Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Preliminary work by Sanderson (2008; Bufford & Sanderson, 2009) examining data on burnout among staff members in an adolescent residential treatment program found that spiritual practices distinguished Buddhist and Christian participants and were related to burnout. They suggested that spiritual practices may prove useful in further understanding religiosity. However, some of their findings were puzzling. Sanderson (2009) found high burnout and low spiritual well-being, but unexpectedly spiritual well-being was not related to religious orientation. In an effort to further understand these findings, the present study performed a cluster analysis on Sanderson’s data and identified two clusters of participants. Cluster One consisted of all Buddhists and over half the Christian participants; Cluster Two contained the remaining Christian participants. Participants in Cluster One scored higher on burnout and lower on spiritual well-being that those in Cluster Two. These results suggest that spiritual practices may at times be better predictors than self-reported religious identity and may aid in clarifying the often-inconsistent findings in the empirical psychology of religion. Those who describe themselves as Buddhist in this sample appear to engage in syncretistic practices rather than traditional Buddhism; results may not generalize well. Study of spiritual practices appears promising. (Poster presented at teh Christian Association for Psychological Studies, Kansas City KS, April 2010).