1. Religious Life-Styles and Mental Health

By Allen E. Bergin

Allen E. Bergin, “Religious Life-Styles and Mental Health,” in Religion, Mental Health, and the Latter-day Saints, ed. Daniel K. Judd (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1999) 1–32.

Religious Life-Styles and Mental Health​

Allen E. Bergin

 

Allen E. Bergin was professor of psychology at Brigham Young University when this was published. The article was originally published in L. B. Brown, ed. (1994), Religion, Personality, and Mental Health (pp. 69–93); reprinted with permission.

 

Abstract​

This study is an in-depth analysis of the relationship between religious commitment and mental health in a sample consisting of sixty Latter-day Saint students attending Brigham Young University. Information was obtained from intensive interviews and assessments at the beginning of the study and at the end of a three-year waiting period.

Data were obtained from students whose religious development was judged to be continuous (consistent and smooth over their life span) and students whose religiousness was discontinuous (high and low over their life span). While those respondents whose religious development was considered to be continuous generally appeared to be more mentally healthy than those categorized as discontinuous, all test-score means were judged to be within normal limits. The test scores obtained from this sample of religious students demonstrates no correspondence, for the group generally, between religious commitment and psychopathology. The findings from this study suggest that living a religious life can be associated with better mental health.

 

This study continues a series of inquiries in which we have studied the relations between values and mental health (Bergin, 1991). We will first examine religious aspects of life-style and their relation to mental functioning in a sample of religious college students. We will then summarize three-year follow-up data for the same students.

The psychology of religious involvement is a growing area of research and scholarly activity (cf. Gorsuch, 1988). Work done in this area has been theoretical (e.g., Bergin, 1980a, 1980b, 1985; Ellis, 1980, 1988; Fowler, 1981; Walls, 1980), empirical (e.g., Bergin, Masters, & Richards, 1987; Bergin, Stinchfield, Gaskin, Masters, & Sullivan, 1988; cf. Spilka, Hood, & Gorsuch, 1985), and metaanalytic (Bergin, 1983; Donahue, 1985). However, apart from a few notable exceptions, much of the current literature represents a onetime effort on the part of an investigator (cf. Spilka et al.).

Our reviews of previous work in this area (Bergin, 1983) and our own experiences in studying these problems have left us dissatisfied. Many studies have been done, but the overall picture of the phenomena and the principles operating between religion and mental health are ambiguous and inconclusive. Debates over the role of religion in mental health have therefore been difficult to resolve (Bergin, 1980a, 1980b; Ellis, 1980; Walls, 1980).

There are two ways out of the empirical and conceptual difficulties facing researchers in this area. One is to become much more precise in measuring and differentiating the religious dimension so that the ambiguities in global, undifferentiated assessments of this complex of psychosocial variables can be avoided. Progress is being made in this direction (Batson & Ventis, 1982; Bergin et al., 1988; Donahue, 1985; Kahoe & Meadow, 1981). The other avenue is more difficult. It involves a deeper, more naturalistic, and more descriptive immersion in the phenomena that can be achieved by the typical large-sample correlational or multivariate study of scores on paper-and- pencil instruments. We chose this avenue. Although we gave up a degree of precision by doing so, we felt that this would be offset by the benefit of a more penetrating exploration of processes that are still poorly understood. Questions Explored Previous data, alluded to above, led us to believe that religiousness might have both costs and benefits for psychological functioning, depending on how it operates in an individual’s life. Consequently, we explored how different elements of religious lifestyles related to the quality of mental functioning.

Because our participants followed a comparatively regulated life-style entailing considerable self-discipline, we were interested in whether there would be benefits or significant psychological costs in connection with such high levels of self-control. We also explored the possible consequences that might emerge when an individual’s strict morality was compromised, as well as possible antecedents of the choice to violate a moral standard. It was also our intention to explore and describe the participants’ religious experiences. What were they like, and did they play a role in adjustment? Finally, we addressed the issues of personal growth and therapeutic change during the four years of this study (1984–87 inclusive).

It is our view that if the role of religion in psychological adjustment is to be better understood, longitudinal or life-cycle research needs to be conducted (Worthington, 1989). This study therefore follows a sample of religious students over time using a descriptive, intensive research approach (Chassan, 1979). Since we think that the status of this area dictates an exploratory approach, we have not made definitive tests of specific hypotheses. Nevertheless, we have developed a descriptive classification by examining some of the themes that were suggested in the early stages of this exploratory work.

Participants

The original sample was composed of sixty undergraduate dormitory residents (twenty-seven men and thirty-three women) who regularly attended a student ward (congregation) of 163 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons, or LDS) on the Brigham Young University (BYU) campus. The median age of the subjects at the beginning of this study was between eighteen and nineteen years. Subjects were primarily freshmen and sophomores from white, middle-class families who came largely from urban areas. Half were from the West Coast (California, Utah, Oregon, and Washington), and half came from fifteen other states, plus Canada and West Germany. They had an average high school grade point average of 3.51 out of 4.00. (The BYU average for incoming freshmen was 3.34 in 1984.) Ten notices were placed on bulletin boards, and a verbal announcement was given prior to a church meeting. Participation was voluntary, but sample selection was influenced by the fact that the principal investigator was also the bishop (lay pastor) of the ward. A relationship of trust was therefore already established that could yield the kinds of disclosure and commitment to participation necessary for such research.

Participants were rated as better adjusted (M = 4.5 vs. 4.0 on a 5.0 scale), more spiritually committed, and closer to the bishop than nonparticipants (4.0 vs. 2.9). They were also more likely to have been missionaries (22 percent vs. 9 percent), to seek the counsel of clergy (36 percent vs. 21 percent), to be converts (12 percent vs. 2 percent), and to attend church regularly (96 percent vs. 80 percent). Thus, they were somewhat more religious and had a closer relationship with the principal investigator than did nonparticipants. This, however, was considered an advantage for this intensive study of the more religious students.

The potential for biases in and abuses of the special relationship between the principal investigator and the participants was guarded against by the appointment of a special oversight committee cochaired by a Church leader and the dean of students. A majority of interviews and all of the testing was done by non-Mormon research team members. The entire procedure was also thoroughly reviewed by the university’s Human Subjects Review Committee. A further protection against biases or distortions in the study as a whole arose from the makeup of our research team membership, which averaged 50 percent non-Mormon. These team members made critical evaluations during every phase of the research.

