SBNR Identity: The Role of Impersonal God Representations, Individualistic Spirituality, and Dissimilarity With Religious Groups

Kathryn Johnson, Carissa A. Sharp, Morris A. Okun, Azim F. Shariff, Adam Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


We conducted two studies investigating the extent to which self-identification as Spiritual but not Religious (SBNR) was associated with (H1) the development of idiosyncratic religious beliefs and exposure to religious diversity and/or (H2) negative attitudes toward organized religion and being hurt by members of a religious group. In Study 1, SBNRs scored higher than religious and nonreligious participants on belief in God as an impersonal cosmic force (but not as a personal being) and individualistic spirituality. Although SBNRs had positive attitudes toward religion, they were less positive than those identifying as religious. Exposure to religious diversity and hurt by religious groups were not significant predictors of SBNR. We replicated these results in Study 2 using a multi-item measure of God representations and also found that SBNRs’ attitudes toward religion were predicted by a perceived dissimilarity with religious groups over and above individualism, secular group participation, perceptions of Christianity as too structured, and liberalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-140
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal for the Psychology of Religion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Psychology(all)

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