Spirituality and transcendental experiences are even more important than religion to the psychological well-being of many Black American women, according to a study in The Journal of Black Psychology. University of Illinois researchers noted that 84% of Black American women report that religion is very important to them; however, they hypothesized that previous studies had conflated spirituality and religion. “Where religiosity is typically defined in terms of participation in religious institutions and adherence to prescribed beliefs, spirituality is defined as one’s relationship with divinity and focuses primarily on subjective individual experiences of the transcendent,” wrote the researchers. They conducted surveys with 167 Black American women and found that experiences of the divine were the key contributing factors to mental health.
“This is one of the few published studies examining the unique influence of spirituality on psychological well-being,” wrote the researchers. “Spirituality’s full mediation of the relation between religiosity and mental health and between religiosity and life satisfaction suggests that person-to-person and person-to-divine being relationships in addition to meaning-making processes may be the underlying mechanism accounting for the link between religion and mental health and life satisfaction.”
The Influence of Religiosity and Spirituality on Psychological Well-Being Among Black Women (Reed, Tamilia D. and Helen A. Neville. Journal of Black Psychology. August 2014. doi: 10.1177/0095798413490956)