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Religious Involvement and Feelings of Connectedness with Others among Older Americans

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Summary Some researchers maintain that one of the primary functions of religion is to help individuals develop a strong sense of connectedness with other people. However, there is little research on how a sense of connectedness arises. The purpose of this study is to examine this issue. A conceptual model is developed to test the following key hypotheses: (1) blacks are more likely than whites to affiliate with Conservative Christian denominations; (2) Conservative Christians attend worship services more often than individuals in other faith traditions; (3) people who go to church more often are more likely to receive informal spiritual support i.e., encouragement to adopt religious beliefs and practices); (4) individuals who receive more spiritual support are more likely to read religious literature and watch or listen to religious programs; and (5) people who engage in these private religious practices are more likely to feel a close sense of religiously based connectedness with others. Data from a nationwide longitudinal survey provides support for each hypothesis.

Affiliations: 1: ; 2: Department of Health Education and Behavior, School of Public Health, the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029 USA


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