- Published on Apr 23, 2008
Black respondents (both African Americans and blacks of Caribbean descent) are also more likely than non-Hispanic whites to indicate that they look to God for support, strength and guidance.
About 90 percent of African Americans, 86 percent of Caribbean blacks and 60 percent of non-Hispanic whites state that prayer is very important when coping with life problems. Similar percentages of respondents from each group strongly endorsed the statement that they look to God for strength, support and guidance.
"The findings suggest that in this analysis of race and ethnicity influences, race status (being black vs. non-Hispanic white) is more important than ethnicity (being of Caribbean descent) in patterning attitudes concerning religious coping," the U-M researchers said.
The study is a first of its kind investigation of the correlates of religious coping (prayer during stressful times) among African Americans, Caribbean blacks and non-Hispanic whites. The inclusion of Caribbean Blacks allows the investigation of ethnic differences within the Black population that typically are not taken into account.
"Understanding the diversity that exists within the black population is vitally important, as Caribbean blacks are significantly different from African Americans on a number of social status and religious characteristics," the researchers said.
The research was done by Linda Chatters, a professor of social work and public health; Robert Taylor, professor and associate dean of research in the School of Social Work, James S. Jackson, director of the Institute for Social Research; and Karen Lincoln, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Southern California.
The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Community Psychology.
Researchers used data from the National Survey of American Life: Coping with Stress in the 21st Century, collected by the Program for Research on Black Americans at U-M's Institute for Social Research. The NSAL includes the first major probability sample of Caribbean Blacks ever conducted.
Respondents reflected on attitudes and opinions about religious coping, and provided information about their religious affiliation and demographic characteristics.
For both African Americans and Caribbean blacks, women and married respondents were more likely to look to God for guidance than were men and persons who cohabit with their partners, respectively.
In comparing regional differences, Southerners are more likely than respondents in the Northeast, North Central and West to seek strength and guidance from God. Denominational differences indicate that Baptists are more likely than Methodists and respondents with no religious affiliations to pray in dealing with stress.
Established in 1948, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is among the world's oldest academic survey research organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the American National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world' largest computerized social science data archive. Visit the ISR web site at www.isr.umich.edu for more information.