Are People saying “I’m Spiritual” to just appear Attractive?

October 13, 2010

Is saying that you are "spiritual" sexier than conforming to a religion?

Apparently, many people find that the answer is yes. A recent study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review confirms how people obtain more respect for having an inner connection to divinity than for having an extrinsic membership in a church. It can even make a person seem more attractive. When you tell people how you enjoy some mysterious bond with God, you project greater self-worth and value, and others tend to heighten their appreciation for you.

If people (correctly) think that they typically get more respect for inner spirituality than any conformity to a creed, could that help explain why so many "non-religious" people still say that they accept some vague god or affirm spiritual notions? Leaving the church doesn't mean that religiosity is left behind. As the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture has reported, about half of the "Nones" -- those who don't affiliate with any religion -- are still retaining beliefs in a personal god or some higher power.

Psychological and sociological theories could account for the way that people leaving the church often won't abandon religious notions too. If people still get positive attention for keeping a spiritual orientation, that could help explain so much lingering spirituality in an increasingly secular nation. There are important social meanings attached to "being spiritual". Does it get people more dates?



#1 olvlzl (Guest) on Saturday October 16, 2010 at 3:47pm

Maybe it’s just that believers are better lovers.

#2 Eric Charles on Saturday October 16, 2010 at 7:02pm

There is probably also a safety factor - saying your “spiritual” is unlikely to offend the majority of religious people and unlikely to offend the majority of agnostics/atheists. On the other hand, committing is sure to piss someone off. So… if you are trying to get laid, better to make the safe bet. 

Were I still in the dating game, I would certainly not lead off by telling someone I was a flaming atheist. I’d give some wishy-washy answer. If they turned out too religious for my taste, I’d finish out that date politely. If they seemed as atheist as I am, I can talk more freely. Either way, why create unnecessary tension at a restaurant?

This supports the learning theory / operant conditioning style explanation you were getting to at the end. We no longer live in a world where it is common for people to sort strongly by belief system, and so we learn to take positions that get reinforced and not punished.

#3 Robert Schneider on Saturday October 16, 2010 at 9:37pm

I’m with Eric Charles, Comment #2.  Saying one is “spiritual” is a value-neutral assertion that does not trigger the religious’ gag reflex over the word “atheist” or “atheism.”  The need to pin one’s position down more tightly often never comes up, so why start with the more specific assertion?

#4 olvlzl (Guest) on Sunday October 17, 2010 at 3:21am

Naw, it’s that believers are better lovers.

#5 Jen (Guest) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 at 6:36am

I don’t think people are consciously trying to appear more attractive. I feel like you are reversing the causation. I think a lot of people genuinely think it is better to believe in “something,” no matter how vague, than in nothing, but find religion repressive and unsatisfying. They aren’t sure what they actually believe in, but they are certain there must be something. People tend to be attracted to others they see as being like them, and so as the number of people who are merely “spiritual” grows, the attractiveness of that position increases as well.

#6 Robert Schneider on Tuesday October 19, 2010 at 6:40am

Jen wrote:  “People tend to be attracted to others they see as being like them,...”

Exactly, so as more people begin to NOT believe, they face the conundrum of still wanting to remain attractive… or wanting to not close off opportunities un-necessarily at first meeting.

Using the term “spiritual” is like someone saying, “I’m independent, I vote for the person” rather than identifying as Democrat or Republican.  It avoids arguments while leaving all possible options open.

#7 Grace (Guest) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 at 3:14pm

I always ask them when they say that: “So do you believe in spirits”. They are taken aback by that question.

#8 Grace (Guest) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 at 3:18pm

To me they don’t look more attractive, but sillier. I equate “spiritual” people to people who read horoscopes, believe in the power of mind control and crystals, love UPOs and conspiracy theories, pyschics and alikes.

Yes, I agree with the others it is a way for those sitting on the fence to express themselves in a socially acceptable way.

#9 Gray (Guest) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 at 12:14pm

I consider myself “Spiritual,” and it’s because of how I believe in God, the afterlife, and the purpose of living - not because I think people will be attracted to me because of it. For the sake of argument, however, I think a lot of people may feel more comfortable around someone considered “spiritual” because they won’t feel judged or looked down upon because they see things differently. I went the way I did because I thought it was the best way to accept and love everyone for who they are - the least judgmental. Like Eric said above - it certainly makes a first date conversation easier.

In response to Grace - yes, some may be into horoscopes and crystals and whatnot - but it’s different for everyone. I’m not into that - although I read into it just out of curiosity. Not my thing. I understand that usually when people confirm themselves to a particular religion (not all , but many), it’s natural to think that others who don’t follow the same path are wrong, or silly, as you call it. And that’s exactly why I left religion - I just didn’t want to think that way about other people. As you can see - I guess that’s one way a spiritual person may judge someone else - I get very upset/irked when I hear someone criticize or condemn another person’s religion or beliefs. Especially right now with the intolerance demonstrated in the US against Muslims. It fuels very negative energy.

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