The boon and bane of religiosity in dealing with uncertainties arising from social change


Current trends of social change such as globalization, individualization, and pluralization confront people in many industrialized societies with growing uncertainties concerning important developmental goals of young and middle adulthood, such as career and family formation. Because they threaten the successful resolution of these developmental goals, these uncertainties pose new demands that require a response by the individual; as such, they represent potential stressors that can impinge on psychological adaptation. An important yet understudied question is what psychosocial resources may help individuals deal with such conditions of heightened uncertainty. Burgeoning evidence in both psychology and sociology points to an important role of religiosity in coping with life stress generally, and uncertainty more specifically. Building on this precedent, the overarching goal of this dissertation, comprising three empirical studies, was to explore the role of religiosity in dealing with perceived uncertainties that arise from social change in the realm of work and family life. The Jena model of social change and human development served as the theoretical background for these studies, according to which religiosity can be conceived as a potential psychosocial resource. Data came from a cross-sectional survey among 3,078 respondents (aged 16 to 46 years) which was conducted in 2009 in Poland, a nation that is highly religious and which has recently been witnessing profound social change. The results of these three studies point to a dual role of religiosity in coping with social change. They suggest that religiosity – depending on the life domain and outcome under study – can function both as a resource and as a risk factor for psychological adaptation, in particular subjective well-being. Theoretical and practical implications of these results, as well as suggestions for future psychological studies in the emerging research area of religion and coping are discussed

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