New article on religious commitment, growth in virtues, and well-being

A recent study by Danielsen Institute researchers in collaboration with Peter Jankowski of Bethel University and David Wang from Rosemead School of Psychology. Longitudinal analyses found support for the virtue ethics theory that religious commitments influence growth in eudaimonic well-being through growth in virtues, and in this study forgiveness and blessedness were the key virtues accounting for those effects. Humility also showed later positive effects on meaning in life. This study was funded by the Templeton Foundation. Full citation and abstract are below.


Jankowski, P.J., Sandage, S.J., Wang, D.C., & Crabtree, S.A. (in press). Virtues as mediators of the associations between religious/spiritual commitment and well-being. Applied Research in Quality of Life.  


Religious/spiritual commitment tends to show positive associations with well-being, and yet, questions remain about the mechanisms for the association. Some have recently proposed that virtues may mediate the religious/spiritual commitment – well-being association. However, empirical support for this mediating role stems largely from cross-sectional studies. Further, scholars have increasingly drawn attention to validity concerns when studying religiousness/spirituality, virtues, and well-being. As such, we explored associations among religious/spiritual commitment, virtues, and well-being, prior to and after conducting factor analysis. Our sample consisted of graduate  students attending 18 seminaries across North America ( N = 580; M age = 31.50;  SD = 11.12; 47.3% female; 62.9% White). Patterns of associations initially showed evidence of construct overlap among two pairs of virtues, which was confirmed by factor analytic findings, the latter which suggested a five-factor first-order structure of the virtues. Latent variable modeling showed cross-sectional associations between greater religious/spiritual commitment and greater well-being through greater blessedness and forgiveness . Longitudinal associations did not replicate the cross sectional findings, but did show associations between prior levels of greater humility and later levels of greater eudaimonic well-being, and between greater hedonic wellbeing at time 1 and greater blessedness at time 3 through greater eudaimonic wellbeing at time 2. Greater religious/spiritual commitment at time 1 also predicted greater well-being at time 3, through a synchronous mediation process involving blessedness at time 2. Findings highlight the importance of attending closely to potential construct overlap in the measurement of religiousness/spirituality, virtues, and well-being.