The Personal Consequences of Religion: A 20-year Nationally Representative Longitudinal Study
TWCF Number
Project Duration
November 1 / 2013
- August 31 / 2016
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Big Questions
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Grant DOI*

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Joseph A. Bulbulia
Institution University of Auckland

Every religion is based on the premise that individuals matter. Despite the central importance that religions accord to each and every life, however, the personal consequences of religion remain fascinatingly unclear. Longitudinal studies offer unparalleled power for understanding how religion makes a difference to people throughout their lives. The current project supports the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Survey (NZAVS), a 20-year national longitudinal study that was launched in 2009 to document patterns of stability and change in values across New Zealand.

The NZAVS already contains questions about religion, but our project will extend its religion coverage and will provide critical infrastructure that will greatly improve its ability to sustain a long-term investigation of religion and personal well-being. Specifically, our project will enlarge the NZAVS religious community sample, and will place the investigators in face-to-face contact with participants throughout New Zealand.

The project will explore the following questions: 1)What are the different types of religious and moral orientations in New Zealand, and how are they related over time in a person's "spiritual character"? 2) How does spiritual character affect personal well-being over time? 3) How is spiritual character changing in New Zealand's third-largest city (Christchurch: population 367,700), as it recovers from a terrible earthquake that destroyed one-third of the city's buildings and killed one-hundred and eighty-five people?

This project hopes to produce peer-reviewed scholarly articles, media coverage, and a monograph for a broad scholarly audience and general public. The project offers the unprecedented opportunity for understanding the personal consequences of religion over time and across an entire nation, and will improve understanding about the spiritual dimensions of disaster recovery.

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