Role of Personality and Spirituality in Nonviolent Behavior in Young Adults

By Ashraf, Rida; Fatima, Iram | Journal of Behavioural Sciences, January 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Role of Personality and Spirituality in Nonviolent Behavior in Young Adults


Ashraf, Rida, Fatima, Iram, Journal of Behavioural Sciences


A substantial amount of research within psychology has focused on the topics of violence and aggression. Unfortunately, nonviolence, an interrelated but more positively focused topic has not received much attention. Mayton, (2009) describes nonviolence as not merely the absence of violence rather as a pattern of thoughts, attitudes and behavior with six basic characteristics. These characteristics include (1) beliefs that both physical and psychological violence are to be avoided, (2) active search for wisdom and desire to find out the truth rather to humiliate the opponent, (3) willingness to endure hardship for the comfort of others (4) having helping and emphatic behavior for others, (5) effort to increase social justice without using violence, (6) no cooperation with evil.

Nonviolence occurs at the intrapersonal level, interpersonal level, societal level, or world level. At the societal level and world levels the basic components of peaceful or nonviolent cultures include social justice, protection of human rights, gender equity, education, inclusiveness, rule of law and environmental . At the intrapersonal level and interpersonal levels the traits of agreeableness, empathy, anger control, cooperativeness, need for cognition, forgivingness, moral reasoning and spirituality are relevant, along with higher priority on the value of benevolence and lower priorities on power and hedonism values (Mayton, 2009). Brown (1989) describes intrapersonal nonviolence as essential for interpersonal and societal peace. The real peace is the intrapersonal peace, while interpersonal and societal peace is the reflection of this. Other two levels of peace can't be achieved until the intrapersonal peace is achieved. Therefore the current study focused on assessing how different dimensions of personality and spirituality relate to nonviolent behavior at intrapersonal level.

Numerous theories or models of personality have been presented over the past centuries, each theory or model presented personality in a different way. This study makes use of the five factor model of personality (McCrae & Costa, 1999) to investigate the role of personality traits in nonviolent behavior. The big five or the five-factor model of personality pinpoints five main traits (neuroticism, extraversión, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) that underlie an individual's personality and play an important role in shaping the individual's behavior (Piedmont, 1998 ). A small number of studies have been conducted to assess the relationship of personality traits with nonviolent behavior (Mayton, 2009). Only three studies investigated the relationship between big five personality traits and nonviolent behavior. Mayton et al (2008) investigated the relationship between personality traits and nonviolent behavior in US college students. Agreeableness was found to be positively related to psychological nonviolence, helping behavior, search for wisdom and self-suffering dimensions of nonviolent behavior. Extraversión was found to be positively related to physical nonviolence, psychological nonviolence, helping/empathy and search for wisdom dimensions of nonviolent behavior. Conscientiousness was found to be positively related to helping behavior and negatively related to physical nonviolence and psychological nonviolence. Openness to experience was not found to be related to any dimension of nonviolent behavior. Heuchert (as cited in Mayton, 2009) investigated the relationship of big five personality traits to nonviolent behavior in undergraduate students in U.S.A. it was found that people who scored high on agreeableness also scored high on psychological nonviolence, helping/empathy and self-suffering dimensions of nonviolent behavior. It was also found that people who scored high on conscientiousness also scored high on all the dimensions of nonviolent behavior. The relationship with three other personality traits (neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience) was not found significant. …

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