Religious Life-Style​

The participants structured their lives in conformity with the typical Latter-day Saint behavioral pattern. All of them held unpaid volunteer positions in the ward as teachers, leaders, social activities or sports directors, service project coordinators, musicians, and records or financial clerks. Time commitments to these responsibilities ranged from about two to ten hours per week, in addition to attendance at three hours of Sunday meetings. Nearly all subjects addressed the congregation during the weekly sacrament meeting in a brief sermon at least once during the year. The ward is, in a sense, a large family: not always a completely happy family but, nevertheless, a relatively close social network.

In addition to donating time to church responsibility and activity, the participants (with few exceptions) donated generously of their funds and also followed standard Mormon strictures such as chastity; abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, and nonprescribed drugs; daily private prayer; regular scripture reading; and participation in a regular family home evening. They were at the same time lively and in many respects typical American college students. They acted out ordinary dormitory pranks and played loud music. They included “jocks,” modern dancers, and scientific intellectuals. They had their share of roommate conflicts, broken engagements, and individual problems. Although the research team saw them as a cut above the average, we also viewed them as normal young adults who were in the processes of adjustment and transition regarding many of the primary dimensions of their lives.

For the second phase of our inquiry, which took place three years after the initial inquiry, we were able to contact and interview all sixty (100 percent) of the initial subjects, and we received completed test data from fifty-six persons (93 percent). Since the time of the first inquiry, many changes had taken place in the lives of these subjects. Many were no longer in school; others had married and had children. A number of our sample had also engaged in one of the most intense religious experiences of their lives in that they had served on a fulltime, unpaid, two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Twenty-one of our sixty subjects had been on their missions between our initial testing and the follow-up assessment. Thus, they provide interesting and informative pre- and post-test data concerning the possible mental health effects of the mission experience.

Initial Inquiry​

The subjects read and signed an extensive informed consent form that was co-signed by a witness. Two interview guides, specifically designed by us for this study, were used in one-to-two-hour semi-structured interviews that elicited details of life history, values, life-style, personal conflicts, and religious experiences. One year later we were able to contact two-thirds of the original subjects and conduct follow-up interviews with them. A three-year follow-up is discussed later in this chapter. Subjects were administered a battery consisting of a biographical inventory, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI), California Psychological Inventory (CPI), Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS), the Allport Religious Orientation Scale (ROS), and other experimental value inventories that are not part of this report.

Four of the seven research team members studied the interviews and life histories of a sample of the participants and, through group discussion, derived a set of prominent themes concerning the students’ values and life-styles. Careful individual reviews preceded the group sessions in which interpretive themes were proposed. The main themes stood out relatively well, and a fairly rapid consensus concerning them evolved. This was perhaps the most creative and important phase of the study. These themes, or dimensions, provided a way of classifying the subjects’ experiences into categories that appeared to be significant and relevant to the purposes of the study.

The categories were Religious Development, Impact of Religion on Adjustment, and Religious Experiences. Religious Development included two possible ratings: (a) continuous, in which religiousness developed consistently and smoothly over the life span, and (b) discontinuous, in which religious involvement varied significantly between high and low over time. Impact of Religion on Adjustment included four possible ratings: (a) no obvious impact, (b) reinforcement of developmental trends, in that religious influences complemented and supported family values and family relationships during the subject’s socialization, (c) compensating, in which religion had a positive impact, prompting improved functioning following or during distress, and (d) deleterious, in which religion had a negative impact, prompting deterioration in functioning. Religious Experiences included two possible ratings: (a) intense, in which frequent or strong religious experiences were reported, and (b) mild, in which mild to moderate degrees of religious experiences were reported. (These definitions will all be elaborated upon in this chapter.)

The selection and definition of these dimensions were based on judgments by the researchers and are original to the study. They are part of the exploratory purpose of the project and require cross-validation in further research.

The interviewers categorized their own interviewees according to this schema. The interviews and histories of a sample of two-thirds of the cases were then subjected to an independent rating by a group of four persons, two of whom had done interviews and ratings on their own cases and two of whom had done neither interviewing nor rating. If the group rating was discrepant from that of the interviewer, a consensus rating was made after discussion. The initial attempts at categorizing, prior to using the consensus rule, yielded 95 percent agreement on Religious Development ratings, 89 percent on Impact of Religion on Adjustment, and 89 percent on Religious Experience. Because all ratings were dichotomous, 50 percent agreement would occur by chance. The category Impact of Religion was dichotomous because ratings occurred in only two of the four categories, namely, “reinforcement” of developmental trends and “compensating.” Procedures were invoked to control for biases in the ratings, including bringing in one reliability rater who had no previous acquaintance with the study and one who had done no interviews and no ratings but who had helped to define the categories.

The rating scheme provided profiles of the religious life-styles of the subjects that allowed for useful subgroupings of the sample. The test scores of these subgroups were then compared.

Subgroups​

The analyses that follow are based on subgroupings of the sixty participants according to the foregoing categories. A subgroup of forty-four out of sixty was identified by “continuous” religious development over their life spans, as opposed to sixteen who experienced a “discontinuous” development. The forty-four appeared to come from orthodox families who followed the LDS life-style and who integrated religion with most other aspects of their lives. Of the forty-four continuous subjects, forty-two were also rated as “reinforcing.” The impact of institutionalized religion on their lives simply reinforced developmental religious trends established within the family. Of these people, thirty-three also reported “mild” religious experiences during their lives that seemed well-integrated with other aspects of their development. These thirty-three constituted what we have labeled a “continuous-reinforcing-mild” subgroup.

The other group of sixteen subjects manifested a different style. All were actively involved and committed in church at the time of the study, but their religious development was rated as “discontinuous” because of significant fluctuations in religious involvement and commitment over their life spans. Of these people, seven also reported that religion tended to have a “compensating” effect on problems they had experienced during their lives. Of these seven subjects, five also reported having “intense” religious experiences that seemed to make decisive differences in their lives. These five constituted a “discontinuous-compensating-intense” subgroup.

Several other small subgroupings occurred which appeared to be less significant than the foregoing, and an analysis of them is not germane to this study.

Results. Table 1.1 summarizes the mental measurements for the entire sample at the initial phase of the study (n = 60). Mean scores on the MMPI for this sample were within the normal range on all scales, in comparison with other samples in this age group (Colligan, Osborne, Swenson, & Offord, 1983), and were similar to profiles compiled by Judd (1986) from previous studies of Latter-day Saint (at BYU), Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish groups. In the light of these data, our sample may be surprisingly representative of lower-division BYU undergraduates and, possibly, other normal college samples.

There is no evidence of unusual defensiveness or faking on the validity scales. The relatively high group mean on the Hypomania scale is common among college student populations and is likely to be more indicative of a generally high level of activity than of pathology.

Distributions on the other personality scales were also typical, and some means appeared to be slightly above average in the positive direction, as might be expected from this rather selective sample. Scores on the Religious Orientation Scale were higher than usual on the intrinsic dimension and lower on the extrinsic dimension.

