Is God's call more than audible? A preliminary exploration of a two-dimensional model of theistic/spiritual beliefs and experiences

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Abstract

Among spiritual individuals, auditory hallucinations (AHs) are often accompanied by positive affectivity (PA) suggesting that such coincidental affective valence might gainfully demark spiritual from comparable non-spiritual aberrant perceptions. Yet nearly all of the relevant past religiosity/spirituality research has been limited to AHs and/or known groups (Evangelicals, epilepsy patients, etc.). Using a community sample (N=485), this article explores whether unusual perceptual experiences (UEs) more generally (not simply AHs) together with PA predict participants' self-reported spirituality. Specifically, a dual marker hypothesis developed from affect attribution theory-in which UE, PA, and their interaction predict spirituality in a non-additive positive fashion-is proposed and confirmed (even after controlling for socio-demographics). The estimators reveal that spirituality is disproportionately elevated for high scorers on both predictors. These results are consistent with previous known-group studies and support recent speculation that the affective-cognitive interpretation of perceptual aberrations might be a key feature of spirituality and one that potentially demarks it from psychosis. Moreover, the correlation between spirituality and PA varies depending upon one's UE level; a result not anticipated by the incumbent positive psychological theory of spirituality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-155
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Volume65
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

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