An exploration of spiritual superiority: The paradox of self-enhancement
SourceEuropean Journal of Social Psychology, 51, 1, (2021), pp. 152-165
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI SCP
European Journal of Social Psychology
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
Spiritual training is assumed to reduce self‐enhancement, but may have the paradoxical effect of boosting superiority feelings. It can, thus, operate like other self‐enhancement tools and contribute to a contingent self‐worth that depends on one's spiritual accomplishments. In three studies (N=533, N=2223, N=965), a brief measure of spiritual superiority showed good internal consistency and discriminant validity. As predicted, it was distinctly related to spiritual contingency of self‐worth, illustrating that the self‐enhancement function of spirituality is similar to other contingency domains. It was correlated with self‐esteem and, more strongly, with communal narcissism, corroborating the notion of spiritual narcissism. Spiritual Superiority scores were consistently higher among energetically trained participants than mindfulness trainees and were associated with supernatural overconfidence and self‐ascribed spiritual guidance. Our results illustrate that the self‐enhancement motive is powerful and deeply ingrained so that it can hijack methods intended to transcend the ego and, instead, adopt them to its own service.
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