Personality and religious orientation : shifting sands or firm foundations?

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Francis, Leslie J.

Beit-Hallami and Argyle (1997) concluded that individual differences in religiosity are inversely related to psychoticism but independent of extraversion and neuroticism. The aim of the present study is to test the generalisability of that conclusion within the context of Eysenck's dimensional model of personality by distinguishing between different conceptualisations of religiosity and by distinguishing between different overall levels of religiosity in the sample. A total of 517 undergraduate students in Wales completed the short-form of the Revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire together with the New Indices of Religious Orientation. The data demonstrated that in the sample as a whole intrinsic religious orientation was associated with low psychoticism scores, but independent of extraversion scores and neuroticism scores; that extrinsic religious orientation was associated with low psychoticism scores and high neuroticism scores, but independent of extraversion scores; and that quest religious orientation was associated with high neuroticism scores and low extraversion scores, but independent of psychoticism scores. The pattern of relationships changed, however, when separate analyses were conducted among weekly churchgoers and among individuals who never attended church. These data suggest that the pattern of relationship between personality and religion may vary both according to the form of religiosity assessed and according to the samples being studied. The conclusion is drawn that Beit-Hallami and Argyle's conclusion is misleading unless nuanced in terms of the aspects of religiosity and the populations to which it applies.
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