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Believing, Bonding, Behaving, and Belonging : The Big Four Religious Dimensions and Cultural Variation
Vassilis Saroglou Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 2011 42: 1320 originally published online 2 September 2011 DOI: 10.1177/0022022111412267 The online version of this article can be found at: http://jcc.sagepub.com/content/42/8/1320
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urnal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Believing, Bonding, Behaving, and Belonging: The Big Four Religious Dimensions and Cultural Variation
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(8) 1320–1340 © The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permission: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0022022111412267 jccp.sagepub.com
Abstract When approaching religion from a cross-cultural psychological perspective, one faces questions regarding the universals and the specifics of religions across cultural contexts. On the basis of previous theorization and research, the author proposes a model that posits four basic dimensions of religion and individual religiosity that are partially distinct although interconnected: believing, bonding, behaving, and belonging. These dimensions are presumably universally present across religions and cultural contexts and delimitate religion from other similar constructs. They reflect distinct psychological processes (cognitive, emotional, moral, and social), respective goals, conversion motives, types of self-transcendence, and mechanisms explaining the religion-health links. However, across cultural and religious groups, these dimensions may differ in content, salience, and ways in which they are interconnected or emphasized, leading to various forms of religiosity, including functional and dysfunctional ones. Within each dimension, there is additional universality (in structure) and cultural variability (in salience) regarding the way religious cognitions, emotions, morality, and identity are processed. This Big Four religious dimensions model may be a powerful tool for studying universals and cultural specifics of the psychological dimensions of religion. Keywords religious differences, religious universals, religious dimensions, cultural influences, spirituality One is often impressed by the immense variability in religious expressions across historical periods, cultures, groups, and individuals. There have been dozens of religions and hundreds of independent religious groups in human history. However, about 72% of today’s world population seems to belong to four major religions—that is, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism (Barrett, 2001). As is the case with many psychological constructs (Norenzayan & Heine, 2005), it seems reasonable to presume that there should be both universals and cultural
Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Corresponding Author: Vassilis Saroglou, Université catholique de Louvain, Department of Psychology, Place du Cardinal Mercier 10, B 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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and outcomes of religion and personal religiosity should vary as a function of cultural (e. At the same time.g. 2005). Schoenrade. Of course. Pargament. including both religious and nonreligious people. it has been found that people differ with respect to their motivations to be religious. 2007). Religion as a Unified But Multidimensional Construct One of the issues psychological research has constantly dealt with in the past decades has to do with determining the major components. the different religious dimensions being in fact importantly interrelated (Tsang & McCullough. Downloaded from jcc. At second glance. with people differing with respect to the presence and intensity of such a tendency. degree of democratization. social-cognitive styles of dealing with religious ideas (symbolic thinking. there is also evidence that religion is a multifacet reality and that religiosity can also be conceived as a multidimensional construct (Hill. Religion is what humans do in reference to what they consider as (an external) transcendence. Batson. dimensions. for a review). spiritual traditions).1 There is a large array of religious aspects and dimensions that can be distinguished following a variety of classification criteria (for previous classifications of dimensions and corresponding measures. In psychological research. one may treat religion as a unidimensional construct. & Hutsebaut.. Meador. This is more evident when focusing on religious people.d. civilization zone).Saroglou 1321 specifics to religion and individual religiosity.g. Hill & Hood. wars. 1999). However. as it will be argued here. it promises to be useful for the detection and understanding of the psychological specifics of religion and religiosity across different religious and cultural contexts. treating religiosity as a unidimensional construct has provided solid findings. Distinguishing between different religious aspects. Because these processes can reasonably be suspected to be universally present. Hill. Duriez. and religious contexts.g. Hill. Sociologists of religion have typically distinguished between beliefs. & Williamson. universals should also be present in religion across historical. Fontaine. These classifications denote specific psychological processes. ecological (e. 1967). This is especially the case with data coming from the general population. see Hall. & Koenig.g. life trajectories and underlying processes leading to religion (religious socialization versus emotionbased conversion.g. and affiliation (or identification) (Voas. 1980). which may be either intrinsic or extrinsic (Allport & Ross. Hood. Moreover. and religiosity is the corresponding individual differences construct.. a practice that has been adopted in large international studies (see Billiet. Lonner. specific events).. predictors.sagepub. climate. historical (e. 2005). in press. beyond evidence for overarching unidimensionality. 1997). cultural. 1999).. ethnicity. wealth) factors. positive versus negative religious coping styles. Luyten. as well as factors specific to religious and denominational differences (e. often constant across studies. At first glance. religions. Granqvist & Hagekull. social equality. and socioeconomic (e. to the point that some aspects of human psychology and specific psychological processes are common to human species (Brown. There is indeed strong evidence for the presence of a higherorder factor of religiosity—that is. 2005). 1991. degree of (in)dependence from established religious traditions and institutions (modern spirituality versus traditional religiosity. geography).. and the emotional quality of being religious and using religion (e. empires. institutional structures. practices (or behavior). & Ventis. Zinnbauer & Pargament. 2003. orthodoxy. the very specific forms. 2008. religion-as-quest..g. dimensions. Furthermore.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. 2005). or forms provides nuanced information on how religion works in individuals’ lives (Hill. positive versus negative disposition toward religion. language. fundamentalism. 2012 . nations. or forms of religion and individual religiosity. theology. it cannot be excluded that these religious dimensions may be found across various religious and cultural contexts. 2005. 2003). 1993.). and cultural contexts (Saroglou & Cohen. n.
