Personality and religiosity

I recently came across this study which provides a meta-analysis of 71 different studies on the relationship between religiosity and personality. The main result was that two key personality traits, agreeableness and conscientiousness, are associated with higher levels of religiosity throughout 19 different countries. People high on “agreeableness” tend to demonstrate more selfless concern for the well-being of others, and are more trusting and generous. Those high on “conscientiousness” tend to have more self-control and are better at “task- and goal-oriented behavior”.

I wonder to what extent personality affects religiosity vs. religiosity affecting personality. On one hand, research tends to show that personality is fairly stable throughout one’s life, and that it is partially genetically inherited. This would lead to the conclusion that certain people are pre-disposed by nature (biological factors) to be more religious. On the other hand, religious individuals (especially born-again Christians) may argue that the born-again experience gives one a “new heart”, which presumably affects one’s personality in terms of being more generous and loving (agreeableness) as well a decreased desire to engage in deviant behavior (conscientiousness).

Or perhaps it’s both and they mutually reinforce each other?


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