Potential Positive Outcomes of Religion and Spirituality; Exploring Individual Experience
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Previous literature implies that aspects such as meaning and purpose to life (Meier, O’Connor & VanKatwyk, 2006; Vela, Ly, Lenz, Savage and Guardiola, 2016), a sense of belonging (Lun& Bond, 2013; Hayward & Krause, 2014) and religious coping (Edmondson & Park, 2009; Pargament, 2001; Schuster et al, 2001) all signify how religion and spirituality can positively influence a better wellbeing (Borges, Santos & Pinheiro, 2015). However, research can be criticised to be ethnocentric (Haywood & Krause, 2014; Altemeyer, 2009), and the definitions of religion and spirituality appear to not be distinct enough to understand the differences, if any, between the two entities (Hufford, 2010; Mattis, 2000; Borges, Dantos & Pinheiro, 2015). The aim of this study is to use a qualitative approach in order to explore the potential positive outcomes of religion and spirituality based on subjective experiences. Semi-structured interviews were used for this study with a total of six participants, all of different religious faiths. A thematic analysis was used as the method of analysis. A total of five themes were identified, which were positive mindset, the ongoing journey, coping methods, social influences, and a life without religion. The results of the current study were consistent with previous research. Participants all expressed positive experiences and notions related to having religion and spirituality as part of their life, but paradoxically appeared to relate to times of distress when expressing. It was clear that the people and influences around the participants had an effect on their beliefs in a positive way, even if the experience was negative, and a sense of meaning to life and self actualization appeared emphasised overall in every transcript. Future research should focus on whether spirituality and religion distinctively have positive outcomes as two separate entities. Focus also should be given to differences in the sample size; gender differences, if any, as well as the elderly which was highlighted as possible limitations of the current study.
BSc (Hons) Psychology
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