Interrelations Among Personality, Religious and Nonreligious Coping, and Mental Health

Jude Martin Henningsgaard

Abstract

Religion's involvement in the coping process remains an underexplored area of coping research despite most psychologists agreeing that religion is integral to this process for many individuals. Interestingly, there is some disagreement among psychologists regarding whether religious coping can be "reduced" to nonreligious coping (Siegel, Anderman, & Schrimshaw, 2001). To better understand how religious and nonreligious coping contribute uniquely to the prediction of mental health outcomes, the study's first and second goals were to determine the incremental validity of each type of coping, above and beyond the other. The study's third goal was to determine whether select coping strategies mediated the relationships between personality and mental health, thereby elucidating the nature of their interrelations. Finally, to further the aim of positive psychology, the current study incorporated positive mental health outcomes into its analyses, as well as negative mental health outcomes. A sample of 300 college students completed a packet of questionnaires that included measures of religious and nonreligious coping strategies, personality, depression, anxiety, stress, hopefulness, quality-of-life, and life satisfaction. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to test the incremental validity of religious and nonreligious coping strategies; whereas structural equation modeling was used to explore whether any of the coping strategies mediated the relationships between personality and mental health. Results suggest that religious and nonreligious coping both provide unique information about mental health outcomes. However, religious and nonreligious coping strategies appear to relate differently to mental health, depending on whether positive or negative outcomes are studied. This finding provides further evidence that a state of flourishing is something different from the mere absence of pathology.