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Is Spirituality Detrimental to Generativity?

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This article examines the relations between religiousness, spirituality, and generativity (concern for the welfare of future generations) in late adulthood using longitudinal life-course data. Religiousness and spirituality were operationalized as distinct but overlapping dimensions of individual difference measuring involvement in traditional and nontraditional religious practices, respectively. In late adulthood, both religiousness and spirituality correlated positively with overall scores on self-report and observer-based measures of generativity. However, whereas religiousness was significantly related to the communal facets of generativity, spirituality was significantly related to its self-expanding aspects. These differences were more pronounced after gender, cohort, social class, and the overlap between religiousness and spirituality were controlled. The respective relations among religiousness, spirituality, and generativity in late adulthood were also observed using religiousness scored in early, and spirituality scored in late-middle, adulthood.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of New Hampshire, USA 2: Wellesley College, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2003


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