and (d) are good candidates to study cultural variability in religion. extrinsic religion may be less or not relevant in highly secularized societies where being religious can mostly be thought as an intrinsically motivated attitude. corresponding psychological dimensions (believing. Ghorpade. other religious dimensions and corresponding measures (see also Cutting & Walsh. III: moral rules. this four-dimension model can be heuristically rich for additional reasons: It nicely encompasses—integrates or summarizes—other models of religious dimensions. Previous theorizing in both psychology and sociology of religion has distinguished between three to six aspects of religion and respective dimensions of religiosity. Catholics. although it has been argued that spirituality may be a universal dimension of human existence (Dy-Liacco. for a review). implying (at least partially) distinct psychological processes. & Meador.g. 2008. as identified and studied in psychological research. & Soenens. Of course. we will argue that a good candidate to fulfill these objectives is a model that distinguishes between four components of religion (I: beliefs.” “religious social support. (b) are not unique to particular religious traditions and do not simply translate theological positions. for a review). (c) can be conceived. They focus. and IV: community/group). Rodgerson. Similarly. 1999.” “sanctification” of different life domains). 2012 . Across these theoretical Downloaded from jcc.1322 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(8) important culture-related issues are raised. religious maturity. as well as the variation in the processes explaining the positive and negative effects of religion on individual and social functioning. and it offers a meaningful organization to the variation in religious forms within each dimension. Piedmont. Murray-Swank. taken alone. (c) can serve to study both universals and specifics across religions and cultures. 2008. for instance. However. 2010. there is a need to distinguish between basic dimensions of religion/religiosity that (a) are psychologically informed (point to psychological constructs and processes). II: rituals/emotions. & Sherman. behaving. specific religious practices. Lens. the distinction between the intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientations has been found among Protestants. Orthodox. and belonging). especially in the field of cultural and cross-cultural psychology. none of the above elements is new. for more recent measures) mix aspects of religiosity itself with possible outcomes or correlates of religion (e.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. Muslims. How can an individual be autonomous in spiritual issues when belonging to a collectivistic society? Other aspects—and corresponding measures—of religion. as religious universals. 2005.sagepub. bonding. among the Chinese (Shek. exerting self-control to behave morally. methodological and theoretical problems arise when studying spirituality. 2009). the content validity and the cross-religious/cultural validity of the existing measures of these orientations have been seriously questioned (Cohen. Moreover. predictors. both in terms of presence and functional equivalence. Moreover. across religious and cultural contexts. A Model of Big Four Religious Dimensions For psychological research. “spiritual well-being. However. and ways in which they are inter-related. modes of expression. (b) translate major distinct dimensions of individual religiosity. and consequences. and belonging to a transhistorical group that solidifies collective self-esteem and ingroup identification). and psychological functions (looking for meaning and the truth. experiencing self-transcendent emotions. and (d) offer discriminant validity between each other. for instance. In the present work. and faith development (see Hill & Hood. are more religiously/theologically oriented. on specific God concepts. Jews. For instance. Lackritz. They can thus be importantly marked by a specific religious and cultural tradition and may not be transposable to other religious and cultural contexts. 2010). Hall. our specific argument will be that the above four dimensions (a) are basic components delimitating religion from proximal constructs. Neyrinck. and Buddhists (see Flere & Lavrič. & Moore. Koenig. 2010). since they differ across contexts in intensity.. Vansteenkiste. Finally.
label. 2001). Hinde (1999) added the idea that religion is typically characterized by the integration of these major components into a well-organized set. Universal Dimensions and Functions Believing. There is a huge diversity in the way people across cultures and religions conceive and objectify what they think transcends humans and their world. A notable sociologist of religion. practice (or behavior). A set of some or many beliefs relative to what many people consider as being an (external) transcendence—and its “connection” with humans and the world—is a basic universal component of religion. emotions) with counterintuitive elements such as omniscience. this sociological taxonomy focuses on external manifestations of religiosity (adherence to beliefs. without necessarily citing each other’s. or impersonal forces or principles. 2007). Initially. nonpersonal divinities. frequency of practice. or Glock’s and Verbit’s. Table 2 presents our model that integrates and extends previous work and provides a further framework for cross-cultural research on religion. Below. Finally.Saroglou 1323 suggestions. and affiliation or degree of identification) rather than internal dynamics (see below). work. Glock (1962) and Verbit (1970) distinguished between five or six dimensions (each of our Dimensions I and II is split into two distinct dimensions). Voas. Afterwards. people endorse impersonal conceptions of transcendence: 33% of the Europeans believe that “there is some sort of spirit or life force”—in addition to 41% who believe in a personal God (Halman. intermediate divine-like beings are present (Atran & Norenzayan. Later. Even in “godless” religions such as Buddhism. 2004). This can include one or several gods and divine beings. is a good candidate for studying religious universals as well as variations within and between religions/cultures. n. Yet in other contexts. more generally. nonreligious.” In addition. These supernatural agents combine human-like characteristics (intellect. Hervieu-Léger (1999) made significant advancements. data from large international sociological studies suggest the usefulness of a parsimonious model distinguishing between beliefs. Atran and Norenzayan (2004. the second axis contrasts ethics with community. there is some variability in the number. human-like beings.sagepub. Most world religions include the belief in a personal god or. and Pargament (2003) suggested that five dimensions (very close to those described by Verbit—morality was not included) could be helpful for studying cultural variability on religion. but there is also a striking consistency in favor of our preference for four components and dimensions (see Table 1).. see also Boyer.2 Downloaded from jcc. researchers proposed similar classifications. or “body” transformation (Boyer. 2001) advanced ideas from evolutionary psychology that are in favor of some “naturalness” and universality of the major aspects of religion across religions and societies. Tarakeshwar. belief in some kind of transcendence is connected with people’s meaning-making process (Park. as it will be argued. Hervieu-Léger (1999) suggested a normative qualification of such integration: Religion works well if all four components are taken into account. Stanton. and specific subcomponents of these dimensions. She proposed that four major dimensions can be organized as the poles of two bipolar and orthogonal axes. The first axis contrasts emotions with what she calls “culture” (corresponding to beliefs and intellectual and symbolic heritage). and affiliation (or identification) (Billiet.d. the idea that “something larger and more important than me and the community of all humans (should) exist(s). omnipresence. The above elements constitute a key difference between (a) being atheist. 2012 . 2005). 2001). or nonspiritual and (b) being religious and/or spiritual. Beyond these differences. However. a universal dimension of religiosity is the belief in some kind of external transcendence—that is.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. we will discuss this model that. such as nontheistic spirituality.
