KeywordsIntellectual Dimension Social Norm Religious Practice Religious Experience Core Dimension
The terms religiousness and religiosity are used interchangeably but often defined as an individual’s conviction, devotion, and veneration toward a divinity. However, in its most comprehensive use, religiosity can encapsulate all dimensions of religion, yet the concept can also be used in a narrow sense to denote an extreme view and overdedication to religious rituals and traditions. This rigid form of religiosity in essence is often viewed as a negative side of the religious experience; it can be typified by an overinvolvement in religious practices which are deemed to be beyond the social norms of one’s faith.
Religiousness/Religiosity and Health
As the use of the concept religiosity has a certain ambiguity in its definition, the lack of clarification can lead to much confusion among researchers. Further, adding to this complexity is the fact that research has found both negative and positive relationships between religiosity and a variety of health outcomes (Miller and Kelley 2005). Thus, future researchers may need to investigate not only linear patterns but to test for nonlinear associations between these particular constructs and need to appreciate that religiosity can often be used to represent an extreme view and overdedication to religious rituals and traditions that are positioned outside social norms. Indeed, such obsessive behaviors are frequently viewed as pathological, and perhaps it is these excessive practices that underlie the negative ill-health associations that have been observed. Moreover, some researchers have proposed a bidirectional and interaction model to explain these complex relationships (Erwin-Cox et al. 2007).
When one is measuring religiosity and religiousness, they are in fact measuring how religious an individual is. The Faith Maturity Scale (Benson et al. 1993) is an 11-item self-report questionnaire which is segregated into two subscales: horizontal and vertical faith maturity. The vertical scale assesses closeness to God, while the horizontal subscale reviews the existent to which faith has motivated an individual to assist another person. The Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS) measures the general intensities of five theoretical defined core dimensions of religiosity: the public practice, private practice, religious experience, ideology, and intellectual dimensions (Huber and Huber 2012). Also, religiousness can be measured using a number of scales such as the Religiosity Index (Piedmont 2001) and the Religion Schema Scale (Streib et al. 2010). While the Mature Religiosity Scale (de Vries-Schot et al. 2012) measures a combination of healthy religiosity and salutary faith and is primarily concerned with their protective roles in mental health. However, as researchers neglect to consider that religiousness may also denote religiosity, one must analyze specific questions from the scales in order to assess the religiosity of an individual. Similarly, it is not yet clear whether these scales allow for assessment of the more extreme aspects of religiosity which have been associated with ill health.
References and Further Readings
- Benson, P. L., Donahue, M. J., & Erikson, J. A. (1993). The faith maturity scale: Conceptualization, measurement, and empirical validation. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 5, 1–26.Google Scholar
- Erwin-Cox, B., Hoffman, L., Grimes, C. S. M., & Fehl, S. (2007). Spirituality, health, and mental health: A holistic model. In K. Rockefeller (Ed.), Psychology, spirituality and healthcare. Westport: Praiger Books.Google Scholar
- Miller, L., & Kelley, B. (2005). Relationships of religiosity and spirituality with mental health and psychopathology. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Piedmont, R. L. (2001). Spiritual transcendence and the scientific study of spirituality. Journal of Rehabilitation, 67, 4–14.Google Scholar