Spirituality, Religion, and Work Values

Article excerpt

The current study explored the relation of intrinsic religiousness and spirituality to work values with a sample of undergraduate college students (N = 265). Each of these constructs was found to weakly correlate with the value of influence, and spirituality weakly-moderately correlated with valuing service and meaning. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that the relations among these variables were substantially moderated by gender. For males, higher levels of spirituality moderately related to valuing influence and service whereas for females no significant relations existed among these constructs. It is proposed that spirituality and religiousness may have only a minor relation to the work values assessed in this study, but these connections may be stronger for men. Researchers and counselors are encouraged to continue to examine how a client's spiritual or religious beliefs may affect what they desire out of their career.


Recently, social scientists have begun to explore the mechanisms by which an individual's spiritual or religious background relates to their work life (Duffy, 2006). For Christians in particular, a rich tradition exists whereby a career might be viewed as an expression of one's spiritual or religious faith (Dik & Duffy, 2009). One example of this would be following a religious calling to a specific career path and a number of studies have shown that the endorsement of a career calling is often tied to both higher levels of religiousness and spirituality and positive career development (Davidson & Cad-dell, 1994; Duffy & Sedlacek, 2007a; Duffy & Sedlacek, in press; Lips-Wiersma, 2002; Sellers, Thomas, & Batts, 2005). Other research has found that students who are religious or spiritual tend to be more mature in their career decision making (Duffy & Blustein, 2005), that levels of religious support moderately correlate with career decision self efficacy (Duffy & Lent, 2008), that spiritual well being correlates with job satisfaction (Robert, Young, & Kelley, 2006), and that college students may use their religion as a coping mechanism for academic and career difficulties (Constantine, Miville, Warren, Gainor, & Lewis-Coles, 2006). Another less studied mechanism by which an individual's religious or spiritual background may link to his or her work life is through the endorsement of specific work values.

Work values are usually defined as what a person wants out of work in general and also what components of a job are important to his or her work satisfaction (Dawis, 2001; Elizur, 1984). The Theory of Work Adjustment (TWA) posits that values signify the aspects in a job an individual needs to be satisfied. These are believed to be critical in the job choice process and are developed within the working world and prior to entering it (Dawis & Lofquist, 1984). Typical work values include such variables as prestige, salary, job security, and altruism. In the field of vocational psychology, numerous studies have explored the ability of work values to predict career choice and even more attempts have been made to parse out the variety of variables that may contribute to the development of certain work values. Of these attempts, most emphasis has been placed on gender, personality, and culture. Although TWA does not explicitly discuss religion or spirituality, for those with a strong religious/spiritual faith, these constructs may also be hypothesized to play a role in the development of these values and in turn career choice. As such, the purpose of the present study is to expand upon this research and explore the extent to which an individual's level of religiousness or spirituality may relate to what they value out of their careers and to understand how these relations differ for men and women.

It is hypothesized that when making career decisions, individuals will consider the outcomes they desire from a specific job and factor these into their decision (Dawis & Lofquist, 1984; Judge & Bretz, 1992). …