(2003) Atran & Norenzayan (2004) Voas (2008) and Europ.sagepub. 6 combinations An integrated set Moral codes Social aspects Tarakeshwar et al.com by Aras Roxana on October 9.1324 Hervieu-Léger (1999) Hinde (1999) Culture Emotions Ethics Community Social Cultural/religious variation 2 bipolar axes. Survey Beliefs Practice/behavior Beliefs Narratives Ritual Ideological Intellectual Experiential Ritualistic Counterintuitive beliefs Relief from negative emotions Costly commitments Ritualized communion Evolutionary hypotheses Affiliation/identity Parsimony. Previous Descriptions of the Major Aspects and Dimensions of Religion Four basic dimensions Glock (1962) Verbit (1970) I II III IV Ideological Intellectual Experiential Ritualistic Consequential Doctrine Knowledge Emotion Ritual Ethics Community Downloaded from jcc. 2012 Advances . Soc. international data Table 1.
Behaving IV. Also. wellbeing Self-control Social enhancement 9. contemporarily. 1325 . and cultures. across time. Believing II. 2012 a.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. Bonding III. Transcendencea 6. Cultural and religious variation: (a) within individuals and groups. motives for conversion. (b) across individuals. Belonging Beliefs Emotions Morality Identity Dogmas Rituals Norms Groups Downloaded from jcc. An Integrative Model of the Major Aspects and Dimensions of Religion 4. groups. Dynamics of Variationb Literal vs. symbolic Negative vs.Table 2. Goals 7.sagepub. Risks Dogmatism Neurotic R Rigorism Prejudice Truth Awe Virtue Totality Intellectual Experiential Moral Social Intellectualization Mysticism Moralization Rel. as identity 5. Products I. Dimensions 2. inclusive 1. positive Self. b. other-focused Exclusive vs.vs. Isolation’s Consequences 8. Aspects 3. Health-Related Processes Meaning Emotion.
2000). Buxant. or at least a significant correspondence.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. Vilchinsky & Kravetz.g. Most often. processes. 2012 . & Saroglou. Nevertheless. 2007). if performed correctly. values that are privileged by religion (Saroglou. and/or with the inner-self. 2009. Even today. Antonovsky. Bonding. 2003. which motivates a magical-thinking-based ritual. and cultures is the emotional self-transcendence people experience (or look for) through religious rituals and the interindividual variability in frequency and intensity of these experiences. Historically. religions. Moreover. or pilgrims). & Goch. a magical function: They are (were) accomplished with the conviction or hope that thoughts and acts. it is under the emotional function of religion that the ritual(istic) dimension fits best. gesture. Iweins. this occurs within a ritualized framework.1326 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(8) Moreover. There is of course an enormous diversity of religious rituals that have more specific and distinct functions. between religion’s morality and the environing society’s moral standards. Awe—the emotion of respectful admiration when facing a higher. Religion is not only about beliefs but also includes self-transcendent experiences that bond the individual with what it perceives to be the transcendent “reality. The point here is that what is possibly universally common across rituals. From our perspective. Tiliouine & Belgoumidi. here we group attitudes. This is reminiscent of the classic phenomenological definition of religious experience as combining tremendum and fascinans components (Otto. more important. is a self-transcendent emotion. but not self-worth (Van Cappellen. Delpierre. ideology. & Christians. far removed from the search for experiencing selftranscendent emotions. Some theorists conceive the emotional and ritualistic dimensions of religion to be distinct from each other (see Table 1).sagepub. and (b) knowledge and intellectual aspects as in some of the previous models (see Table 1). Indeed. Buxant.” with others. at first glance. but not necessarily sermons or teachings. trust of others and the world. There is also experimental evidence in favor of the opposite causal link: Induction of awe (with nature or childbirth) increases spirituality (Saroglou. among others. the believing dimension not only implies specific (religious) beliefs and religionbased meaning-making processes but also implies some affinities between being religious and holding other beliefs such as basic world assumptions (e. Rituals often have (or had). 2003). A second dimension of religion is the emotional dimension. 2010). religious ceremonies. Verkasalo. Casalfiore. the objective is to connect with a deeper reality that transcends the everyday reality and the self. 2009). especially just-world beliefs (e. correspond to specific moments in life trajectories and specific life events. to some extent. all religious rituals include some forms of chanting. 2008) and facilitates spiritual behavioral intentions and spirituality-related feelings among religious people (Van Cappellen & Saroglou. 2005). and acting. & Dernelle. the same as values that are socially desirable (Schwartz. A pragmatic search for magical efficiency through rituals may thus seem. frequent and regular. Note that rather than distinguishing between (a) doctrine. This has been found to hold for various religions (Saroglou. & Downloaded from jcc. 2004) are. within secularized societies. this is a priori understandable. or exceptional. religion provides specific norms and moral arguments defining right and wrong from a religious perspective. there has been an overlap. and elicit various emotions that possibly differ with each experience. 1923). Lipkus. In addition.. be it private (prayer and meditation) or public (worship. 2001) and beliefs in the meaningfulness of the world and of personal life (Park. & Tilquin. This is mediated by the increase in endorsing specific world beliefs—that is. Sallay.. looking for a higher order factor. Behaving. or deeper reality—may be a prototype of emotions elicited within a religious context (Keltner & Haidt. Even in selforiented spiritual practices such as meditation. and products that have to do with the cognitive function of religion. Dalbert. Saroglou. The existence of religious rituals and the experience of related emotions seem rather universal across cultures and religions. 2005).g. hope. may influence other parts of the external reality without physical contact (see Woolley. Religion not only is particularly concerned with morality as an external correlate but also includes morality as one of its basic dimensions.
