Examining spirituality over time: Latent growth curve and individual growth curve analyses

Mark Brennan*, Daniel K. Mroczek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Research on spirituality and religiousness has gained growing attention in recent years; however, most studies have used cross-sectional designs. As research on this topic evolves, there has been increasing recognition of the need to examine these constructs and their effects through the use of longitudinal designs. Beyond repeated-measures ANOVA and OLS regression models, what tools are available to examine these constructs over time? The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of two cutting-edge statistical techniques that will facilitate longitudinal investigations of spirituality and religiousness: latent growth curve analysis using structural equation modeling (SEM) and individual growth curve models. The SEM growth curve approach examines change at the group level, with change over time expressed as a single latent growth factor. In contrast, individual growth curve models consider longitudinal change at the level of the person. While similar results may be obtained using either method, researchers may opt for one over the other due to the strengths and weaknesses associated with these methods. Examples of applications of both approaches to longitudinal studies of spirituality and religiousness are presented and discussed, along with design and data considerations when employing these modeling techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-29
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Religious Gerontology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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