Genetic and environmental influences and covariance among meaning in life, religiousness, and spirituality

Michael F. Steger, Brian M. Hicks, Robert Krueger, Thomas J. Bouchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Meaning in life, spirituality, and religiousness have been empirically linked in previous research. This study aimed to advance knowledge of the interrelations among these variables by examining their heritable and non-heritable sources of influence, as well as the genetic and environmental contributions to their inter-relations. A sample of 343 middle-aged twins drawn from the Minnesota Twin Registry completed measures of meaning in life and spirituality. There was evidence that religiousness, spirituality, and meaning in life shared common genetic and environmental influences, suggesting that these people's attitudes concerning these variables may arise from shared factors. These results provide novel evidence of a shared genetic substrate for meaning in life, religiousness, and spirituality, and support the possibility that people's basic attitudes about the meaning of existence are commonly rooted in evolved biological factors and conjointly influenced through people's experiences with life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-191
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2011

Keywords

  • Heritability
  • Meaning in life
  • Religiousness
  • Spirituality
  • Twin studies

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