They include some kind of authority (person. in both individualistic and collectivistic societies (Saroglou & Cohen. A recent study on U. For instance. and collective emotions.Saroglou 1327 Sagiv. and profit from a social identity. & Lerner. it posits higher moral standards than those of the environing society such as altruistic sacrifice. but not necessarily those that put an emphasis on individual autonomy and societal change (Graham & Haidt. at the individual level. 2009).” is also a basic dimension of individual religiosity. They may thus be unique as groups by perceiving themselves as fully transhistorical. religious identification with a major tradition. citizens’ moral reactions relative to decisions of the Supreme Court showed that general moral conviction and religious conviction lead to divergent reactions (Skitka. 2010. The fourth dimension of religiosity—that is.sagepub. Sport has its own rituals. in conflict with adults’ (religious) norms (Turiel. and shared as normative within the framework of religious communities. across historical periods and geographical contexts. Bing. 2009). This may explain why there is typically an affinity between personal religiosity and collectivism. The community and moral dimensions. and nonharm appear very early in childhood (at the age of 3 years) and are independent from. Peltzer. discussed. but they lack the emotional/ritual dimension required to become a religion. 2010).S. are missing from paranormal beliefs. Furthermore. First. Schwartz & Huismans.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. religious groups. but it may be quite difficult to detect the religious characteristics of this dimension comparatively to that belonging related to any kind of group or community. Green.. 1995). Belonging. studies on children’s moral development suggest that the universal moral principles of justice. Bauman. for review). Moreover. 2007. Guerra & Giner-Sorolla. a point of reference for what is normative and provides validation for what is new. 2010. and be perceived by others as. Kristel. However. in press. a denomination. Such a dynamic may be helpful to maintain cohesiveness and enhance a positive social identity and collective self-esteem. Dimensions delimitating religion from related constructs. equity. 1993. process. rituals/emotions. Religious communities present additional characteristics. Moreover. For instance. Second.. 1997). 2004. 2003).. symbol. or strong self-control of impulsivity-related behaviors (Saroglou. but beliefs are weak and certainly do not extend to the “big” human questions. religious beliefs. in press). & Novicivec. Ammeter. Finally. and moral rules are organized.g. humility. paranormal beliefs share with religion the belief in extrahuman entities as well as a propensity for magical. if necessary. Davison. or even. communities. Elson. intuitive. and traditions constitute just one of many possibilities people have to satisfy their need to belong. there is an overall positive association between religiosity and willingness to be. or institution) that is. The four components allow us to delimitate religion from other similar social and psychological domains. Saroglou et al. Art and music imply their own rituals and aesthetic emotions. Similarly. hold. religion provides taboos—that is. & Lytle. similar to the connection between religiosity and the belief in the meaningfulness of life and the world. Indeed. Religious communities also include narratives and/or symbols that purport to unify a glorious past with the present and a glorious and eternal future. visiting a medium). philosophical systems share with religion an interest in existential questions and a propensity for integrative intellectual systems. communities. or self-identifying as a “believer” or a “spiritual person. These are values that help enhance social order and reciprocity in altruism. absolute values that cannot be traded off (Tetlock. or a specific group. 2012 . They both also include some ritual (e. possibly having consequences for morality. however. probably help in a Downloaded from jcc. belonging—is perhaps the most obvious to observe. consulting horoscopes. religious and societal moralities are also distinct and partially independent from one another. to some extent. and holistic rather than analytic thinking (Aarnio & Lindeman. 2000) and are often connected with the need for purity and the respect of the divinity (Graham & Haidt. religion proposes additional norms of at least two kinds. Garner. Vitell. moral and virtuous (Batson et al. 2006).
and are shared by group members. is also a simple reflection of strong versus weak proreligious attitudes or dispositions (see Tsang & McCullough.. especially when administered to a population with a high variability of religiosity (i. emotions. and may also include some community spirit.. shame. practices.e. aiming thus to experience “totality. a key characteristic of these four religious dimensions is that they are inter-related. Finally..” “affectional. 2007). they are emotionally celebrated through rituals. emotional.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. even though they are intended to measure distinct religious dimensions. and social (belonging to a cultural group with a glorious history and ambitious future goals). politics. community. but not on God knowing how to repair their car). column 4). Indeed. and eternal future. moral (willingness to achieve irreproachable virtue). and pride). independently of its specific content.” and “coercive” conversions (see also work by Hervieu-Léger.g.. In addition. religion implies four kinds of self-transcendence (see Table 2. ethics do not belong at the core business of art. 1999). This would be trivial. guilt. Nevertheless. greatly intercorrelated.” Consequently. and moral rules coalesce to form a more or less integrated set (Hinde. family. and increase a group’s cohesiveness and identification.” (II) experiencing self-transcendence (“awe” being a prototype emotion) through private and/or public rituals. 2012 . Stiles. since many social realities (e.sagepub.g. and outcomes. affinities with specific personality traits). & Krause.” “revivalistic. which more clearly depends on personal religiosity and religious beliefs than public religious practice (e. purification) activating self-conscious emotions (e. An interesting example is the variety of motives that lead to religious conversion. This is probably attributable to the intrinsic character of the believing dimension.” and (IV) belonging to groups whose quality is the integration between a (glorious) past. including both religious and nonreligious individuals). It is reasonable to expect the four dimensions to be interrelated to a significant degree. religion implies (I) meaning-making by aiming to find the “truth. rituals. whereas practicing in contexts with social pressure may reflect extrinsic motivations. Downloaded from jcc. 2010. As noted earlier. column 5): intellectual (ideas relative to the big existential issues).g. emotions.g. lead to willingness to morally behave in accordance with these beliefs and emotions. A classic model in the psychology of conversion (Lofland & Skonovd. religious measures are most often.” “experiential. beliefs. rituals simultaneously play a role in activating specific emotions expected to be in accordance with the corresponding religious beliefs. 2003). Similarly. However. 1999). beliefs.. Affirming the co-presence of the four dimensions in religion is more subtle and specific than simply stating that there exist cognitive. however. and culture) also imply the co-existence and integration of these four dimensions. Smith. Markstrom. This is primarily because every religious measure. confession. have a strong moral connotation (people are interested in God knowing what is right for them. Interrelations and distinctiveness. underlying psychological processes (e. 2009).g. present. God is forgiveness) and rituals (e. For instance. moral decisions to change one’s own behavior are amplified through special beliefs (e. Another interesting example is religious prosociality. Huey.g. This is because in religion.. work. 1981) distinguishes between six different pathways leading to religious conversion that can be read in light of our four basic dimensions: “intellectual. religious beliefs are not simple cognitions contributing to meaning-making processes. probably because of the direct effect of religious preaching and demand for charity during religious rituals (Bekkers & Wiepking. (III) taking decisions and behaving in a way to achieve “virtue. moral.1328 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(8) meaning-making process. It is the specific goals that qualify these four dimensions as religious (see Table 2.” “mystical.. donation and philanthropy are better correlated with public religious practice than personal religiosity and beliefs. and social elements within religion. experiential (awe with respect to a larger and more important reality). and affiliation—our alliterative four basic dimensions—are distinct religious dimensions that should differ in terms of their predictors.