Table 1.1 also shows that those with a continuous religious development generally appeared to be more mentally healthy than the discontinuous group. Out of fifteen clinical scores (eight MMPI, three CPI, three TSCS, and one EPI), the continuous groups were slightly better on fourteen, a highly significant statistical trend when considered in terms of a nonparametric “sign” test or binomial distribution. Five of these were also statistically significant on t tests: MMPI Psychopathic Deviate, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, and the TSCS Total Positive and General Maladjustment scores.

Table 1.1: Means and Standard Deviations for the Total Sample and Subgroups

 

Research Sample

(n = 60)

Continuous

(n = 44)

Discontinuous

(n = 16)

 

Scale

M

SD

M

SD

M

SD

t

MMPI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L

51

8.3

52

8.0

48

8.5

1.74

F

55

5.0

54

5.0

57

4.7

1.95

K

58

7.7

58

7.3

57

9.0

0.64

Hypochondriasis

53

8.8

52

8.3

53

10.3

0.07

Depression

48

7.7

47

6.2

51

10.4

1.59

Hysteria

56

7.4

56

7.7

57

6.8

0.37

Psychopathic deviate

58

9.8

55

6.9

66

11.9

3.56**

Masculinity and femininity

56

12.7

57

12.9

52

12.7

1.28

Paranoia

55

7.7

54

8.2

58

5.4

2.35

Psychasthenia

58

8.5

57

6.9

62

11.0

1.79

Schizophrenia

59

8.8

57

6.9

65

11.3

2.39*

Hypomania

63

9.8

62

10.0

63

9.3

0.18

Social introversion

50

8.0

50

8.6

49

6.1

0.47

CPI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Factor 1 (Compliance)

48

8.3

49

7.7

46

9.4

1.33

Factor 2 (Mastery)

53

7.8

53

8.4

55

5.4

1.37

Factor 3 (Adjustment level)

51

8.1

54

8.0

52

8.3

0.94

TSCS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total positive

53

8.5

55

7.8

49

9.4

2.20*

General maladjustment

49

7.9

47

7.1

53

9.1

2.04*

Personality integration

57

8.5

58

8.8

54

7.0

1.75

EPI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extroversion (E)

13

3.7

13

4.0

14

2.8

0.56

Neuroticism (N)

8

4.1

8

3.8

10

4.7

1.51

ROS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extrinsic

23

5.4

24

5.1

22

6.2

0.92

Intrinsic

38

5.0

38

4.6

37

6.0

0.97

Note: Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). California Psychological Inventory (CPI) and Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS) are all based on a standardized mean of fifty and a standard deviation of ten. Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI). Form A means and standard deviations, respectively, for American college students are thirteen and four for E and eleven and five for N. There are no national norms for the Religious Orientation Scale (ROS). A fairly representative sample, taken from Purdue University undergraduates, yielded a mean extrinsic score of twenty-nine and a mean intrinsic score of twenty-eight (Donahue, 1985).

Scores for men and women were lumped together because (a) they were equally represented in two groups (55 percent female in the continuous group and 56 percent in the group) and (b) there were no significant difference between their mean scores on any scales except MMPI Masculinity and Femininity and EPI Neuroticism. Sex differences, therefore, cannot account for the significant differences obtained: *p < .01 (continuous vs. discontinuous).

From Bergin et al. (1988), copyright © 1988 by the American Psychological Association, reprinted by permission.

Analyses similar to those presented in Table 1.1, but not included here, were conducted on other subgroupings, such as “discontinuous” and “compensating” (n = 7) versus “continuous” and “reinforcing” (n = 42) and “continuous-reinforcing-mild” (n = 33) versus “discontinuous-compensating-intense” (n = 5).

All these comparisons showed the same pattern of differences, and all of them favored those with a continuous religious development, mild religious experience, and the reinforcing impact of religion on their development and adjustment. Although the continuous- discontinuous variable alone appeared to account for most of the variation in these cases, the largest number of statistically significant differences occurred between the small, homogeneous “continuous-reinforcing-mild” and “discontinuous-compensating-intense” groups. Although these final classifications yielded small subgroups, they provided the kind of context for discovery we were looking for.

Second Inquiry​

As mentioned earlier, we were able to contact and interview all sixty of our initial subjects—three years later—receiving completed test data from fifty-six (93 percent) of these persons. Of them, twenty-three (41 percent) were male and thirty-three (59 percent) were female. All four of the persons from whom we did not receive test data were male.

Procedure. The purpose of the second inquiry was to understand the continued effect of religiousness on mental health, since three years had passed since the initial phase of the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using guidelines from the original interviews that were adapted specifically for the follow-up study. Questions were asked pertaining to the person’s life-style including life history, marriage, religious activities and experiences, family relations, values, daily activities, experiences while serving as full-time missionaries, personal problems, and personal goals. Because some of our subjects were not available in the immediate area, we had to conduct a few of the interviews over the telephone. Participants were contacted in all geographic regions of the United States as well as in several European countries. A small number of participants were unavailable by phone but responded to a written form of the interview that was mailed to them. Subjects were also administered a test battery which included the MMPI, the ROS (Allport & Ross, 1967), and other experimental value and religious inventories that are not part of this report.

Subgroups. The analyses that follow are based upon the subgroupings of these participants that were established in the initial phase of the inquiry. The religious development categorizations of continuous and discontinuous were again utilized, with the subjects placed in these categories according to their classification in the earlier study.

For purposes of the analysis of the missionary experience, the sample was divided into three subgroups. The first of these (n- 11) consisted of those who had gone on their missions prior to our first testing in 1984. The second group (n = 21) were those who went on missions between the first and second testings, of whom twelve were male and nine female. The final group {n = 24) consisted of those who had not served a mission, of whom twenty-three were female. Our analyses focused upon the latter two groups since we had pre-post data on the group who went on missions (n = 21) that could be compared with those who had not gone (n = 24). Results. Table 1.2 shows the means of the entire sample on the MMPI and ROS for both this and the previous testing, with means for the separate subgroups. To assess the patterns of change in the religious development subgroups, time (pre-test, post-test) by group (continuous, discontinuous) analyses of variance were conducted using the MMPI and ROS scales as dependent measures. Table 1.2 displays the means for these subgroups.

