Personality and spirituality are often considered to be closely related to each other. Especially while reading psychology, psychologists often try to find how strongly one aspect can affect the other and how they evolve throughout life. There is no doubt that spirituality can affect the behavior of a human being and condition the way one sees the world.
Spirituality is a belief that there is something greater than oneself. It is the belief in the presence of a higher universal power. Personality, on the other hand, refers to the combination of qualities or characteristics that give the individual a distinctive character.
Thus, it becomes really interesting to see how a person’s innate beliefs shape the way they behave.
FIVE-FACTOR MODEL OF PERSONALITY
Spirituality has often been considered to be closely related to these five personality traits, especially openness, kindness, and extraversion. Some scholars are also of the opinion that spirituality should be considered as a sixth personality trait altogether as the other five do not fully capture the essence of spirituality, and nuances like loneliness, detachment, or simplicity are not even considered.
This trait is typically characterized by sadness, moodiness, and emotional stability. People high on this trait tend to struggle with stressful events and worry a lot. They feel anxious easily and get upset over little things. People low on this trait are more relaxed and deal with stress better.
It is typically associated with sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, etc. People who are extroverts are social, and they feel energized when they are around other people. They strive to be the center of attention of every group. People low on extraversion are usually called introverts and prefer solitude, dislike small talk, and feel exhausted when they socialize a lot.
The people who are high on this trait are very creative and open to new experiences. These people have an extravagant imagination and insight. They are curious about the world and other people and are always ready to tackle challenges. People who are low on this trait are more traditional and might struggle with abstract thinking.
People who have strong conscientiousness are more organized and more observant of details. They plan meticulously and ahead of time and are mindful of how their behavior affects others. They have high levels of thoughtfulness, good impulse control, and goal-directed behavior. Meanwhile, people low on this trait dislike structure and schedules and procrastinate doing important tasks.
People high on this trait are more trustworthy, kind, cooperative, and affectionate. They are empathetic and care a lot about other people. They have a lot of interest in other people and are always ready to help people in need. On the other hand, people low on this trait tend to be more competitive and can even manipulate others to get what they want. They have little interest in others’ problems and often insult or belittle others.
WHAT DO VARIOUS STUDIES SUGGEST?
A study by Jude Henningsgaard and Randolf C. Arnau found positive associations, i.e., a significant relationship between spiritual meaning and extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, and a negative association or no relationship with neuroticism.
The study found that when the quest was high, but the spiritual level in people was low, there was a high chance of people being associated with high neuroticism and openness and low extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
The reasoning they came up with is “because perhaps they are continuously involved in the intellectual exploration of religious answers to existential problems. Although this pursuit exemplifies the individual’s openness to religious uncertainties and affinity for skeptical thinking, it is likely to leave the individual feeling somewhat tense and emotionally reactive.”
The study also revealed that the individuals with a religiosity profile tend to be less agreeable and open because there is little room for religious uncertainties, but also less neurotic because of the social support function of religion.
Another study by Viviana Lemos and María Emilia Oñate inferred that aspects related to spirituality and religiosity make up a different factor to personality.
Gholamreza Khoynezhad, Ali Reza Rajaei, and Ahmad Sarvarazemy found that belief in God or a higher power has a positive relationship with the good personality traits of extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Meanwhile, it has a negative correlation with neuroticism. They also found out that a person’s religious beliefs can anticipate his personality in terms of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness but cannot anticipate the openness factor significantly.
Spiritual beliefs can help a person find the true purpose of their life, thus influencing their motivation, behavior, and overall personality. They can give people hope and help them in facing their challenges or dealing with identity crises.
Most scholars believe that spirituality is not completely disassociated with personality and is related to a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs. While some believe that spirituality and religion have a strong impact on one’s personality, others are of the opinion that it can be a separate identity trait in itself.
Written by: Aashna