g. 2009).g.Saroglou 1329 Cultural and Religious Variation Content variability within each dimension. although little is known about the cultural determinisms associated with this variability. We know. 1959. Religious communities may be small or large in size. Consequences of monotheism compared to polytheism have been largely discussed. Interesting cultural variability exists in the content of specific religious beliefs. 2007) may prove to be particularly fruitful for understanding religious variations in morality. contemporary self-help books.. However. judgments. & Cherfas. However. These differences were consistent across old fundamental texts (Gospels and Lotus Sutra).. in collectivistic societies people may need to practice meditation and experience interiority in order to transcend group barriers and focus on the individual self. exclusive or inclusive in membership. anthropological evidence suggests some correspondence between cultures with benevolent versus malevolent divinities and supportive versus rejecting parental educational styles (Lambert. For instance. more likely than European Canadians to attribute events to fate. whereas in others violence of all kinds is prohibited. thus endorsing unconditional forgiveness to a lesser degree (Mullet & Azar. To give another example. 2006). and specific beliefs is an issue worthy of full investigation. belief in God (Norenzayan & Lee. The former is believed to have contributed to rationality and modern progress (Stark. & Wolf. Miao. religion. Buddhist. internet based) and symbolic in constitution. wars are justified in some religions. Hindu.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. feelings. Christians reported more love. socioeconomic. people may need collective rituals to transcend the self’s limits and isolation and experience collective emotions of belonging to larger groups. being particularly sensitive to the offender’s apologies and demonstration of repentance. calm) are valued more in Buddhism compared to Christianity. although forgiveness is highly valued across the major religions. excitement) are valued less and low arousal positive states (e. Kim-Prieto and Diener (2009. Rohner. 2012 . 2003) but is also suspected of dogmatism and intolerance (Assmann. Does this variation have to do with group differences in personality traits among the respective ethnic groups and nations? Is it due to different forms of moral reasoning. strict or weak in affiliation/identification. Finally. and Jewish participants from about 40 nations on the frequency with which they experience nine discrete emotions. and Seppala (2007) found that high arousal positive states (e. old or new in history. whereas Muslims more sadness and shame. but for religious reasons—that is.sagepub. These studies suggest that religious preferences for specific emotions may parallel cultural specifics in emotions. Again..g. there exists no systematic comparative psychological research providing empirical confirmation of these hypotheses. there is impressive variability in the forms of religious groups and religious identification. 2010). Muslim. Protestants’ religiosity more strongly reflects the importance to forgive even “unforgivable” (for Jews) offenses (Cohen. EastAsian Canadians were found to be. Christians. and educational factors? Emerging research on cultural influences on morality (see Miller. Rozin. For instance. compared to the nonreligious. Triandis. Much more research in this area Downloaded from jcc. and behaviors. For instance. in fact. one cannot exclude the alternative idea that religious emotions complement what culture emphasizes in emotions. In individualistic cultures. There is also considerable cultural and religious variability in the rituals that are privileged across groups and the specific emotions that are elicited. for cultural reasons having to do with the perception of causality. For example. there is some interesting variability among religious/cultural contexts in the way religion and religiosity are linked to moral values. 2009). Tsai. which are partly influenced by sociocultural. Malka. Study 1) compared Christian. 1975). almost nothing about how such cross-religious differences in morality can be explained by cultural factors. and real or virtual (e. The interplay between culture. and reports of practitioners from the two religions. did the same. horizontal or vertical in structure. And Muslims seem to differ from Christians living in the same country (Lebanon). compared to Jews.
depending on the excessiveness or not of the investment on one of the four dimensions Downloaded from jcc. For instance. active. We also presented evidence for cultural and religious variability regarding the content of beliefs. & Markus. An intriguing hypothesis is that the more religions have evolved toward organized monotheistic systems. within the same religion. A complementary way to examine the distinctiveness of the four religious dimensions and their usefulness for cross-cultural psychological research is to compare the salience of the different dimensions within religions. and identity are interconnected (or ideally expected to do so). and the moral dimension to be salient in the context of conservative U. There should also be cultural variation within religions and religious groups as a function of the historical context. 1993) or may belong without believing or behaving (Marchisio & Pisati. There is initial empirical evidence in favor of such an assumption. 2002) may turn out to be responsible for weaker interconnections between the four religious dimensions when one compares Eastern to Western religiosity. 1994) or behaving (see the religious moral hypocrisy issue. norms. there may be important differences. morally concerned gods—something that is less typical in Eastern cultures. Variation on salience and interrelations of the four dimensions. Cross-sectionally. This is a totally unexplored research area for cross-cultural psychology and the comparative psychology of religion. Dennett & LaScola. and comparing Eastern countries (Japan.sagepub. 1999) or finally may behave without believing or belonging (see a recent interview study on nonbeliever priests. Suh. Cross. Analyzing data from dozens of countries. As it will be presented in the following three subsections. rituals/emotions. 2001. & Anisman. people (here Christians) may believe without belonging (Davie. (b) emotional self-transcendence. 1990. Not only may there be interesting Eastern-Western differences in the strength of the interrelations between the four dimensions. we can suspect the social dimension to be highly present in Orthodox religiosity in Balkan countries as well as among Israeli Jews. the forms religiosity takes may (a) be functional or dysfunctional. regarding (a) meaning and truth. 2007). Forms of Religiosity: Universals and Variations Up to now. The weaker motivation for consistency characterizing Eastern compared to Western cultures (Kanagawa.. having shifted its focus from religious morality and beliefs to placing a larger emphasis on emotional religious experiences (Champion & Hervieu-Léger. conscious.1330 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(8) comes from sociology of religion (Beckford & Demerath. morality. emotions. the more religious beliefs. Stark (2001) found that religion has the effect of sustaining moral order only as far as religion is based on belief in powerful. but cultural factors could also at least partially explain how. the intensity of each religious dimension.S. Religions and cultures may also differ in the way the four dimensions are inter-related. Psychological studies investigating the social dimension of religious identity have been sparse (but see Ysseldyk.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. 2010). India. and the strength of the interconnection between them. 2012 . 2010). and groups. 2010). Riis & Woodhead. and (d) belonging to transhistorical groups. religiosity of Western Catholics has changed in the past 50 years. we advocated for the universality of four basic religious dimensions and their functional equivalence. Batson et al. the believing dimension to be salient in traditional liberal Protestantism. or China) with Western ones. Protestants. the emotional dimension to be particularly invested among Western Buddhists (see the meditation practice). the model of the Big Four religious dimensions may also be a powerful tool for understanding and integrating the large individual and collective variability of forms of religion. denominations. Matheson. across cultures and religions. As it will be detailed in the next to last section. (c) self-control in morality. or groups and to compare different religious communities on the mean importance of each dimension. taking the risk to be too global. For instance.
