Religion as Moderator of the Sense of Control – Health Connection: Gender Differences


Objectives. Sense of personal control is a key marker of successful aging, yet little is known about its relation to religiousness and personal adversity among older adults. This study investigated the relation between two different religious orientations, a church-centered religiousness and a non-church-based spiritual seeking, sense of control, physical health, and gender in late adulthood.

Methods. The participants consisted of a community sample of men and women (N = 156) in their late sixties and mid-seventies who were born in the San Francisco Bay Area. Three-way ANOVAs were used to test in separate analyses, the effects of religiousness and spiritual seeking on sense of control among men and women who were either in good or poor physical health.

Results. Both religiousness and spiritual seeking buffered women, but not men, against loss of sense of control due to poor physical health. The buffering effect of religiousness and spiritual seeking was associated with different psychological characteristics: high life satisfaction for religiousness and engagement in life review for spiritual seeking. For men, the absence of a buffering effect of either religiousness or spiritual seeking was associated with disengagement from involvement in daily activities.

Discussion. Our findings highlight (1) the importance of employing multidimensional models of religion in studying its effect on psychosocial functioning in late adulthood and (2) the possibility that men and women who are high in religiousness and spiritual seeking regulate their sense of control using different adaptive strategies.



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Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging


Taylor & Francis

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