Friday, October 1, 2010

Psychology of Religious Faith Development Assignment 9

Wink and Dillon's “Religiousness, Spirituality, and Psychosocial Functoning in Late Adulthood:  Findings From a Longitudinal Study” provides a validating context for two types of lifestyles, namely the religious and the spiritual.  Each of these approaches is shown to have positive effects in old age.  A religious lifestyle, characterized as a “dwelling” type, is associated with traditional, church-related praxis, with submission to authority and community-centred activity.  A positive correlation is made between the religious lifestyle and specific psychosocial factors such as “well-being from positive relations with others, involvement in social and community life tasks, and generativity” (p. 916).  The spiritual lifestyle, on the other hand, is classified as a “seeking” type, and is marked by autonomous projects rather than involvement in a traditional church setting.  In late life, the spiritual lifestyle is positively correlated with “well-being from personal growth, involvement in creative and knowledge-building life tasks, and wisdom” (p. 916).  Each lifestyle is given a healthy justificatory evaluation, without prejudice.
The authors mention “age-specific sociocultural experiences” (p. 923) which may have affected their results.  Specifically, the popularity of the New Age movement in the 1960s in California is thought to have been influential in the shift of many people from a religious to a spiritual approach to living.  In estimating gender differences, the authors were further concerned about the confounding effects of the limited opportunities available to women born in the 1920s, supposing perhaps that this was directly related to a greater investment in creative activites.  Further study is suggested for the universalization of the findings, which would necessitate a more representative sample of the human race.  The study was concerned mostly with Caucasian persons in the developed world of the Christian faith.  For more general applicability, future research might include broader ethnic and socioeconomic parameters.  As a preliminary finding, the study proves useful in validating a variety of lifestyle approaches over the long term.

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