moral rules. for a previous proposal). and groups of belonging. the link between (some forms of) spirituality and morality has been questioned Downloaded from jcc. This could lead to religious forms and expressions that may be dysfunctional. 2008). for instance. 2007).. 1999. or social dimension alone can thus lead. emotional. A six-form religious typology. column 8). (II) positive emotions and experiences such as joy. 2012 . 1999. 2005). it will be argued that. 2005). We argue that religious individuals and religious/cultural groups often differ in emphasizing two of the four dimensions. at least partially. to religious forms and expressions that are marked by excessive (I) intellectualization. Finally. moral. optimism. 1996)— (II) neurotic religion. 1988). at least for society (see Table 2. the structural variability of these religious forms may be universal.. and (IV) a sense of belonging. (c) key dynamics internal to each of the four dimensions constitute additional sources of variability of religious forms. Indeed. explain the link between religion and mental and physical health (see Table 2. These are. (III) moral rigorism such as the casuistic forms of Christianity in the 16th-17th centuries (Jonsen & Toulmin. if not for the individual. Atran & Norenzayan. Krause & Wulff. On the positive side. In addition. and regulation of negative emotions (Watts. it may often occur that one specific component is excessively invested to the detriment of others. Therefore. 2004. helps religion to be successful and dynamic and to encompass large segments of society. An interesting typology of religious expressions may be obtained through the various possible combinations of two of the four poles (see Hervieu-Léger. across cultural groups. to delimitate it from proximal constructs but. 2005). one can also find here four important mechanisms that are known to. column 7). 2007. emotions. unjustified certainty regarding some beliefs even in the face of disconfirming evidence (Altemeyer. a typology of six religious forms and expressions is suggested (see Table 3). Miner. (III) self-control and healthy lifestyles (McCullough & Willoughby. 2009). when trying to define religion. 2005).g. 2009) as well as benefits from prosocial dispositions and behavior (Steffen & Masters.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. respectively by dimension. Hinde.sagepub. (I) dogmatism—that is. respectively for each of the four dimensions: (I) the meaning-making process and the belief in meaningfulness of the world and life (Park. It also may (b) simply vary on tonality depending on the preference given on the combination of two out of the four dimensions (a six-religious form typology will thus be described).Saroglou 1331 at the detriment of the other three. (II) mysticism. These forms are to be seen not as strictly distinct categories (all four dimensions are present in any religious form) but as six prototypes. Hervieu-Léger. on guilt and fear of divine punishment (Loewenthal. attachment security or securing in the context of previous attachment insecurity (Buxant et al.. 2007. and emotional well-being (Fredrickson. column 6). 2009). A preferential emphasis on believing in and bonding with transcendence is at the heart of spirituality. In fact. based. 1999). collective self-esteem. be it within or outside religious traditions and institutions (see Dy-Liacco et al. and (IV) prejudice toward outgroups and groups that threaten religious values (Hunsberger & Jackson. These are (see Table 2. The co-presence of the four components is not only needed. but there exists cultural variability on the salience of each form. or a strictly (IV) identitarian form of religion. respectively. Functional and dysfunctional religion. (III) moralization. Overemphasis on the cognitive. and social support (Greenfield & Marks. At the individual level. there are dysfunctional ways of dealing with religious beliefs. each emphasizing in a stronger way two of the four dimensions. 2002). according to several theorists (e.
