Common facets of religion, unique facets of religion, and life satisfaction among older African Americans

Neal Krause
Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 2004, 59 (2): S109-17

OBJECTIVES: Common facets of religion are those aspects of religion that can be shared by people from any racial group. In contrast, unique facets of religion are available only to people in specific racial groups. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the interface among common facets of religion, unique facets of religion, and life satisfaction in a nationwide sample of older Black people.

METHODS: Interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of older African Americans. Survey items were administered to assess common religious factors (e.g., the frequency of church attendance) and unique religious factors (i.e., the belief that religion sustains Black people in the face of racial adversity). Subjective well-being was measured with a life satisfaction index.

RESULTS: The findings reveal that both the common and the unique aspects of religion contribute to life satisfaction among older African Americans.

DISCUSSION: Most studies on race differences in religion focus solely on common religious factors that may enhance the subjective well-being of older Whites as well as older Blacks. The findings from this study are important because they call attention to the insight that can be obtained by also taking the unique facets of religion for older Black people into consideration.

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