Assistant Professor of Sociology Jaime Kucinskas is the lead author of a paper published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. “States of Spiritual Awareness by Time, Activity, and Social Interaction” examines spiritual awareness within people’s day-to-day lives.
Building upon prior research, Kucinskas and her co-authors, Bradley R. E. Wright and D. Matthew Ray of the University of Connecticut and John Ortberg of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, used a smartphone-based experience sampling method (S-ESM) to look at when and where spiritual awareness is likely to arise, and the contexts in which it is rare.
A relatively new research technique, S-ESM gathers data from surveys texted to participants at random times throughout the day. This method gives real-time measurement of the participants’ thoughts, feelings and attitudes and minimizes problems of recall associated with traditional retrospective surveys or interviews.
In general, the study showed a patterned variation in people’s spiritual awareness within their daily lives and that “the majority of participants experienced God or the divine intermittently, rather than in a constant manner, throughout the course of their daily activities.”
The researchers found that “spiritual awareness varied somewhat across time, with participants being most likely to experience the sacred on Sundays and in the morning. The pattern of spiritual awareness across day of the week varied by religious service attendance, with those who frequently attended services experiencing less awareness on Saturdays but more on Sundays, than frequent attendees.”
They said the results overall “suggest that people’s experiences of the sacred are related to both their dynamic, moment-to-moment activities and their more habitual behaviors in a variety of ways, which depend on the activity at hand.”