Takahashi, M., Acosta, P., Buttitta, G., Carr-Williams, C., Durczak, S., Gray-Abdai, S., and Sullivan. S. M. (2000). Implicit theories of spirituality: Their religious boundary and characteristics. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Washington D.C.


The study examined a common sense understanding of spirituality and its conceptual boundary with religiosity. Twenty one older (M=74.3, SD=9.0) and 29 younger middle-aged adults (M=43.0, SD=8.7) with various ethnic and educational backgrounds were interviewed regarding their religious involvement and conceptualization of spirituality. The transcripts were then rated by two independent raters to determine the degree to which one's religiosity was associated with the implicit definitions of spirituality. The results suggested that one's religious involvement was significantly related to how spirituality was understood. However, the content analysis also revealed, across age groups, several common themes underlying spirituality regardless of religiosity (e.g., Interpersonal Virtue, Transcendence). Further, the age differences were also found that older adults were more likely than the younger cohort to view religious education as a path to spirituality, identify religious professionals as spiritual people, and associate religious descriptors with the concept of spirituality. Based on these findings, the future research directions are also discussed.