As shown in Table 1
and visualized in Figure 2
the results confirm the documented correlation patterns based on our analysis of previous research. However, the correlations are minor in comparison to Gennerich and Huber
(2006, p. 260
) because in our former study we used a bipolar value measurement. In this study, the value items were based on Schwartz’s PVQ21 and had to be ipsatized, resulting in minor correlations (cf. Gennerich et al. 2018
The measure of religious fundamentalism plots in the area of values of tradition (see Figure 1
and Figure 2
). It correlates with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.09 and with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change by r = 0.13.
The single item of religious identity plots in the value segment of benevolence with a correlation of r = 0.22 regarding the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.12 regarding the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. In comparison, the single item of spiritual identity plots in the value segment of universalism correlating with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.17 and r = −0.06 regarding the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. The Centrality of Religiosity Scale plots between both these single-item measures and shows a correlation of r = 0.26 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.07 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
Further, religious reflexivity correlates with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.14 and with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change by r = −0.10. Looking at Figure 2
, the scale of religious reflexivity correlates most with the value-segments of universalism and self-direction.
The religious pluralism scale mainly correlates with the value segment of benevolence (see Figure 2
). The correlation pattern is r = 0.10 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.04 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. The single item of religious syncretism is located in the segment of self-direction with a correlation of r = 0.01 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = −0.07 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
The scale of atheism is located in the area of achievement values with a correlation of r = −0.25 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = −0.11 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
Rather orthogonal to all measures of religiosity above the scales of right-wing-authoritarianism (r = −0.17 and r = 0.25), social dominance orientation (r = −0.28 and r = 0.10) and preference for the political right (vs. left) (r = −0.16 and r = 0.18) are located in the segment of security and power values.
In respect to the emotions toward God the results in Figure 3
show the following pattern: The emotions of awe, gratitude and security toward God and freed from guilt plotted in the value segment of benevolence. Subsequently, the correlations are presented in detail: Security in relation to God correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.22 and with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change by r = 0.12. Further, gratitude toward God correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement, r = 0.24 and with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change, r = 0.12. Awe of God correlated r = 0.18 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.07 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. Moreover, the emotion of being freed from guilt in relationship to God correlated r = 0.16 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.08 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
The emotion of guilt in relation to God is plotted in the segment of tradition and correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.06 and r = 0.19 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. Anxiety toward God is plotted in the segment of security values and correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = −0.06 and r = 0.21 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. Anger toward God is plotted in the segment of power values and correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = −0.14 and r = 0.02 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
shows the direct correlations of centrality of religiosity and the religious and political orientations with the emotions toward God. The higher correlations show a pattern well in line with their locations in the value circle.
Centrality of religiosity, as well as religious and spiritual identity correlate highest with those emotions which are located closest to their position in the value circle: Awe (0.72/0.66/0.45), gratitude (0.84/0.75/0.45), security (0.84/0.75/0.44), freed from guilt (0.71/0.65/0.40). The correlation with anger (with the greatest distance in the circle) is the smallest (0.16/0.12/0.12). Religious fundamentalism is also located close to the emotions of awe, gratitude, security, freed from guilt, but less close in comparison to centrality of religiosity, and religious identity, which show a similar pattern. However, of all scales, religious fundamentalism correlates highest with the emotion of guilt toward God which is located near religious fundamentalism in the value segment of tradition. Atheism, on the other hand, correlates negatively with positive emotions toward God, and shows very small correlations with anger and anxiety toward God (0.05 with anger and −0.08 with anxiety).
Religious reflexivity indicates a similar pattern as spiritual identity regarding emotions toward God: In comparison to the centrality of religiosity and religious identity, the correlations are smaller (for example, r = 0.45 with gratitude and 0.41 with awe). Religious pluralism and religious syncretism show no substantial correlation with the emotions toward God. Especially, the item freed from guilt shows a negative correlation (−0.16/−0.11) with both orientations.
Furthermore, the political orientations show rather small correlations with the emotions toward God. However, RWA correlates highest with anxiety and guilt toward God which are two emotions in the neighborhood of RWA in the value circle.
The study is based on responses from an online questionnaire. The link was open for three years. As a result, there is a risk that people who do not belong to the target group participated in the survey. However, the validity of the findings is supported by the fact that Christian churches, non-Christian religious communities, and secularist organizations forwarded the link to their members with a recommendation to participate. This means that there is a high probability that many people from this target group took part in the survey. The success of this strategy is indicated by the high number of Jews (n = 77), Muslims (n = 156), free-church Christians (n = 132), and secularists (n = 46) who took part in the survey.
