Believing, Bonding, Behaving, and Belonging: The Cognitive, Emotional, Moral, and Social Dimensions of Religiousness across Cultures

Vassilis Saroglou, Magali Clobert, Adam B. Cohen, Kathryn A. Johnson, Kevin L. Ladd, Matthieu Van Pachterbeke, Lucia Adamovova, Joanna Blogowska, Pierre Yves Brandt, Cem Safak Çukur, Kwang Kuo Hwang, Anna Miglietta, Frosso Motti-Stefanidi, Antonio Muñoz-García, Sebastian Murken, Nicolas Roussiau, Javier Tapia Valladares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Based on theorization on the four basic dimensions of religiousness, Believing, Bonding, Behaving, and Belonging, and corresponding cognitive, emotional, moral, and social motives and functions of religion, we developed a measure and investigated cross-cultural consistency of the four dimensions as well interindividual and cross-cultural variability. Data were collected from 14 countries varying in religious heritage: Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism/Taoism (N = 3,218). Beyond their high interrelation and common personality correlates, that is, agreeableness and conscientiousness, the four dimensions were distinct across cultures and religions, less interrelated in Eastern Asia compared to the West, differentially preferred across cultural zones, and characterized by distinct features. Believing and bonding, to which spirituality was primarily related, were preferred in Western secular societies. Behaving and belonging, valued in religious societies, were importantly related to fundamentalism, authoritarianism, and low openness. Bonding and behaving were primordial in, respectively, Israel and Turkey. Furthermore, belonging (marked by extraversion) and bonding were uniquely associated with increased life satisfaction, whereas believing was uniquely related to existential quest and decreased life satisfaction. Thus, the multidimensionality of religiousness seems deeply rooted in distinct psychological dispositions evident at both the individual and the cultural levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-575
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Big Five personality traits
  • closed-mindedness
  • cross-cultural differences
  • life satisfaction
  • religious dimensions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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