Religion, Spirituality, or Both?

In an earlier study (Religion and Personality Type), we wondered whether some types might distinguish between what it means to be religious and what it means to be spiritual. In that poll, Diplomat personality types, who typically show interest in spiritual and cosmic matters, did not strongly signal that they considered themselves religious. Much has been written about the differences between religion and spirituality. See, for example, the Wikipedia article discussing this idea. However, we wanted to discover if there were types that are more likely to distinguish between the two.

To find out, we asked our community whether they endorsed two statements, side-by-side: “You consider yourself a religious person” and “You are very spiritual”. True to our suspicions, in our latest study, 70.96% of Diplomats described themselves as spiritual, and only 35.83% described themselves as religious.

Personality type roles and spirituality

Within the Diplomat group, 40.27% claimed they were spiritual but not religious, with only 30.56% saying they were both religious and spiritual. 23.90% said they were neither religious nor spiritual, and a mere 5.28% saw themselves as only religious and not spiritual. Clearly, at least 45.55% of Diplomats, if not more, see religion and spirituality as separate entities.

On the other hand, the poll suggests the Sentinel personality types seem more likely to consider religion and spirituality to be the same. Of the Sentinels, 35.07% stated that they were both religious and spiritual, a higher percentage than those who claimed one, the other, or neither. Interestingly, the second most common response for Sentinels was denying being either religious or spiritual, at 31.73%. Only 22.14% claimed to be spiritual and not religious (compared to the Diplomats’ 40.27% for the same category), and only 11.06% of the Sentinels claimed to be religious but not spiritual.

This would suggest Sentinels are more likely to connect spirituality to a religion, whereas Diplomats are less likely to do so. Sentinels, more than any other group, connect with long-established institutions, including religious organizations. These personality types put weight on things that have a history and a fixed code. It’s reasonable to conclude that they are prone to linking their sense of spirituality to a creed or a religious group.

Diplomats, on the other hand, would be more likely to think of spirituality as a more universal matter. As they see it, spirituality may be part of a particular religious body or creed, but just as likely not. Personality types belonging to this group would agree with Deepak Chopra, who said, “Spirituality is meant to take us beyond our tribal identity into a domain of awareness that is more universal.” As a group, upholding tradition does not interest them and they are more likely to see established religion as something incidental in their lives.

Diplomats take their own path, relying on their intuition and their insights. While they might seek spiritual direction from books, it isn’t as likely for them to depend on a singular sacred text the way a Sentinel might. That would be too confining for a Diplomat’s style of thinking. These personality types would want to explore as many texts as they could looking for answers, if they had an interest.

But what about the Analysts and Explorers? As a group, both were more likely to say they were spiritual over religious. However, when divided into subgroups, those who claimed they were neither religious nor spiritual held the largest percentage (39.33% of the Analysts and 37.64% of the Explorers). This suggests that these two groups might also treat the two entities as separate things. However, it doesn’t matter so much, because neither religion nor spirituality has as much of an influence in the Analyst and Explorer groups as they do in the Diplomat and Sentinel groups.

As always, keep in mind this is about group tendencies and likelihoods. 22.75% of Analysts did say they were both religious and spiritual, as did 29.02% of Explorers. There is not a one-size-fits-all aspect to this research. While individual Explorers or individuals in any other group may have marked likenesses, they are not all exactly alike.

Join the discussion by leaving and comment and letting us know what religion and spirituality mean in your life. How does it fit with your personality?