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New Measurement Strategies for Religion: Spirituality and Progressive Religiosity
 

New Measurement Strategies for Religion: Spirituality and Progressive Religiosity

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This paper by Public Religion Research Institute's Dr. Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox explores two neglected aspects of religion--spirituality as a distinct component and progressive religiosity--and ...

This paper by Public Religion Research Institute's Dr. Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox explores two neglected aspects of religion--spirituality as a distinct component and progressive religiosity--and proposes new measurement strategies for examining them. We have two main findings: 1) that spirituality can indeed be isolated as a dimension of religiosity independent of belief and practice; and 2) that identifying a structuralist vs. individualist approach to religious ethics is a promising approach for distinguishing progressive religiosity and avoiding conservative measurement bias inherent in such common measures as religious service attendance.

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  • The data for this presentation come from three unique sources: the General Social Survey, the 2007 Pew Religious Landscape Survey, and our firm’s Midwest Religion Survey conducted in 2009
  • At the conceptual level our first task was to determine how spirituality is different than religiosity. The question we asked ourselves was: Is spirituality fundamentally different than religiosity or is it just one component it of it?-Although this concept is not widely measured the GSS did include a spirituality self-identification measure. Fortunately it also included an identical measure of religiosity.-Each measure ranged from very religious/spiritual to not religious/spiritual at all.
  • -An quick look at the distribution suggest that these two measures are significantly. And this was confirmed by running a bivariate correlation.The two measures are significantly correlated at .577. -At a substantive point that it interesting: More Americans identify as a spiritual person than a religious person.
  • Returning to our original items that measured religiosity and spirituality separately we find further evidence that they are measuring distinct orientations.-We see that religiosity has a linear relationship to political ideology; spirituality is not linearly related with ideology. Liberals are on average more spiritual than moderates and conservatives are more spiritual than either.
  • Next, we combined these measures to create a single scale to enable us to take another look at the relationship between religious and spiritual identification.-If the respondent reported they were a moderate or very religious person they were classified as religious and if they reported being slightly or not at all religious they were classified as not religious. The spirituality measure was coded the same way.-This analysis shows only 13% of Americans are strictly spiritual but not religious. The majority of Americans report being both spiritual and religious.
  • The GSS also included a different measure of spirituality that required respondents to pick one of four categories exactly parallel to the categories we just created with one important difference: This variable defined what spirituality meant, an interest in the sacred and supernatural.-This formulation finds 22% of Americans identifying as spiritual and not religious;
  • A quick comparison between the two measures: our created measure and the defined measure show significant differences.-The defined measure finds more spiritual and not religious people and fewer religious and NOT spiritual.-Interestingly both measures find that roughly 6-in-10 Americans are spiritual.
  • The discrepancies between these two measures led us to believe that self-identification was perhaps not the best approach. We devised an alternative method that relied self-reported spiritual activities and experiences.-We used three different measures: frequency of feeling a sense of wonder about the universe, frequency of feeling a sense of spiritual peace and frequency of meditation.
  • While at first brush these measures seem consistent with our notion of spirituality, it was obviously necessary to test this supposition empirically.-We included 16 measures from the religious landscape survey (including our three spirituality measures) and conducted a factor analysis.-The results look promising. The spirituality items (in blue) loaded together as we would expect and did not load on either other factor.
  • The factor analysis discerned three different factors: Religious Practices, Religious Beliefs and Spirituality-The categories of practices, beliefs, and experience have a long history as distinct categories in the study of religion, with the category of experience often as the most controversial of the three. The factor analysis indicates that these categories have some empirical underpinning.
  • In order to determine how closely related spirituality was from religious practices and beliefs we ran some correlations.-We found that while religious practices and beliefs are significantly correlated both concepts as we measured them are not highly correlated with spirituality.-This provides additional evidence that we are measuring something distinct from religiosity.
  • A look at spirituality by religious tradition uncovers significant variation between different traditions.-Americans who identify as unaffiliated or jewish score lowest on our spirituality factor.-At the other end of the spectrum, Jehovah’s witnesses, Buddhists and Mormons are the most spiritual.
  • We saw earlier that the original GSS measure of spirituality was not linearly related to political ideology.-We see this same pattern repeated in our new measure; Liberals score slightly higher than moderates on the spirituality factor with conservatives still scoring highest.-There is a linear relationship between the religious practice and belief factor and political ideology.
  • So what have we learned?
  • Note that conservative religious activists often attend churches (e.g. evangelical churches) that offer more opportunities for and expect higher attendance rates than churches attended by progressive religious activists (e.g., Mainline Protestant churches). According to the 2007 National Congregations Study, nearly one-third (29%) of all congregations offer only one service per week, and these are more likely to be Mainline Protestant congregations (Chavez 2007).