The results of the study show that the single-item measure of religious identity and the score of the Centrality of Religiosity Scale correlates within the area of values of benevolence, whereas the measure of religious fundamentalism was related to values of tradition and conformity. The single-item measure of spiritual identity and the scale of religious reflexivity was related to values of universalism. The single item measure of religious syncretism was related to values of self-direction. Finally, the scale of atheism locates in the value segment of achievement values.
Concerning our first study with the scales of the S-R-T (Gennerich and Huber 2006
) we obtained rather similar results with one exception. In the data from the 2006 study, religious pluralism was related to self-direction whereas it is related to values of benevolence in this study. Only the item of religious syncretism is still related to values of self-direction. Therefore, the perspective of pluralism has become an attitude of people with a mainline religious identity.
The value patterns give some hints regarding the interpretation of the different forms of religiosity. Conservative religiosity or religious fundamentalism is related to the need for security. This confirms Hood and Morris
) interpretation, that fundamentalism is concerned with boundary maintenance and the internal stabilization of the religious system based on the principle of intratextuality (Hood et al. 2005
). Alternative worldviews are excluded this way. One’s tradition as a shared reality seems to be objective and thus more reliable for fundamentalist persons (cf. Hardin and Higgins 1996
). The link between religious reflexivity and universalism can be explained with boundary transgressions. Religious reflexivity challenges existing religious beliefs, and thus opens one up for other perspectives and dialogue. Therefore, our scales of religious reflexivity and syncretism could represent the principle of the intertextuality of non-fundamentalist religiosity, because the two attitudes could promote a way of interpretation, in which each text fundamentally deepens the understanding of others.
Similar to the study by Cohrs et al.
) right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO) plot in the value segments of security and power. The differentiation between these two measurements is supported by the results found by Gennerich
(2018, p. 265
). He found that values of security are negatively correlated with tolerance of complexity (according to Radant and Dalbert 2007
) as a counter-pole to RWA, whereas the preference for violence legitimizing norms of masculinity (according to Enzmann and Wetzels 2003
, a similar construct to SDO) correlated with values of power. The political position (right vs. left) correlates with values of security and power to an equal degree and locates between RWA and SDO in the value circle. However, using a left-right positioning with five categories and a plot of the factor scores of the value dimensions for the five groups the left-right continuum shows a curvilinear relationship with values because extreme right (and extreme left) persons are critical in respect to mainline social conventions, therefore, showing both a considerable degree of openness to change (Gennerich 2018, p. 267
). Spirituality, religious reflexivity and syncretism plot in opposition to these three political orientations. Finally, the more conservative forms of religion plot in an orthogonal way in the value field in relation to the three political orientations.
A further question regards the relation of emotions toward God with the two value dimensions and the diverse scales of religiosity in Figure 2
. In reference to the study by Gennerich
) with an adolescent churchgoer sample, the correlation pattern is slightly different. On the one hand, gratitude, awe and security plot in the value segment of benevolence, similar to the emotion and value relation in the churchgoer sample. On the other hand, other emotions show a moved position. Anger is plotted in the segment of power values in our study whereas it is posited in the segment of hedonism in the study by Gennerich
). The difference may be explained by the samples. Pepper et al.
(2010, p. 141
) showed a similar phenomenon in comparing a general public sample with a churchgoer sample regarding the relation of concepts of God and values. The concept of a “distant God” mainly correlated with the value hedonism in the general public sample and with the value of power in the churchgoer sample. Therefore, the structure of the sample can influence the correlation pattern. In our sample, the emotion of anger toward God seems to express a rather egocentric attitude toward God which is also expressed by the social dominance orientation, whereas anger toward God is used in the sample of adolescents to express one’s distance toward the belief in God. In the sample of the adolescent churchgoers, anxiety to God is plotted close to anger toward God and seems to merely express distance and a negative emotion toward God. In contrast, anxiety toward God is plotted in the segment of security values in our sample and expresses a general feeling of insecurity which is also expressed in the preference for security values in our sample. Furthermore, in our study the emotion of guilt toward God is plotted in the value segment of tradition whereas it is plotted in the segment of power and in the middle of the field in the adolescent sample. In the adolescent sample, it may also be interpreted as an expression of guilt because of self-distancing from one’s own religion. In our sample of adults, guilt toward God may be a result of conformity, i.e., being oriented to follow socially shared rules.
