Spiritual Development During Childhood and Adolescence

Chris J. Boyatzis

in The Oxford Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199729920
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Spiritual Development During Childhood and Adolescence

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  • Developmental Psychology



Social-scientific research on spiritual and religious development is burgeoning. Amid this growth, there is progress but lack of consensus in defining spiritual development. A social-ecology model of spiritual development is offered, with a focus on the family context as well as other social contexts. Studies that have examined the interaction effects of multiple dimensions of religiosity and spirituality on children's outcomes are highlighted. Adolescent well-being has received extensive attention, with ample evidence of the positive role of religion and spirituality in youth development but uncertainty on the causal mechanisms. Many future directions are offered, including a call for refined methodology with longitudinal design and in-depth qualitative methods as well as greater incorporation of perspectives outside of psychology: cultural anthropology, comparative religion, and religious education/children's theology.

Keywords: child; adolescent; spirituality; religion; family; social ecology; definition; well-being; methodology

Article.  10791 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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