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Inward, Outward, Upward Prayer and Big Five Personality Traits

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Personality and prayer are both conceptualized as focusing on issues of connectivity with the self and beyond. Individual participants each recruited a peer to join the study (total N = 140). Participants (n = 70) rated themselves according to multi-item scales that detail five personality factors (extraversion, intellect, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability; Abridged Big Five Circumplex). They also responded to an instrument specifying eight foci of the inward, outward, and upward cognitive content of prayer (examination, tears, intercession, petition, radical, suffering, rest, and sacrament); these eight foci were reduced to three prayer themes: internal concerns, embracing paradox, and bold assertion. Finally, respondents reported the strength of six "basic" emotions (happiness, surprise, anger, disgust, fear, and sadness) that may be experienced during their typical prayer. Using the same instruments, each peer (n = 70) rated her or his matched participant. Results reveal discrete patterns between self and peer ratings, with respect to links among prayer and personality variables. Both self and peer ratings emphasize a relation between prayer and the personality traits of agreeableness and conscientiousness (e.g., prayer themes of internal concerns correlated with agreeableness). Several concluding points highlight the value of the present conceptualization of personality and prayer with relation to connectivity, potential differences between personal and corporate prayers, and the potential role of sex differences in the disclosure of prayer's content and emotional influence.

Affiliations: 1: Indiana University South Bend; 2: University of Notre Dame


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