For the entire sample, we were interested in changes over time. Significant main effects over time in which the group as a whole increased their scores away from the mean were found on the L (F [1, 43] = 7.76, p .01) and K (F [l, 43] = 15.60, p .001) scales of the MMPI. On the other hand, the F (F [1, 43] = 5.57, p .05), Masculinity/Femininity (Mf) (F [1, 43] = 6.09, p .05), Psychasthenia (Pt) (F [1, 43] = 6.01, p .05), Schizophrenia (Sc) (F [l, 43] = 8.44, p .01), and Hypomania (Ma) (F [l, 43] = 19.18, p .001) scales of the MMPI all showed overall decreases toward the mean. Interestingly, the main effect on time of the Intrinsic scale of the ROS showed an increase in intrinsicness (F [1, 40] = 5.08, p .05).

For the subgroups, we were interested in the interaction between the different groups and time. Significant interactions were found for the F (F [l, 54] = 4.45, p .05), Depression (D) (F [l, 54] = 7.22, p .01), and Psychopathic Deviate (Pd) (F [1, 54] = 6.34, p .05) scales of the MMPI. On the F scale, the interaction was accounted for by a significant regression toward the mean between testings in the discontinuous group’s score. The interaction on the D scale was accounted for by the fact that the discontinuous group had a higher initial score and because the continuous group score increased toward the mean over time. The initial difference in the groups accounted for the interaction on the Pd scale.

Significant main effects for the subgroup variables were found on only three of the MMPI scales at the second inquiry, which indicate that the continuous group scored higher at post testing than the discontinuous group on the L scale (F [1, 54] = 6.99, p .05). The discontinuous group, however, scored higher on the Pd (F [1, 54] = 11.91, p .001) and Sc (F [l, 54] = 4.49, p .05) scales.

Table 1.2: Means for the Total Sample and Subgroups at Initial Testing (1) and Follow-up (2)

 

Total Sample

(n = 56)

Continuous

(n = 41)

Discontinuous

(n = 15)

Scale

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

MMPI

 

L

51

8.3

52

8.0

48

8.5

F

55

5.0

54

5.0

57

4.7

K

58

7.7

58

7.3

57

9.0

Hypochondriasis

53

8.8

52

8.3

53

10.3

Depression

48

7.7

47

6.2

51

10.4

Hysteria

56

7.4

56

7.7

57

6.8

Psychopathic deviate

58

9.8

55

6.9

66

11.9

Masculinity and femininity

56

12.7

57

12.9

52

12.7

Paranoia

55

7.7

54

8.2

58

5.4

Psychasthenia

58

8.5

57

6.9

62

11.0

Schizophrenia

59

8.8

57

6.9

65

11.3

Hypomania

63

9.8

62

10.0

63

9.3

Social introversion

50

8.0

50

8.6

49

6.1

ROS

 

Extrinsic

23

5.4

24

5.1

22

6.2

Intrinsic

38

5.0

38

4.6

37

6.0

               

Note: Minnesota Multiphastic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Religious Orientation Scale (ROS) has no national norms. A sample of Purdue University undergraduates yielded a mean extrinsic score of twenty-nine and a mean intrinsic score of twenty-eight; whereas, religious students score higher on I (thirty to forty) and variably on E (twenty-one to forty-eight) (Bergin, et al., 1987).

Scores for men and women were lumped together because they were about equally represented, and there were no significant differences between their mean scores except on MMPI Masculinity and Femininity. Sex differences, therefore, cannot account for the differences obtained.

Significant differences an p values are given in the text.

From Masters et al. (1991), copyright © 1991 by the American Counseling Association, reprinted by permission.

Missionary Subgroups​

An inspection of the data from the missionary and nonmissionary subgroups indicated that there were no differences on either of the ROS scores and virtually no differences on the MMPI. There was a significant interaction (Time x Group) on the Pd scale (F [1, 43] = 4.02, p .05). This was due to differences at the post-test which showed that the missionary group had changed toward a higher mean score than the nonmissionary group, who stayed about the same. This difference disappeared, however, when a multiple analysis of variance was applied to the same data. The missionaries did have higher Pt scores in both analyses, although the mean difference was not large (58 vs. 54). Our small, nonrandom samples and modest differences make probabilistic interpretations difficult here, but we offer some impressions of the Pd scale findings because they were interesting and interpretable. The follow-up means (nonmissionaries, M = 56, female missionaries, M = 63) demonstrate that the group, primarily female, who did not go on a mission scored lower on the Pd scale at both time points. The male missionaries also scored lower and more like the female nonmissionaries than the female missionaries. The female missionaries therefore look distinctive on this one scale. Since this was somewhat puzzling, we examined the women missionaries’ pre- and post-Pd responses item by item. This revealed positive changes on several items, indicating growth in independence and self-confidence, such as: “My conduct is largely controlled by the customs of those about me” (changed from “True” to “False”) and “I wish I were not so shy” (changed from “True” to “False”). The observed increase in these women’s Pd scores did not therefore reflect an increase in disturbance.

Findings from interviews with returned missionaries (RMs) proved more informative than the test results. The RMs discussed their missions freely and reflected upon personal changes that had occurred over their 1½ –2 years of service. The reports were generally very positive, but we were able to elicit negative themes in their experiences as well. A summary list of all the comments was then assembled and analyzed by three members of our research team. These comments divided nicely into the four themes identified in Table 1.3.

The most positive responses occurred in the two areas of Values and Life-Style Development and Religious Development. Personality Development and Social Development also showed many positive results and several negative consequences as well. A few became anxious, depressed, or interpersonally distressed, but generally these twenty-one returned missionaries appear to have grown in self-esteem, purpose in life, social consciousness, and spirituality.

About half served in various countries of Latin America with the remainder distributed through Asia, Europe, and the United States. The stresses of these missionaries were real as most had to adjust to a new culture, learn to work twelve to fourteen hours each day for six days a week, adapt to full-time missionary companions, leaders, and rules and try at the same time to be a positive influence upon the people they worked with. This pressured existence created crucibles for change, as these people were forced to face self and others in new ways. While ordinary developmental processes were continuing, the mission experiences clearly intensified or accelerated the dynamics of conflict and of growth. In this sense the missions proved to be prolonged, intense religious and psychosocial experiences that had a substantial effect upon their life course, life-style, and adjustment.

Case Studies

In the initial phase of the study we subdivided the religiously “continuous” participants (n = 44) and the “discontinuous” (n = 16) according to two additional categories: (a) “reinforcing versus compensating” to indicate that religious church participation and experiences had either reinforced developmental religious trends established within the family or had compensated for problems they had experienced in their lives; (b) “mild versus intense,” which meant that their internal religious feelings or experiences had generally been mild and integrated with other feelings and experiences, or had been intense and distinctive. On this basis we identified a subgroup of persons having “continuous-reinforcing-mild” religious life-styles (n = 33) and a subgroup of “discontinuous-compensating-intense” persons (n = 5). Although the continuous-discontinuous distinction, by itself, accounted for nearly all of the statistically significant differences that were obtained between various combinations of subgroups in the first part of the study, we found these two groups—more completely defined but small—to be of great interest for our follow-up exploration.