and more tolerant of alternative views. Finally. & Spilka. and symbols in a (a) literal. Investing in the emotional and the community dimensions of religion seems typical of charismatic religion (Champion & Hervieu-Léger. Experiencing strong emotions of connection with the transcendence and. Religious people may hold positive versus negative God representations Downloaded from jcc. emotions. Indeed. and/or lead to negative emotions (e. reverence. anger) or positive emotions (e. and community type. be it a personal deity. 2005. less dogmatic in endorsing beliefs. beliefs. at the same time exerting strong self-control in order to access purity and virtue. Protestantism. anxiety. for instance. Sullivan.g. in the last 50 years. joy) (Emmons. or the opposite. interesting cultural variability exists across or within religions. fear. under the influence of cultural factors. and/or autonomous way.. groups. Bellah. creationism has been progressively abandoned within European Catholicism. 2007). religions by being less systematic in the belief system. & Tipton. groups.. impersonal forms of transcendence.. monasticism has given priority to rituals and morality over theology and social insertion. characterizes the ascetic form of religiosity. 1985) and its link with institutions and groups may be weak (Zinnbauer & Pargament. Swidler. sadness. 2005). awe. but it has increased in the context of U. where belonging and practicing is equally valued and normative (see Cohen et al. the degree of salience these dimensions have within and across groups.. 2005). other kinds of divinities. rules. including at the individual level of religiosity. but also the specific way individuals. Internal dynamics within each dimension. Buddhism and Eastern religions are perceived to differ from monotheistic. of religiosity that seems. 2005). Orthodoxy cannot be thought outside established and structured groups. flexible/questing.. For instance. mostly Western-world-based. but not necessarily of Jewish ones. The believing dimension can mainly be characterized by holding religious ideas. emphasis on morality (be it oriented toward humanitarian causes or toward self-control) that is animated by the religious tradition is a key feature of religious moral communities—that is. The bonding dimension is mainly qualified by the specific emotional quality that individuals. from more fundamentalist to more symbolic forms. 1990).sagepub.g. Religious Forms/Expressions Resulting From the Combination of Two Dimensions Combinations of Dimensions I & II: Believing + Bonding I & III: Believing + Behaving I & IV: Believing + Belonging II & III: Bonding + Behaving II & IV: Bonding + Belonging III & IV: Behaving + Belonging Forms/Expressions Spirituality Intrinsic religion Orthodox groups Asceticism Charismatic communities Moral communities (e. in other words. result from. and cultures experience through the connection with the transcendence. Madsen. dogmatic. normative of Protestant cultural contexts. 2012 .1332 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(8) Table 3. Hill.g. religious groups oriented to either liberal (social activists) or conservative moral objectives (rigorists).com by Aras Roxana on October 9. Emphasizing beliefs and morality is typical of intrinsic religiosity. Beyond the well-established interindividual variability on these styles (Hood. guilt. norms. Empirical research should investigate this assumption. or the cosmos as a whole. 2009). the emphasis is on beliefs as defined by the group’s authority and texts (Hood et al. there is considerable variability regarding not only the specific content of beliefs.S. Within each of the big four religious dimensions. Watts. Religious experience can be marked by. and/or orthodox way versus (b) an interpretative/ symbolic. and the degree of the interrelations between these dimensions. gratitude. A specific religion or religious denomination may also evolve. and cultures process these contents (see column 9 in Table 2).
religions. 2006). extent. in press. religious groups vary greatly on a continuum going from exclusive identity (e. For instance. The former is animated by feelings of empathy and principles of care and justice. 2010). and extended versus kinship-focused in identity. Claes. 2009). is animated by principles such as loyalty. Greek Orthodox. & Kenrick.g. Research on religion and racism among U. 2010). culturally extended communities that transcend ethnic. denominations. The behaving of a religious person in a correct manner may vary depending on the emphasis. are very likely themselves universal across various religious and cultural groups. To use another terminology. for reviews). more typical of conservative persons and collectivistic societies. Positive versus negative emotionality in religious experiences seems also a constant distinction across the major religions (Pargament. and geography) to large.S. & Wood. or Italian and Spanish Catholics (Saroglou et al. and Muslims living in the same country (Belgium) showed important differences in homonegativity scores: Muslims being high. 1993. However. if not been replaced by positive emotionality (Saroglou. religious identity often transcends national and ethnic barriers (Saroglou & Cohen. and traditions whose frontiers vary from natural kinships of small size (based. cultural groups. within each of the four basic dimensions. groups. and Protestantism. Christians has also shown that. in press)... on ethnicity.. For instance. fundamentalist versus relativistic expressions of faith have been attested across all major religions (Altemeyer & Hunsberger. Western Buddhism) even transcend religious barriers by facilitating universalistic values (Saroglou & Dupuis. Religious people report affiliation and/or identify with communities. 1997). internal to the four basic dimensions that are presumably universal.g.. a recent comparison between Catholics. 2008. other-oriented versus holistic in morality. Similarly. 2008).. Protestants. & Dejaeghere. anti-gay and -lesbian prejudice as a function of individual religiosity is common in the major religions (Hunsberger. Quintelier. There is also cultural variation within religions: The connection between the personal religiosity of Western Christians and guilt and introversion has weakened in the past decades. Judaism and Eastern Orthodox religion are strongly interconnected with ethnicity (Kivisto. Israeli Jews. 2007). conservative morality in collectivistic societies) related to the culture of origin of the respective groups may be responsible for these findings.sagepub. Finally. 2005).. Hall. 2010). no higher than atheists (Hooghe.3 Downloaded from jcc. It may be that the primary factors explaining this kind of variability in the belonging dimension are not religious but cultural. cultural/religious groups seem to differ in the way religiosity reflects emotionality and emotional stability. Saroglou. In sum. and geographical barriers. and integrity (see Graham & Haidt. Some religions and spiritual expressions (e. be it Turkish Muslims.. However. when racism became socially proscribed. 2006. internal theological developments) and cultural factors (e. 2004).S. Catholics in the middle. and Protestants low. whereas it is consistently negatively related to this value among Mediterranean young people.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. Harell. 2010). an important variability characterizes the belonging dimension of religion. Matz. In contemporary Islam. 2002. language. Cohen. Weeden. the latter.g. Saroglou. positive versus negative in emotions. Protestantism (Saroglou. Guilt and neuroticism seem more present in the context of European Catholicism rather than in the context of U. 1996. and priority given to interpersonal versus impersonal morality. Both religious differences (e. symbolic versus orthodox in beliefs.g. sects. it was no longer an outcome of individual religiosity (Batson et al. Catholicism. 2012 . Whitley. 2010.g. purity. e. in typical Western European countries of Christian tradition. and historical periods. one can find key different forms of religiosity— that is. ethnic religions) to inclusive identity (modern spirituality). individual religiosity of young people is overall unrelated to the value of Universalism. linguistic. There is certainly interesting cross-cultural variability on the salience and prevalence of these forms across individuals. these key dynamics.Saroglou 1333 such as “God is loving and supportive” versus “God is judging and punishing” (see Grimes. For instance. authority.
