Neal Krause, Professor
The purpose of this study is to collect a fifth wave of data for an established nationwide survey of religion and health. Measures of the following character strengths will be obtained: humility, altruism, compassion, forgiveness, meaning in life, a sense of the vast superiority of God, trust in God, awe of God, and feelings of gratitude toward God. Five issues will be examined. First, humility serves as the linchpin in this work - it is proposed that humility gives rise to the other character strengths. For example, people who are humble are more compassionate, and people who are more compassionate are, in turn, more likely to help others. Second, the religious roots of humility will be examined. It is proposed that spiritual support from people at church helps an individual develop a deep sense of trust in God, people who trust God develop a close relationship with Him, and this relationship fosters humility. Third, it is proposed that when the character strengths are taken together they create a higher-order character strength - wisdom. The work on wisdom is extended by seeing whether it is associated with health. Fourth, a range of longitudinal models will be evaluated to determine the temporal ordering among key character strengths. Fifth, a series of individual growth curve models will be estimated to assess trajectories of character strengths over time and the factors that predict these changes. The Foundation has issued separate RFP's to assess character strengths individually (e.g., just forgiveness).My work will weave these character strengths into a more coherent whole by evaluating the logical causal ordering among them. This will help unify the research program of the Foundation. The LOI for this project was originally submitted under this funding priority: How Does Spirituality Affect Health? However, after speaking with Kimon Sargent, we decided this project would best be submitted under the Character Strengths Core Funding area with a larger budget.