Table 1.3: Self Reports of Mission Effects. N = 21

Positive Change

Negative Change

 

Values and Life-Style Development

Developed values, goals, focus, and life perspective

(11)

Less sense of direction

(1)

More responsible and self-regulated

(3)

Less self-disciplined

(1)

More independent

(1)

 

 

More balance in life

(1)

 

 

16 reports by 12 persons

2 reports by 2 persons

 

Religious Development

Increased religious commitment, understanding, and feeling

(15)

Less investment in Church

(1)

 

Personality Development

More mature, altruistic, and inwardly at peace

(4)

More cynical and critical of self and others

(4)

More flexible, less perfectionistic

(2)

Became depressed

(1)

Less critical and doubting

(2)

 

 

More self-esteem

(2)

 

 

Accept authority more

(2)

 

 

More self-aware

(1)

 

 

13 reports by 12 persons

5 reports by 5 person

 

Social development

More cultural awareness, respect, and altruism

(9)

Decreased social adjustment

(5)

Improved social and emotional relationships

(8)

Difficulty relating to opposite sex

(3)

Better communication and closeness with family

(4)

 

 

21 reports by 17 persons

8 reports by 6 persons

           

Note: Overall, 12 Ss reported only positive changes and 1 subject reported only negative ones, while 8 Ss reported both positive and negative changes.

From Masters et al. (1991), copyright (c) 1991 by the American Counseling Association, reprinted by permission

Consequently, we studied four persons, two from each subgroup, more intensively. Their histories highlight the differing styles. There is no special significance in the fact that the two continuous cases are female and the two discontinuous ones are male, since the overall male and female proportions in the various subgroups were virtually equal. We begin with the two “continuous-reinforcing mild” cases.

Case L. L. was a nineteen-year-old single woman when initially studied. At the time of the follow-up, she was twenty-two, single, and about to complete her undergraduate degree. Initially she presented a picture of almost ideal mental health along with a very active and committed religious involvement. Her relationships with family members, friends, professors, and so forth were consistently open, mutually rewarding, and healthy. Her tests, interviews, life achievements, and affective integration yielded an assessment that might be called “supernormal.” She did not experience life’s ordinary stresses as stressful because they stimulated growth and adaptation.

At follow-up, she reported having experienced more intense stresses than ever before, mainly in deep relationships with men. She had been sexually abstinent all of her life and was surprised by the strong passions aroused in her by a particular boyfriend. This resulted in confusion and strain relative to her loyalty to the ideal of chastity. She ultimately determined to reserve sexual relations for marriage.

Her religious convictions and experiences, plus an activation of her resilient character permitted her to adapt well to the trials of romantic ups and downs. Although she seemed slightly more tense and depressed than before, her life generally continued to be marked by excellent achievement, a wide range of friendships, and a better than average integration of affect. She had felt real distress, but it had tended to deepen her maturity rather than provoke unadaptive emotional disturbances. Her personality and her religiosity continued to meld within a stable and optimistic framework. She learned to absorb flexibly the new and unexpected experiences that had shaken her core traits and values. She had drawn upon spiritual resources to manage difficulties and to reconstrue her experiences in a broader context. Her religious values anchored her responses in ways she felt could maintain a life-style that would provide optimal rewards over the long term.

Case S. S. was initially eighteen, and like her counterpart L., she had grown up in a typical Mormon family reflecting Mormon values and life-style qualities. Her case, however, illustrated internal concerns within an outwardly normal life pattern. Although in many ways she was like L.—a high achiever, a leader, and very religiously disposed—there was a degree of emotional alienation in her family life that disposed her to wall-off distress in a somewhat rigid way. Although she said her church was the most stabilizing influence in her life, it may also have weakened her adaptability.

While it was clear that religious influences helped her to develop a regulated and productive life-style that allowed her to manage disruptive feelings, its heavy load of high standards also reinforced her tendency to strive for perfection and may have limited her adaptive capacities. She was therefore less able to experience emotion in a complete way or to approach crises in a flexible manner. Although her initial test profiles and life-style were similar to those of L., this outward picture of health obscured a vulnerability to depression.

At the time of follow-up, we found that S. had returned to her home state, married, and left school. She was the mother of a newborn child and was experiencing several symptoms of depression. These symptoms had developed over a period of time, at first in response to her husband’s high expectations and the dynamics of the relationship. As one who already expected a great deal of herself, she found that she could not keep up with both his external demands and her own internal schedule. On the affective side she also developed problems. Having difficulty in expressing specific personal needs and feelings, she was unable to focus on her own fulfillment, especially in the light of her husband’s stronger role in the relationship. The birth of the child, with its attendant panoply of needs, and her own deepening fatigue left her feeling depleted and inadequate. Her test scores confirmed the interview impression that she was depressed, and so she (and her husband) were referred for treatment.

In her case, religiosity had provided an adaptation for emotional concerns over many years, and it worked pretty well. As long as she was adjusting, her values and life-style qualities propelled her toward continuing successes, but they outdistanced her emotional growth. She had come to believe that productive performances, religious and otherwise, were major measures of self-value. This belief set her up for emotional conflict in the face of new trials that could not be managed by her external life. Her capacity to love and be loved was weakened when she substituted action for self-valuing emotion. Believing that she was on the right course and that denial was the way to cope with unpleasant vicissitudes and vulnerabilities, she moved forward into new dimensions of life that were too complex for her mode of adaptation.

Case E. E. was twenty-four and had married in 1984. He grew up in a religiously inactive family that was Mormon in name only. Due to the chaos and violence of the family, he became alienated, insecure, and somewhat deviant in his conduct. His school performance was very poor. Over the years he found religion on his own and became an active participant, reporting a number of intense religious experiences that he said helped compensate for his insecurity and helped him to find new direction and fulfillment. His academic performance improved, and he became a leader in school. He served a successful two-year mission prior to marriage.

He is now twenty-seven, in a stable marriage, and the father of four children. He became a leader during college and has held executive positions in large organizations since that time. The instability shown during his early life and adolescence has not recurred.

We were curious at the conclusion of the first study to see whether people like E. would maintain the positive changes they had manifested as the result of a new-found religious experience and par ticipation. Would the intense spiritual identification wear off, and would instability return? Would the compensating effects of religiosity yield to decompensation?

