Religion and Personality

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Personality traits and atheism: an investigation using the five factor model. Abstract

Introduction
The pursuit of knowledge and understanding of existence is an integral aspect of the human experience. Religion, as a means of providing solace, understanding of the world, and a provider of answers to the meaning of life has remained consistent over time. Even in an age where science provides evidential answers, it is accepted that some form of religion or spiritual beliefs still exist in nearly every human society. Linking personality with religiosity can provide insight into why this ubiquitous aspect of human culture persists and what benefits or limitations to the individual it can provide. There are, however, increasing numbers of individuals rejecting religion. The 2012 win-Gallop poll interviewed 51,000 individuals in 57 countries. Results suggested 13// described themselves as atheist and 23per cent as ‘not-religious, a rise of 9 per cent since 2005. Historically, society placed pressure on people to be theistic, ensuring that to have an atheistic standpoint in life would be viewed negatively. Catherine Caldwell-Harris concludes that research shows atheists to be less social, less conformist and more individualistic. Hunsberger and Altermeyer (2006) concluded that .. . . . . . . . . . Freud suggests that religion is a ‘fantasty structure from which man must be set free if he is to grow to maturity’. Interestingly, Maslow (1970) reported that out of the 57 individuals he deemed to be self-actualised, very few were religious. In opposition to Freuds’ view, a number of studies have demonstrated that belonging to a religious organisation has numerous psychological benefits. It has been shown that intrinsic religiosity (in that religion is evident in every aspect of an individuals’ life) is positively linked with well-being (Genia 1996; Pargamont 2002; Pargamont 2008; Maltby and Day, 2004).
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