Religiosity/spirituality and prosocial behaviors among Chinese Christian adolescents : The mediating role of values and gratitude

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-161
Journal / PublicationPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number2
Online published3 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


Religiosity and spirituality have been found to be associated with prosocial behaviors. The mechanisms, however, have received little attention. This study examined whether or not value orientations and dispositional gratitude mediated the effects of religiosity and spirituality on prosocial behaviors among adolescents. Recruited through 9 teachers of religious studies and faith groups, 243 Hong Kong Chinese Christian adolescents completed a cross-sectional survey measuring their levels of religiosity, spirituality, value orientations (including self-transcendence, self-enhancement, conservation, and openness to change), gratitude, and prosocial behaviors (including peer-helping behaviors and altruistic behaviors). In addition, teachers also reported the prosocial behaviors of the participating adolescents. Results of a cluster-corrected path analysis revealed that adolescents with higher levels of spirituality reported more peer-helping behaviors (β = .43, p .001). A curvilinear effect was found for religiosity, in which highly and slightly religious adolescents reported more peer-helping behaviors than did the moderately religious. The effects of religiosity and spirituality on other prosocial outcomes were nonsignificant. The effect of spirituality on self-reported peer-helping behaviors was partially mediated by gratitude (β = .08, p .001), whereas openness to change mediated the effects of spirituality on other prosocial outcomes, despite no overall effects being observed. The overlap between religiosity and spirituality led to reciprocal suppressor situations when predicting self-reported peer-helping behaviors and the 4 value orientations. The prosocial effects of religiosity might share with those of spirituality. Without spirituality development, religiosity may become harmful to prosociality. Religiosity and spirituality are important for promoting prosociality among adolescents. The findings, however, only lent weak support to the mediating roles of values and gratitude. Continued research on the mechanisms of the religious prosociality hypothesis is needed.