E. continues to show greater stability and maturity than would have been predicted from his background. The Church was decisive in bringing him within a nurturant community that provided him with a sense of identity, a role, and satisfying affiliations, including marriage to a strong young woman. On tests, interviews, and life-events data, he continues to manifest a comparatively strong adjustment. His personality seemed to soak up selectively the benevolent features of the religious environment, and he has not been plagued by the perfectionism that afflicts S.

Case G. G. was also a male, twenty-four years old in the initial study, but he was single and a convert. He had been troubled by various forms of substance abuse, depression, sexual promiscuity, insecurity, and a lack of meaning in his life. After an LSD trip and his father’s death, he experienced a crisis and turned to God for answers. Coincidentally, Mormon missionaries visited him and his roommate, and they joined this “new” religion.

G. interpreted his religious conversion as divine intervention in answer to his prayers. Like Eldredge Cleaver of the Black Panthers and Charles Colson of Watergate fame, intense religious experience brought a transformation in life-style more dramatic than can ordinarily be attained through professional psychotherapy. G. was able to abstain from drugs and gave up his active sex life. His depression lifted, he found new meaning in his existence, and he went on to serve a successful Church mission. It was after returning from his mission that he was first studied by us.

During the three-year follow-up period, G maintained his new life-style and emotional stability. He married and is now the father of one child. There have been some difficult adjustments in the marriage relationship, and it is apparent that he and his wife suffer from more stresses than E. and his partner. Nevertheless, G provides additional evidence of a continuing integration of personal growth, with a deep faith. His religion appears to anchor his life and aid in his coping. His spiritual identification persists, and there is no evidence of a decline in the compensating influence of religiosity on his previous symptomatology.

In the cases of both E. and G, missionary service seemed to solidify the personal growth previously achieved. Their belief systems deepened and extended from theology and self-identity toward practice and social concerns. The mission experience thus seemed to strengthen the fabric of personality change that we called “compensating,” and these “compensators” appear to derive strength from religiosity. They did not suffer from the negative experiences that some missionaries reported.

Discussion​

Religiosity and Mental Health. The data collected from this group of religious subjects demonstrated no evidence, for the group as a whole, of a link between orthodox religiosity and pathology. This finding is interesting since these subjects hold to absolute values of the kind that Ellis (1988) associated with emotional disturbance. On psychological tests, the group’s average scores are comparable to those of other normal groups of young adults, which is similar to the results found with other samples (Bergin et al., 1987).

The present sample also appears to be distinctly intrinsic in their religious orientation, determined by their high scores on the intrinsic scale and correspondingly low scores on the extrinsic scale of Allport’s measure. This finding is similar to those found in other (but not all) conservatively religious samples (Bergin et al., 1987; Bolt, 1977; Donahue, 1985; Paloutzian, Jackson, & Crandall, 1978; Shoemaker & Bolt, 1977), with intrinsic religiosity characterized by internalized beliefs which are adhered to regardless of the external consequences. The extrinsic orientation, on the other hand, is typically seen as being motivated by a desire to gain status, security, self-justification, or sociability (Allport & Ross, 1967).

Our findings suggest that religiousness can be correlated with benevolent development and identity formation and that high levels of self-control are not necessarily associated with lower levels of adjustment. On the other hand, vulnerable individuals may interpret religious pressures to conform to high standards in a detrimental way. We therefore hypothesize that the healthy features of intrinsic religiousness will be better actualized when the institutional and familial environments allow for honest recognition and acceptance of moral imperfections, thereby emphasizing growth relative to moral principles rather than an outward perfectionism that reinforces rigidity and ensures lowered adaptability.

Our group also tended to become more intrinsically religious over the three years. This finding is worth replicating with other samples from differing faiths, in order to determine if this is a typical developmental pattern for highly religious persons.

In a related area, we found that during the first phase of the study some subjects occasionally deviated from their moral standards. Those who did so appeared to be a more disturbed subgroup on the psychological tests, and in interviews they reported more conflicted relationships with their parents than did the other participants.

When asked how they dealt with violations of their consciences (or Church standards) and the consequent feelings of guilt, a minority answered that they used the Church-prescribed practice of confession and repentance. For the others, their responses were diverse and included waiting until the feelings of guilt subsided by attempting to convince themselves that what they had done was really not that bad, that is, not a transgression; doing something righteous to balance their account and to alleviate their feelings of guilt; promising themselves (and God) that they would avoid it the next time; punishing themselves by calling themselves self-deprecating names and feeling bad for one or two days; trying not to think about it; and avoiding spiritual contexts because they felt themselves unclean.

These practices represent a variety of defense mechanisms (including denial, suppression, rationalization, and reaction formation), their purpose being to defend the integrity of the self-concept. We hypothesized that these people have defined themselves as righteous, and that therefore, evidence to the contrary—transgression—threatens the integrity of their self-image. To follow the practice of confession and repentance would be to acknowledge unrighteousness, which is contrary to their righteous self-identity. This problem appears to reflect a conflict produced in vulnerable people by a subculture’s putting emphasis both on maintaining an external image as a righteous person and on honest self-disclosure. It pits an extrinsic norm against an honest, intrinsic style.

To provide a further empirical context for our results, we examined literature on the general effects of college experience on religiosity. The data on the effects of college on religious commitment offer no clear trends, although at least one study (Christensen & Cannon, 1978) found that students at a religious institution (Brigham Young University) tended to become more conservative over their college years, which also seemed to be the case for our subjects. Fowler (1981) hypothesized that Stage 4 (Individuative-Reflective) faith, which seems similar to intrinsic religiosity, is likely to emerge, if at all, during young adulthood as this is a time of individuation and personal commitment. Our subjects were already, on average, intrinsic but they increased in intrinsicness over time, consistent with Fowler’s notion. Concurrently, their mental health was somewhat improved. Based on these results and ideas, it seems that the factors which influence religious development during this stage of growth are worthy of further consideration (cf. Worthington, 1989).

Continuous versus Discontinuous Religious Experiences. A recurring finding from the initial interview data was that nearly all the subjects in the “continuous-reinforcing” subgroup of forty-two cases displayed a remarkable adherence to parental and church values and norms. This was demonstrated by the subjects’ (a) report that parents and church had the most influence on their lifestyles, (b) acceptance of parental and church teaching, (c) resistance to peer influences that oppose parental and church standards, (d) lifestyles of personal impulse restraint and family and church participation, and (e) stated desire to please parents and church figures.

There are a number of explanations for these findings. First, these students were relatively young and may not have individuated themselves fully from their parents. Second, they may have thoughtfully and intentionally assimilated and integrated the values of their elders into their life-styles. Third, conformity to parental and church norms is highly valued and reinforced; whereas, the cost of nonconformance is high, including the potential loss of parental acceptance and approval, loss of in-group peer approval, and disciplinary action by church or university. Fourth, since their religious affiliation places them in a cultural subgroup and, in some settings an out-group, they have an unusually strong identification with their subgroup and with their parents. As one subject said, “My friends may come and go, but my family will always be there.”

