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Do Optimism and Pessimism Mediate the Relationship Between Religious Coping and Existential Well-Being? Examining Mechanisms in a Norwegian Population Sample

In the secular context of Norway, we investigated the mediating roles of both optimism and pessimism in the relationship between six dimensions of religious coping as measured by the Religious Coping Activities Scale (RCOPE) and existential well-being (EWB). The moderating effect of long-standing health problems on these relationships was also examined. This cross-sectional study was conducted in 2009 among Norwegians 18 to 75 years of age. Results from structural equation models showed different mechanisms for optimism and pessimism: When optimism was tested as a mediator, the RCOPE factors of spiritually based coping, support, avoidance, and deeds had a direct effect on EWB. Contrary to this, when pessimism was tested as a mediator, the RCOPE factors of spiritually based coping, support, avoidance, and discontent had an indirect effect on well-being through pessimism. The results from our multiple-group structural equation models generally supported our expectations that the relationships between religious coping, optimism, pessimism, and well-being were stronger for those with health problems compared to those without health problems. This study shows that a relationship between religious coping and well-being may be evident even if the context is highly secular, and it adds to the literature an understanding of the separate roles of optimism and pessimism to this relationship.

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