Stacey McElroy
    • 3
  • Don E. Davis
    • 3
  • Joshua N. Hook
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyHope CollegeHollandUSA
  3. 3.Department of Counseling and Psychological ServicesGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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