Overall, this disciplined and emotionally interdependent lifestyle was associated with better mental health on both test data and interview assessments. High degrees of self-control were not associated with a cost in level of adjustment. This pattern reflects a degree of family cohesion and loyalty to traditional ideals that is more characteristic of an earlier era. The processes of Mormon socialization appear to stimulate the development of a sense of personal identity that is strongly linked to group identity.

In this connection, we noted little evidence of identity crises when we first examined the “continuous” group. It is as though their identification with family and church values progressed smoothly into young adulthood. Although they seemed to be developing the kind of mature identity described by Erikson, they were getting there by a different process from the one he described, which involves mutual affection between parent and child and joint participation in a variety of activities. There was mixed evidence on whether these individuals had “foreclosed” the Eriksonian identity diffusion period in favor of a less mature conformity to external ideals. For some this may have been the case, while for others there seemed to be a reasoned “election” of parental values that was deeper and more integrated than mere conformity would allow. This seemed particularly clear among the returned missionaries who had found out for themselves the value of those ideals. In the process, some had experienced mini-identity crises but nothing like Erikson’s descriptions. This sample of highly religious subjects obviously found in their religious experiences during their development certain personal foci that precluded a typical identity diffusion. On the other hand, the “discontinuous” subjects’ histories appeared to be more consonant with Erikson’s seminal descriptions.

Although it was found that those whose life histories reflect a continuous developmental pattern appeared to be better adjusted than those showing the discontinuous pattern, it is not possible to make statements about whether religion caused this difference, since familial factors in the adjustment of the participants were so intertwined with religion that the religious element could not be isolated from other influential factors. It appears, however, that familial influence in the continuous group involved both high parental control (over behavioral standards) and high parental affection, whereas subjects in the discontinuous group frequently reported that the parenting they had received lacked control, affection, or both control and affection.

For those individuals whose religion was positively integrated into their family life and their own emerging life-styles, their continuous development seemed to provide a source of stability that, in its turn, was related to better adjustment. At the same time, the less adjusted subjects in the discontinuous group appeared to have their adjustment level boosted considerably by intense religious experiences that were like Maslow’s (1968) peak experiences, especially those described as “acute identity experiences” (p. 103) but with the addition of a specific sense of contact with God that transformed motivation and life-style as a result. Such therapeutic personal changes have also been documented by Linton, Levine, Kuchenmeister, and White (1978) and can be compared with equally profound but nonreligious transformations. The former tend to yield new levels of self-regulation, contentment, and group identification, whereas the latter produce more self-expression, exploration, and individualism.

That continuous religious development is associated with better functioning was deemed a finding worthy of description and further investigation. From a theory-building point of view, the idea that a developmental dimension is the major variable is interesting because it is long-lasting, pervasive, and includes powerful social influences. In the second phase of the research, we attempted to determine if the continuous-discontinuous effect was maintained over the three years that had passed since the first inquiry.

The hypothesis that the continuous subjects would demonstrate more psychological stability over time relative to the discontinuous group seems not to have been generally supported across the entire study. Overall, the groups tended to regress toward the mean on the MMPI scales, and they became more similar to each other with the discontinuous group showing more decisive changes in this direction on the F, Pd, Pt, and Sc scales. The continuous group, across both testings, showed slightly better functioning on the Sc, Pd, and Pa scales. Nevertheless, there is a trend for the discontinuous group to improve their scores and, therefore, for the two groups to become more similar.

Finally, the continuous group appears to be slightly more socially conforming, conventional, and self-controlled than the discontinuous subjects (on L, K, and Hy). This style could itself lower their clinical scores, so that the functional levels of the two groups may, in reality, be even more alike than is indicated by their scale scores. Perhaps, then, maturation has a stronger effect on mental health than does any religious developmental style.

Although the L, K, and Hy scores increased in both groups, given the socioeconomic status of the sample, their scores are in a range reflecting improvement in several positive features of mental functioning. These include ego-strength, independence, self-reliance, clear thinking, and a good balance between positive self-evaluation and self-criticism (Graham, 1987). Interestingly, these positive changes coincide with an increase in intrinsic religious orientation, which other authors have noted is associated with positive mental health (Bergin et al., 1987; Donahue, 1985) and also with positive physical health (Mcintosh & Spilka, 1990).

The Missionary Subgroup. With the exception of the findings on the Pd scale, it appears as though the mission experience had no significant effects on the functioning of the participants, as measured by the MMPI. All missionaries (both male and female) tended, however, to increase their Pd scores relative to nonmissionaries (96 percent female), with the major difference being between female missionaries and their nonmission-serving female counterparts. Male missionaries are the norm in Mormon culture and female missionaries are only now beginning to become common. The women in our sample who have served missions may thus tend to be a less conventional, more independent group. While the missionaries did show an increase not found in the nonmissionaries, they were still within normal limits for the population in general and for their particular age group.

Interview reports, on the other hand, suggested a variety of significant changes, both positive and negative. It is likely that the MMPI is not a sensitive instrument for detecting these levels of changes in a normal population. As a two-year intense religious involvement, the mission appears to provoke a wide array of personal crises and peak experiences that, in many cases, seemed to accelerate a growth process, while for others their personal difficulties were either left unresolved or accentuated.

Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research. This project is both blessed and cursed by the nonrandom nature of the sample, and we must be careful to note that MMPI interpretations based on group data from a normal population may not be precise or descriptive and should, therefore, be digested with caution. Future studies of a longitudinal nature with other religious samples are therefore needed, along with comparisons with nonreligious groups going through the same college and young adult experiences. In particular, the question of religious development as it relates to the Religious Orientation Scales, the effects of missionary experiences, and the overall effects of varying religious styles on mental health all need to be addressed in future studies.

With respect to Albert Ellis, it is noteworthy that the positive relations we have discovered between religion and mental health are based on a subset that is mainly intrinsic in religious orientations, while our smattering of negative findings appears to come from the more extrinsic and rigid believers. To a degree, this supports Ellis’s (and our own) notion that there are healthy and unhealthy ways of being religious, but Ellis went too far and overgeneralized about religiosity when he classified all devout, orthodox, or absolute belief in the unhealthy category. We have found that healthy religiousness is not necessarily “liberal,” yet its definition and measurement are continuing tasks for research (cf. Malony, 1988).

Our perspective, based on this series of studies through the 1980s, is that it is possible to be devout or absolute in conviction without being dogmatic, intolerant, or rigidly unadaptive. Extrinsic fear and intolerance do signal unhealthy belief, but intrinsic devotion is a strengthening feature of personality.

