chapter
18 Pages

Effects of Religiosity and Spirituality on Depressive Symptoms and Prosocial Behaviors

Most Americans report that religious beliefs and practices are important to them, with 95% reporting a religious or spiritual affiliation (Plante, Yancey, Sherman, & Guertin, 2000). In addition to being valued, religiosity exerts direct and indirect effects on well being. To index religiosity, most researchers adopt a multidimensional definition that includes organizational behaviors and nonorganizational aspects. Organizational religiosity is typically indexed by one's membership and participation in formal religious services. Nonorganizational religiosity often includes various components such as prayer, devotional reading, and subjective experiences (Krause & Van Tran, 1989; McFadden, 1996; Taylor & Chatters, 1991). It is important to distinguish among these aspects because each exerts different effects on well being (Kennedy, Kelman, Thomas, & Chen, 1996; Koenig et aI., 1999; Taylor & Chatters, 1991). Although there is strong evidence that religiosity is directly associated with decreased morbidity and mortality (McCullough, Hoyt, Larson, Koenig, & Thoresen, 2000; Strawbridge, Cohen, Shema, & Kaplan, 1997), the evidence linking religiosity to psychosocial indicators of quality of life is scant and ambiguous. In the present study, we extend the examination of the effects of religi0sity by focusing on its association with depressive symptomatology and prosocial behavior. Moreover, we further differentiate among aspects of religiosity, by separating nonorganizational religiosity into private religious behaviors and subjective spirituality.