Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 470–479 | Cite as

Religious Orientation and Life Aspirations

  • Patrick R. Steffen
  • Spencer Clayton
  • William Swinyard
Original Paper


The effects of religiosity on well-being appear to depend on religious orientation, with intrinsic orientation being related to positive outcomes and extrinsic orientation being related to neutral or negative outcomes. It is not clear, however, why intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity has the relationships they do. Self-determination theory may provide a useful framework of intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations that may help to answer this question. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity would be related to intrinsic and extrinsic life aspirations. We hypothesized that intrinsic religiosity would be positively related to intrinsic life aspirations and negatively related with extrinsic life aspirations, and that extrinsic religiosity would be positively related to extrinsic life aspirations and negatively related to intrinsic aspirations, and that life aspirations would partially mediate the relationships between religious orientation and outcome. To study these hypotheses, a random national sample (total number of 425, average age of 52, 59 % female) completed the measures of religious orientation, life aspirations, affect, and life satisfaction. It was found that intrinsic religiosity was positively related to positive affect, life satisfaction, and intrinsic life aspirations and was negatively related to negative affect and extrinsic life aspirations. Extrinsic religiosity was positively related to extrinsic life aspirations and was not related to the intrinsic life aspirations. When both religious orientation and life aspiration variables were included together in the model predicting outcome, both remained significant indicating that religious orientation and life aspirations are independent predictors of outcome. In conclusion, although religious orientation and life aspirations are significantly related to each other and to outcome, life aspirations did not mediate the effects of religious orientation. Therefore, self-determination theory does not appear to completely account for the effects of religious orientation.


Religious orientation Life aspirations Well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick R. Steffen
    • 1
  • Spencer Clayton
    • 1
  • William Swinyard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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