Comparing Figure 2
and Figure 3
the results can be explained as follows: gratitude, security, awe and freed from guilt are positive emotions toward God. As seen in Table 2
, these emotions show high correlations with the Centrality of Religiosity Scale (gratitude r = 0.84, security r = 0.84, awe r = 0.72, freed from guilt r = 0.71). Their closeness to centrality of religiosity in the value circle is mirrored by these high correlations. However, religious pluralism also locates close to these positive emotions toward God in the value circle. Nonetheless, the direct correlation with freed from guilt shows a negative correlation (−0.16): it seems to be difficult to experience God’s forgiveness without some degree of commitment toward God or without a previous emotion of guilt toward God (cf. Table 2
: the emotions “guilt” and “freed from guilt” show the same pattern of correlation). However, religious pluralism is most positively correlated with “gratitude” (r = 0.11). This aligns with Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions (cf. Fredrickson 2004
). Gratitude enables flexible and creative thinking while making organizational members more flexible, empathic, creative, as well as, making them feel better when interacting with others (Fredrickson 2004, pp. 153, 159
). Therefore, emotions of gratitude toward God may also promote more tolerant attitudes toward others and their belief systems.
The emotion of guilt toward God may be explained as motivation for or cause of a strict or fundamentalist interpretation of religion (r = 0.57 with religious fundamentalism). In a study by Nelissen et al.
) guilt in general, does not correlate with values which indicates that in each segment of the value field emotions of guilt are possible. Anxiety toward God as a feeling of insecurity may lead to a preference of security values and Right-Wing Authoritarianism (r = 0.32 with RWA and r = 0.33 with religious fundamentalism). Nelissen et al.
) also report a similar correlation of the frequency of experience of fear and security values. Regarding Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory these results can be explained in more detail. RWA correlates most strongly with anxiety (r = 0.32) and guilt toward God (r = 0.34). Negative emotions like anxiety and guilt narrow a person’s thinking and attitudes (Fredrickson 2004, p. 146
). This explains why RWA locates in the values segment of security values, which are correlated with xenophobic attitudes and the interpretation of complexity as a burden (Gennerich 2018, p. 265
). Religious fundamentalism is also highly correlated with anxiety (r = 0.33) and guilt (r = 0.57). However, religious fundamentalism is simultaneously highly correlated with positive emotions toward God (security r = 0.60, gratitude r = 0.55, awe r = 0.58 and freed from guilt r = 0.65). The narrowing effects of the negative emotions toward God are counterbalanced this way. The broaden and build effect of positive emotions toward God leads to a clear differentiation of religious fundamentalism and RWA on the self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement dimension.
In the study by Nelissen et al.
), the frequency of experience of anger shows a clear correlation with power values similar to our study. The experience of anger toward God may be explained by a general disposition of persons with a preference for values of power to interpret their experience in a way that generates anger. In contrast to the results found by Exline and Martin
) anger toward God is not significantly correlated with atheism (r = 0.05) in our study, instead, it shows its highest correlation with religious reflexivity (r = 0.20). This may indicate that it is necessary to experience a relationship with God in order to experience emotions toward God. Obviously, in this case, it is not atheism (located closer to anger toward God) but religious reflexivity (located with greater distance to anger toward God) with the higher correlation with the item anger toward God. In sum, the relations of emotions toward God with values are rather complex and need to be disentangled in further research.
In congruence with other studies about the multidimensional relationship between values and religiosity, this study gives evidence that religion can promote a broad range of values, i.e., from self-direction and universalism and benevolence to tradition and security and power. Which values are promoted by religiosity depends on the type of involvement in religion. Conservative religious interpretations are related to security and tradition values and the reflexive and liberal interpretations to universalism and self-direction. Persons, who assess themselves as religious in a more general way and for whom religion is a central dimension of their personality seem to balance dialogical openness and system stabilization. Thus, these persons share benevolent values, near the middle of values of tradition and values of universalism.
However, our correlational data is open for both directions of interpretation. Religious orientations may promote related values or the other way round: Values can be interpreted as abstract and integrated indicators of life experiences or situational contexts of a person (Gennerich 2013b
). Therefore, people prefer different interpretations of God, faith, or hope because depending on the experienced situation different religious concepts are more or less suitable for the process of sensemaking (cf. Gennerich 2013b
). For example, God as an ultimate mystery may unleash many possibilities in the life of resourceful persons whereas God as a forceful authority giving guidance fosters a high degree of self-control to deal with poor life situations better. In this practical perspective, our results have severe consequences for religious education (RE). Traditional theological interpretations that emphasize trust and gratitude toward God do not fit equally well for all students (Gennerich 2013b, pp. 221–22
). Therefore, plural religious interpretations should be introduced in the RE classroom to avoid exclusion processes. Based on our results such processes can be predicted: people preferring values of stimulation, hedonism, and achievement experience more conflict in their families (Gennerich 2010, p. 63
). In contrast to those who mainly experience emotions of gratitude and security toward God they have fewer opportunities to express their experiences in the RE classroom. However, the emotional orientations represented in the lament psalms (e.g., anger toward God), for example, are more easily adapted by this group. In conclusion, our results can be interpreted as a market model to predict processes of religious sensemaking and to reflect on possible interventions in the context of RE or therapy.