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Religions 2018, 9(6), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060182

Existential and Virtuous Effects of Religiosity on Mental Health and Aggressiveness among Offenders

1
Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798, USA
2
Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL 32224, USA
3
Research and Evaluation, Minnesota Department of Corrections, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 May 2018 / Revised: 2 June 2018 / Accepted: 3 June 2018 / Published: 6 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Crime: Theory, Research, and Practice)
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Abstract

Although prior research tends to show that religion has a salutary effect on mental health and a preventive effect on crime, studies explaining the religious effect, particularly those on offenders, have been limited. To address the issue, we examine whether religiosity is inversely related to negative emotions and aggressiveness among prison inmates. Additionally, we assess whether the relationships are attributable to an inmate’s sense of meaning and purpose in life and/or their virtues. Specifically, we hypothesize that religiosity is inversely related to feelings of depression and anxiety and the intention of engaging in interpersonal aggression. We also hypothesize these relationships to be mediated by existential belief in life’s meaning and purpose and virtues (compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, purpose of God, and gratitude to God). We tested our hypotheses using survey data collected from a random sample of male inmates from three prisons in Texas, applying latent-variable structural equation modeling. We found that the existential belief explained the effect of religiosity on negative emotional states and intended aggression. In addition, forgiveness and gratitude mediated the effect on state anxiety, whereas purpose in God and gratitude to God mediated the effect on state depression. Substantive and practical implications of our findings are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: religiosity; meaning and purpose in life; compassion; forgiveness; gratitude; depression; anxiety; aggression; prison; offender religiosity; meaning and purpose in life; compassion; forgiveness; gratitude; depression; anxiety; aggression; prison; offender
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Jang, S.J.; Johnson, B.R.; Hays, J.; Hallett, M.; Duwe, G. Existential and Virtuous Effects of Religiosity on Mental Health and Aggressiveness among Offenders. Religions 2018, 9, 182.

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