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Psychol Aging. 2003 Dec;18(4):916-24.

Religiousness, spirituality, and psychosocial functioning in late adulthood: findings from a longitudinal study.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Wellesley College, Massachusetts 02481-8203, USA.


This study used longitudinal data to examine the relations among religiousness, spirituality, and 3 key domains of psychosocial functioning in late adulthood: (a) sources of well-being, (b) involvement in tasks of everyday life, and (c) generativity and wisdom. Religiousness and spirituality were operationalized as distinct but overlapping dimensions of individual difference. In late adulthood, religiousness was positively related to well-being from positive relations with others, involvement in social and community life tasks, and generativity. Spirituality was positively related to well-being from personal growth, involvement in creative and knowledge-building life tasks, and wisdom. Neither religiousness nor spirituality was associated with narcissism. The relations between religiousness, spirituality, and outcomes in late adulthood were also observed using religiousness scored in early and spirituality scored in late middle adulthood. All analyses were controlled for gender, cohort, social class, and the overlap between religiousness and spirituality.

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