(2010) compared. In cultural and cross-cultural psychology. self. emotions. 2010.sagepub. there exists no published integrated measure of the big four religious dimensions. The creation and cross-cultural validation of such a measure. and belonging). art). activation/priming of religious cognitions. In a series of recent experiments. there is also evidence in favor of the inverse pathway: Religious specifics may contribute to cultural differences. especially Protestant. Nevertheless. of our psychological knowledge of religion comes from Christian. functions. emotions. and (c) in the specific content and processes through which the four dimensions are expressed. thus being distinct from close social domains (e. This model incorporates previous efforts to define the major religious dimensions and adopts a psychologically informed perspective more than a religiously based approach (too close to the content of the theological traditions) or sociologically based taxonomy (too focused on external manifestations of religiosity: adherence to beliefs. These dimensions reflect interconnected. Most. especially non-Westerners (Henrich. norms.4 Throughout this article.g. but fortunately not all. Moreover. philosophy. the salience of these forms may vary as a function of cultural factors.versus otheroriented morality.1334 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(8) Conclusion The coexistence of cognitive. let alone one having received cross-cultural validation. core motives: understanding. Italian Catholics. emotional. The authors interpreted these findings as being due to the fact that Calvinism emphasizes individual responsibility. but (b) constituting one of various cultural ways of expressing these motives. there seems to be important variation within individuals. and social dimensions within religion is very likely universal. This model thus posits a “big four” of basic religious dimensions: believing (in “truth”). self-enhancing. goals. one can distinguish in religion between dogmatic versus symbolic thinking. Dutch Calvinists. and social dimensions of religion. there is an increasing understanding of factors shaping cognition. there are possible universals in the internal dynamics that are preponderant within each dimension: Across religious and cultural groups. It is reasonable to expect that cultural psychological research may also prove fruitful for future researchers willing to examine how cultural factors are intertwined with variation in the cognitive. whereas Catholicism and Judaism place more emphasis on social responsibility.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. Defining religion in this way allows social scientists to conceive religion as (a) being based on universal human motives (following Fiske’s. and exclusive versus inclusive identity. Heine. religious products. we often used phrasing suggesting that culture shapes religion. moral. and across time. either for survey (measures of different dimensions of individual religiosity) or experiment purposes (for instance. whereas the Catholics and Jews were “big picture”–oriented. (a) in the mean importance of each dimension and its relative importance in comparison to the other dimensions. frequency of practice. bonding (with “transcending realities”). groups. controlling. self-concept. underlying psychological processes. and social behavior among different cultural groups. moral. emotional. behaving (“virtuously”). In addition. paranormal beliefs. (b) in the degree and manner in which the four dimensions are interconnected or isolated from each other. distinctly by country.. As far as measurement is concerned. morality. and cultures. and Israeli Jews with nonreligions peers on the global-local task that measures one’s focus on the “big picture” (holistic perception of a big rectangle) or on details (perception of several small rectangles within the big rectangle). & Norenzayan. However. Colzato et al. or community). and belonging (to “transhistorical” groups). The Calvinists turned out to be “detail”-oriented. and mechanisms explaining religion’s outcomes on individuals’ lives and society. but partly distinct. positive versus negative emotionality. at the moment. 2012 . Downloaded from jcc. trusting. and affiliation). would be a welcomed research goal. 2010). cultural contexts.
irreligious. At the moment. for instance as fundamentalist or open-minded. Notes 1. and social behavior). of course. Initial analyses are in favor of the distinctiveness and inter-relation. we have collected data from more than 2. with respect to the variability of religious forms across groups. personality. 2. differences in the ways to be irreligious. of four dimensions—that is. On the basis of our framework presented in this article. 2012 . MA: Harvard University Press. or nonspiritual can be conceived as located at the low end in all four religious dimensions. (c) moral guidance. (1967). In other words. 4. Altemeyer. values.com by Aras Roxana on October 9. authorship. Raymond Paloutzian and Johnny Fontaine. (1996). Cambridge. Personal religious orientation and prejudice. K. authorship. 28. and social behavior. B. atheists and nonbelievers are often opposite to believers (see Zuckerman. should also be made in reference to the mean level this religious form has within the religious/cultural group of reference.300 participants using a short 12-item scale we created. Downloaded from jcc. variation. socioeconomic factors. 1-9. Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the research. 432-443. across countries and religious denominations. just as the qualification of an individual score on a given personality trait as high or low is dependent on the mean importance of this trait within the group of reference. religiosity for (a) meaning-making. and the guest co-editor of this special issue. when atheism is not just irreligion but reflects (a) high investment on specific beliefs against what religious believers perceive as transcendence and (b) belonging to an atheist group. M. There are. Nevertheless. emotions. and history) from other cultural factors such as ethnicity. personality. Psychological studies specifically dedicated to atheism or irreligion are scarce.. & Ross. and/or publication of this article. For instance. one may distinguish factors that are strictly religious (differences in theology. & Lindeman. the qualification of an individual’s religiosity. differences. morality. the existing empirical literature suggests that. G. and so forth. 5. Adam B. W. because the dimension of bonding as described here is not involved. The authoritarian specter.g. texts. Religious people and paranormal believers: Alike or different? Journal of Individual Differences. Sill it does not constitute religion (or a counterreligion). language. in collaboration with colleagues from 12 countries and data from different religious denominations. and differences in cognitions. being atheist. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Throughout the article. However. (2007). for a review). M. Cohen.. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research. 2009. Walt Lonner. the JCCP founding and special issues editor. References Aarnio. and/or publication of this article. J. we often use the phrasing “religious and cultural” factors. then atheism becomes an organized ideology. Allport. (b) ritual and emotional experiences.sagepub.Saroglou Acknowledgments 1335 The revision of the present manuscript benefited from helpful comments provided by two reviewers.. what is fundamentalist in the eyes of a secularized Western should not necessarily be qualified as such if applied to the context of Islam in Iran or Pakistan. and (d) group identity. This does not imply that we pretend to resolve here the interdisciplinary question of the relationships between religion and culture: Is religion part of culture? Is religion one form of culture? Does religion include cultural elements in addition to its own? We do this because. religious traditions. with respect to many psychological domains (e. 3.
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