Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Relationships of Psychological Well-Being, Social Morals, and Personality among Religious and Non-Religious Individuals

Dann Hazel, Fielding's School of Psychology

Throughout American history, an idea has predominated popular thinking that people of strong religious faith, particularly those from a Judeo-Christian tradition, possess personality traits characteristic of mental stability more than do non-religious individuals, including atheists. Furthermore, strong religious faith has also been seen as the precursor of greater psychological well-being and social morality more than does lesser faith, or than no faith at all. This study surveyed 1,195 participants of a variety of faith and no-faith positions on the Internet, utilizing the Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-Being, the Socio-Moral Reflection Measure, the Big Five Inventory, and the Updated Dogmatism Scale to determine correlations among psychological well-being, social morality, personality traits, and dogmatic cognitive systems with degrees of faith, including primarily Judeo-Christian traditions, secular humanists, and atheists. Finally, within four asynchronous online discussion groups derived from various Facebook communities, 25 participants indicated the degree of their involvement in online social media as it related to their growth and identity maintenance as religious or non-religious individuals. Both quantitative and qualitative study results indicated that social and personal evolution may be occurring among both religious and non-religious individuals, possibly and at least partially attributable to the pervasiveness of social media in modern lives. As examples, dogmatic cognitive styles and intolerance of human diversity are largely eschewed by both groups. Consequently, the “culture war” between theists and atheists, often typified by social marginalization and dogmatic communication styles, may have already begun to wane.

Keywords: degrees of religious faith, fundamentalism, progressive religion, atheists, theists, personality traits, Five Factor Model, virtue ethics, social morality, dogmatism, psychological well-being, social media, focus groups, Facebook

Perceptions and Experiences of Physical Punishment in Childhood and Their Subsequent Impact on Social and Psychological Functioning in American and Mexican Populations

Carol Quintana, Fielding's School of Psychology

The purpose of this study was to determine whether cultural differences exist in the perception and experience of physical abuse in childhood for Americans and Mexicans. The study examined the impact of perceptions and experiences of childhood physical abuse on subsequent adult psychological and interpersonal functioning. The concept of physical abuse was presented from the perspective of its relationship to parental discipline as a function of child-rearing. Eighty-nine Americans and 101 Mexicans completed questionnaires to assess for childhood disciplinary experiences, perceptions of being abused, and adult social and psychological functioning. Participants completed the following questionnaires: the Emotional and Physical Abuse Questionnaire (EPAB; Carlin et al., 1994) as modified by Randazzo and Fallon (2009); the Symptom Checklist-90 Items (SCL-90; non-copyrighted version); and the CAGE substance abuse measure (Ewing, 1984). This cross-cultural study employed a quasi-experimental design with two non-random samples. Results indicated that Americans experienced harsher discipline than Mexicans contrary to the study’s hypothesis. Of those that met researcher criteria for abuse, perceptions of physical abuse did not differ significantly by cultural group. Mexicans who were physically abused had lower levels of depression, hostility, and interpersonal sensitivity than physically abused Americans.

Key words: Child-rearing, socialization, physical discipline, physical abuse, cross-cultural differences, ethnic minority groups, Mexico