New Measurement Strategies for Religion: Spirituality and Progressive Religiosity New Measurement Strategies for Religion: Spirituality and Progressive Religiosity Presentation Transcript

  • New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Spirituality and Progressive Religiosity
    American Association of Public Opinion Research
    May 13-16, 2010
  • New Strategies for Measuring Religion
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    2 of ##
    Part I: Measuring Spirituality
    Part II: Measuring Progressive Religiousity
  • Data Sources
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    3 of ##
    National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago:
    • General Social Survey (2008)
    Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:
    • Religious Landscape Survey (2007)
    Public Religion Research Institute:
    • Midwest Religion Survey (2009)
  • Method #1: Sorting Out “Spiritual” vs. “Religious” via Self-Identification
    Method #1: Self-Identification (GSS):
    To what extent do you consider yourself a spiritual person…
    Very spiritual
    Moderately spiritual
    Slightly spiritual or
    Not spiritual at all
    To what extent do you consider yourself a religious person…
    Very religious
    Moderately religious
    Slightly religious or
    Not religious at all
    4 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
  • Positive Correlation between “Spiritual” and “Religious”
    5 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: General Social Survey, 2008
    Significantly Correlated: .577 (P < .001)
  • Religiosity, Spirituality and Politics
    6 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Response Categories
    1=Not at all
    2=Slightly
    3=Moderately
    4=Very
    Source: General Social Survey, 2008
    Spirituality-Ideology Correlation: .139 (P < .001)
    Religiosity-Ideology Correlation: .269 (P < .001)
  • Combined Self-Identification Measures
    7 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: General Social Survey, 2008
  • Method #2: Sorting out “Spiritual” vs. “Religious” via Self-Description
    8 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: General Social Survey, 2008
  • Two Methods, Divergent Results
    9 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: General Social Survey, 2008
  • Method #3: A Spirituality Factor
    Presentation Title
    10 of ##
    Spirituality as Sensibility and Practice
    Analysis from the Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Survey
  • Practice, Belief, and Spirituality:A Factor Analysis
    11 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
  • Three Dimensions of Religion
    12 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
  • Correlations between Practices, Beliefs, and Spirituality
    13 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: Pew Forum, Religious Landscape Survey, 2007
  • Spirituality by Religious Affiliation
    14 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: Pew Forum, Religious Landscape Survey, 2007
  • Religious Beliefs, Practices and Spirituality by Political Ideology
    15 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: Religious Landscape Survey, 2007
  • Next Steps: Spirituality, Religion & Politics
    What we’ve learned:
    Spirituality seems to be an independent realm of religiosity with at least two components:
    Experiences such as a sense of awe and peacefulness
    The practice of meditation as distinct from prayer
    Unlike religious practice and belief, spirituality is not strongly associated with political ideology.
    Research to be done:
    Is there something about spirituality, such as a sense of connectedness and aversion to violence, that might correlate to stances on specific issues?
    For example, would higher spirituality correlate with support for environmentalism, support for social welfare programs, or multilateral diplomatic solutions in foreign policy?
    Is there something that can be understood as a uniquely spiritual experience?
    How do respondents distinguish between religious and spiritual experiences?
    What are other measurable spiritual practices that would be distinct from religious practices?
    16 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
  • Part II: Measuring Progressive Religiosity
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    17 of ##
    Challenges and Theories
  • Getting Beyond the Conservative Religion Bias
    Common Measures of religious conservatism/traditionalism:
    Practices:
    Frequency of attendance
    Frequency of prayer
    Beliefs:
    Belief in biblical literalism
    Belief in God
    Salience of religion
    The inverse of conservative religiosity on these axes is non-religiosity, NOT progressive religiosity.
    What’s needed: an independent measure of progressive religiosity.
    An approach: Shifting from measures of belief and practice to measures of religious ethics.
    18 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
  • Theorizing a Different Dimension: Structuralist & Individualist Orientations
    Qualitative research among nearly 100 progressive religious leaders points to the promise of distinguishing between a structuralist-individualist orientation as a means of differentiating between conservative and progressive religious orientations.
    Key point: not just individual charity but social justice.
    19 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    • “Not simply a matter of dealing with particular symptoms by extending kindness to a person in trouble, but repairing the world in order to establish conditions of justice…. Not simply dealing with people who are poor, but helping them avoid a situation in which poverty for them becomes inevitable.”
    -Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Union for Reform Judaism
  • Measuring Approaches to Religious Ethics
    20 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Midwest Religion Survey, 2009.
  • Exploratory Factor Analysis: Two Factors
    21 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Midwest Religion Survey, 2009.
  • Correlations of Structuralist and Individualist Orientations
    22 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Midwest Religion Survey, 2009.
  • Structuralist-Individualist Orientation by Religious affiliation
    23 of ##
    Presentation Title
  • Structuralist and Individualist Factors by Party Identification
    24 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion
    Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Midwest Religion Survey, 2009.
  • Next Steps: Measuring Progressive Religiosity
    What we’ve learned:
    Progressive religiosity is not the inverse of conservative religiosity.
    Measuring approaches to religious ethics, between structuralist and individualist orientations, is a promising way forward for differentiating between progressive and conservative religiosity.
    Research to be done:
    Our analysis revealed two, rather than one, dimensions to the structuralist-individualist orientation to religious ethics. What’s going on there?
    Do these orientations look significantly different outside the Midwest or at the national level?
    Are there better measures of structuralist-individualist orientations?
    25 of ##
    New Measurement Strategies for Religion