All the preceding points provide potentially valuable insights for counselors concerning the vicissitudes of conservatively religious students’ life-styles. Our findings suggest that such students, including those with turbulent histories involving intense religious experiences, can be comparatively normal, or at least that their religious interests and aspirations can be used in adjustment counseling, provided that the emphasis is on growth rather than external appearances. The continuous-discontinuous distinction may also be useful in diagnosis and counseling.

Because psychologists tend to be less religious than the United States norm (Jensen & Bergin, 1988), our results have the important implication that counselors need to be tolerant of religious students and not automatically interpret their religiosity negatively.

Also pertinent to counseling is the fact that our descriptions of differing modes of religiousness can be put into a developmental perspective. The intrinsic, the continuous, and the nondefensive modes appear to involve higher levels of functioning. We did not measure other presumably high-level dimensions, such as Quest (Batson & Ventis, 1982) or Religious Autonomy (Kahoe & Meadow, 1981), but these, like our dimensions, can be compared with other views of positive growth, like those of Maslow (1968), Erikson (1968), Kohlberg (1969), Fowler (1981), Perry (1970), and Loevinger (1976). Conceptually, correlations between religious development and these other developmental schemes can be articulated and applied in the counseling setting. Our guess is that such an articulation in practice and research would show that religious development is most successful when it recognizes the religious dimensions we have described and the dimensions defined by these other theorists.

Diverse life-styles, whether religious or nonreligious, need to be compared and correlated with indices of disturbance and health, in order to extend the small set of findings reported here.

Acknowledgments​

This chapter is a condensed integration of two studies done on the same sample, the first in 1984 and 1985 (Bergin, Stinchfield, Gaskin, Masters, & Sullivan, 1988) and the second in 1987 (Masters, Bergin, Reynolds, & Sullivan, 1991). Portions of these studies are reproduced here by permission of the American Psychological Asso ciation and the American Association for Counseling and Development.

We are grateful to the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences at Brigham Young University, which provided several faculty research grants to fund this research. We are also grateful for the valiant subjects who have cooperated so willingly in our study of their lives.

Coauthors of this paper are Kevin S. Masters, Randy D. Stinchfield, Thomas A. Gaskin, Clyde E. Sullivan, Emily M. Reynolds, and David W. Greaves, Brigham Young University.

References​

Allport, G. W., & Ross, J. M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 432–443.

Batson, C. D., & Ventis, W. L. (1982). The religious experience: A social-psychological perspective. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bergin, A. E. (1980a). Psychotherapy and religious values. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48, 95–105.

Bergin, A. E. (1980b). Religious and humanistic values: A reply to Ellis and Walls. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48, 642–645.

Bergin, A. E. (1983). Religiosity and mental health: A critical reevaluation and meta-analysis. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 14, 170–184.

Bergin, A. E. (1985). Proposed values for guiding and evaluating counseling and psychotherapy. Counseling and Values, 29, 99–116.

Bergin, A. E. (1991). Values and religious issues in psychotherapy and mental health. American Psychologist, 46, 394–403.

Bergin, A. E., Masters, K. S., & Richards, P. S. (1987). Religiousness and mental health reconsidered: A study of an intrinsically religious sample. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 34, 197–204.

Bergin, A. E., Stinchfield, R. D., Gaskin, T. A., Masters, K. S., & Sullivan, C. E. (1988). Religious life-styles and mental health: An exploratory study. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 35, 91–98.

Bolt, M. (1977). Religious orientation and death fears. Review of Religious Research, 19, 73–16.

Chassan, J. B. (1979). Research design in clinical psychology and psychiatry (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley, Halsted Press Division.

Christensen, H. T., & Cannon, K. L. (1978). The fundamentalist emphasis at Brigham Young University: 1935–73. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 17, 53–57.

Colligan, R. C, Osborne, D., Swenson, W. M., & Offord, K. P. (1983). The MMPI: A contemporary study New York: Praeger.

Donahue, M. J. (1985). Intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness: Review and metaanalysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 400–419.

Ellis, A. (1980). Psychotherapy and atheistic values: A response to A. E. Bergin’s “Psychotherapy and religious values.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48, 635–639.

Ellis, A. (1988). Is religiosity pathological? Free Inquiry, 27–32.

Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity youth and crisis. New York: W. W. Norton.

Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco: Harper and Row.

Gorsuch, R. L. (1988). Psychology of religion. Annual Review of Psychology, 39, 201–221.

Graham, J. R. (1987). The MMPI, a practical guide (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Jensen, J. P., & Bergin, A. E. (1988). Mental health values of professional therapists: A national interdisciplinary survey. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 19, 290–297.

Judd, D. K. (1986). Religious affiliation and mental health. See chapter 13 in this volume.

Kahoe, R. D., & Meadow, M. J. (1981). A developmental perspective on religious orientation dimensions. Journal of Religion and Health, 20, 8–17.

Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research (pp. 347–480). Chicago: Rand McNally.

Linton, P. H., Levine, L., Kuchenmeister, C. A., & White, H. B. (1978). Lifestyle change in adulthood. Research Communications in Psychology, Psychiatry and Behavior, 3, 1–13.

Loevinger, J. (1976). Ego development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Malony, H. N. (1988). The clinical assessment of optimal religious functioning. Review of Religious Research, 30, 3–17.

Maslow, A. H. (1968). Toward a psychology of being (2nd ed.). New York: Van Nostrand.

Masters, K. S., Bergin, A. E., Reynolds, E. M., & Sullivan, C. E. (1991). Religious life-styles and mental health: A follow-up study. Counseling and Values, 35,211–224.

Mcintosh, D. N., & Spilka, B. (1990). Religion and physical health: The role of personal faith and control beliefs. In M.-L. Lynn & D. O. Moberg (Eds.), Research on the social scientific study of religion (Vol. 2, pp. 167–194). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Paloutzian, R. R, Jackson, S. L., & Crandall, J. E. (1978). Conversion experience, belief system, and personal and ethical attitudes. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 6, 226–275.

Perry, W. G, Jr. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: A scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Shoemaker, A., & Bolt, M. (1977). The Rokeach value survey and perceived Christian values. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 5, 139–142.

Spilka, B., Hood, R. W., Jr., & Gorsuch, R. L. (1985). The psychology of religion: An empirical approach. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Walls, G B. (1980). Values and psychotherapy: A comment on “psychotherapy and religious values.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48, 640–641.

Worthington, E. L., Jr. (1989). Religious faith across the life span: Implications for counseling and research. The Counseling Psychologist, 17 (4), 555–612.