Thursday, January 9, 2020

Religious Spiritual Coping- Positive and Negative

Coping is the act of dealing with stressful experiences. Religious or Spiritual (RS) coping refers to the act of employing religious or spiritual resources to cope with a stressful experience. 

KennethPargament is the psychology of religion scientist who identified two major groups of coping strategies as positive and negative RS coping. His seminal work was summarized in the 1997 book, The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, and Practice. Many studies since then have illustrated how positive and negative coping strategies work with different stressful conditions.

Pargament, Koenig, and Perez (2000) developed the RCOPE as a measure of positive and negative religious coping. The researchers identified five basic functions of religious coping with impactful events. A shorter form has been used widely in research (Brief RCOPE).

1. Meaning- positive and negative religious or spiritual reappraisal
2. Control- active and passive strategies to deal with the events
3. Comfort-drawing on RS connections or support, or becoming discontented with RS
4. Intimacy- seeking RS support from others or discontent in interpersonal RS relationships
5. Life transformation- RS direction, conversion or disengaging, deconversion

Gall, T. L., & Guirguis-Younger, M. (2013) have summarized some of the findings from coping research. In general, positive religious coping has helped people deal with distress- including general health and mental health conditions. However, negative coping is linked to worsened conditions in some studies. Seeing a condition as punishment by God seems to be a particularly common negative coping response among people whose conditions worsen.

Examples of drawing on RS to positively cope with difficulties include the following:

RS purification and forgiveness
RS direction, guidance, and conversion
RS consultation with members of the clergy
RS connection

Examples of negative religious coping include

RS discontent
RS views of God or gods as punishing
RS reappraisal of God’s power
RS persistent pleading for divine assistance

When RS appears helpful in dealing with stressful experiences, people report increases in 
one or more of the following:

purpose in life

When RS does appears unhelpful in dealing with stressful experiences, people present with the following:

Feeling burdened
General negative mood

References—These references offer a more in-depth look at RS coping.

Gall, T. L., & Guirguis-Younger, M. (2013). Religious and spiritual coping: Current theory and research. In APA handbook of psychology, religion, and spirituality (Vol 1): Context, theory, and research. (pp. 349–364). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Pargament, K. I. (1997). The psychology of religion and coping: Theory, research, practice. New York: Guilford Press.

Pargament, K. I., Feuille, M., & Burdzy, D. (2011). The Brief RCOPE: Current psychometric status of a short measure of religious coping. Religions, 2, 51–76. doi:10.3390/rel2010051

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