What Dillon and Wink found is that the vast majority of those interviewed were either religious or spiritual seeking. Instead of relying on traditional measure such as church attendance, the researchers took cues from those interviewed about how they lived their lives and whether they engaged in regular spiritual seeking behaviors, such as meditation. Simply saying they were interested in spiritual endeavors was not enough to be classified as a spiritual seeking person.
Discovering and measuring this spiritual seeking behavior was important, as Dillon and Wink found that people who were spiritual were just as concerned about the well-being of others as more religious people. "Our study suggests that there is more than one pathway to the development of an ethic of care for others," they said.
And as people age, those who were highly religious fared much better than most. The authors found that people in the twilight years who were dealing with physical ailments but who had high levels of religiousness did not experience the same levels of depression as their less religious peers.
"In other areas of functioning depression, sense of control, and fear of death our data showed a more specific role for religiousness. In particular, among those who were in poor health, religiousness emerged as a strong buffer against depression and
Contact: Lori Wright
University of New Hampshire