Exploring Religiousness and Hope: Examining the Roles of Spirituality and Social Connections among Salvadoran Youth

By Pamela E. King, Jennifer M. Vaughn, Yeonsoo Yoo, Jonathan M. Tirrell, Elizabeth M. Dowling, Richard M. Lerner, G. John Geldhof, Jacqueline V. Lerner, Guillermo Iraheta, Kate Williams, and Alistair T.R. Sims



Given the strong link between religiousness and hope, we sought to further understand the relations of these potentially powerful resources for youth living in adversity. Although existing research suggests that religiousness might be associated with adolescent hope via spirituality and social connections, few studies have tested models that integrate both. Thus, as applied psychologists, the aim of this paper was to test a theoretical model in the lives of youth. Drawing on a Relational Developmental Systems metatheory, we sought to further elucidate the relations between religiousness and hope and to explore how involvement in the faith-based youth-development organization, Compassion International (CI), might facilitate character strengths like hope. In order to do so, we tested whether religiousness was directly and indirectly (via spirituality and social connection) related to hopeful future expectations, using a sample of 9–15-year-olds in El Salvador (M = 11.6 years; n = 888), half of whom were involved in CI and the other half of whom were a locally matched counterfactual sample. Structural equation models revealed that higher levels of religiousness were directly and indirectly associated with higher levels of hope in relation to higher levels of spirituality and social connections among these youth. CI-supported youth reported significantly higher levels of religiousness than the counterfactual sample. Findings suggest that the relationship between religiousness and hope is best understood when it incorporates youth’s spirituality and social connections associated with religion.


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King, P. E., Vaughn, J. M., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J. M., Dowling, E. M., Lerner, R. M., Geldhof, G.J., Lerner, J.V., Iraheta, G., Williams, K., & Sim, A. T. R. (2020). Exploring religiousness and hope: Examining the roles of spirituality and social connections among salvadoran youth. Religions11(2).