Spirituality and ethnocultural empathy among Italian adolescents: The mediating role of religious identity formation processes.

The current study examined the unique and combined roles of spirituality and religious identity formation processes on ethnocultural empathy among Italian youth. Spirituality was conceptualized as a desire for self-transcendence. Ethnocultural empathy entails concern for those of other cultural backgrounds. It was hypothesized that spirituality would predict ethnocultural empathy indirectly by way of religious identity commitment and in-depth exploration. Religious identity commitment is the extent to which people have invested in a particular religious worldview and community, whereas religious identity in-depth exploration is the degree to which they are actively seeking to learn more about their religious belief system. The sample included 301 Italian adolescents. Structural equation modeling revealed that spirituality positively and strongly predicted both mediators (i.e., religious identity commitment and in-depth exploration) and that it had a moderate, positive direct link to ethnocultural empathy. The mediators were in turn significantly related to ethnocultural empathy, with the link being negative for commitment but positive for in-depth exploration. Finally, both of these indirect paths from spirituality to ethnocultural empathy were statistically significant. This suggests that spirituality may improve prosocial relations with those of other cultures by encouraging people to further explore their religious worldviews. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)