Religious belief and devotion linked to sense of personal control

October 31, 2008 By April Kemick

(PhysOrg.com) -- An individual's level of commitment to religious rituals like praying and attending service is directly linked to their sense of personal control in life, according to new University of Toronto research.

U of T sociology professor Scott Schieman interviewed 1,800 Americans in a groundbreaking survey that examined the link between levels of religious beliefs and sense of personal control over events and outcomes in everyday life.

Among the study's surprising results:

People who believe in a powerful and influential God but aren't as strongly devoted to religious rituals like praying or attending service report a lower sense of personal control in their lives; by contrast, individuals who believe that God's will influences outcomes in everyday life do not report a deflated sense of personal control if they actively participate in religious rituals.

This study is published in the October issue of the journal Sociology of Religion.

"One might think the most devout religious practitioners would feel a lack of personal control in their lives because they have such faith in divine control," said Schieman. "Surprisingly, we found the opposite. It's those who believe in God but don't dedicate much time to practising religion who feel the least in control of their lives."

Schieman says these findings are particularly important in the current economic climate, when many people are losing their jobs, their homes and their savings.

"Some people feel unable to change the important events and outcomes in their daily lives. Some people turn to a divine power or authority for support. In some cases, this also implies a sense that one's own fate is influenced or determined by powerful external forces, especially God," Schieman said. "This notion of divine control is reflected in common phrases like 'It is all in God's hands.'"

Provided by University of Toronto

Explore further: Critics say Trump birth control rule ignores science

Related Stories

Critics say Trump birth control rule ignores science

October 11, 2017
The Trump administration's new birth control rule is raising questions among some doctors and researchers, who say it overlooks known benefits of contraception while selectively citing data that raise doubts about effectiveness ...

Small drop in measles vaccinations would have outsized effect, study estimates

July 24, 2017
Small reductions in childhood measles vaccinations in the United States would produce disproportionately large increases in the number of measles cases and in related public health costs, according to a new study by researchers ...

Why anecdotes aren't strong evidence when it comes to quitting smoking

August 4, 2017
In the early 1990s, I was the guest of the local health service in Broken Hill, New South Wales, during a national week promoting quitting smoking. I went on the local radio and the host invited ex-smokers to call in and ...

Abortion, contraception, pregnancy—how women's bodies became a battlezone

September 12, 2017
Outside, the mid-morning heat is stifling. It's not humid like the bustling metropolises of Mumbai or Kolkata; here in New Delhi it's a dry heat, the type of heat that exhausts you, made worse by a thick layer of dust which ...

Lag in brain donation hampers understanding of dementia in blacks

August 11, 2017
The question came as a shock to Dorothy Reeves: Would she be willing to donate her husband's brain for research?

Beliefs about genes, God, can change health communication strategies

March 12, 2012
Beliefs about nature and nurture can affect how patients and their families respond to news about their diagnosis, according to Penn State health communication researchers.

Recommended for you

Probing how Americans think about mental life

October 20, 2017
When Stanford researchers asked people to think about the sensations and emotions of inanimate or non-human entities, they got a glimpse into how those people think about mental life.

Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us

October 19, 2017
Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people, even in developed countries where hardly anybody comes into contact with them. Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists ...

Dutch courage—Alcohol improves foreign language skills

October 18, 2017
A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King's College London, shows that bilingual speakers' ability to speak a second ...

Inflamed support cells appear to contribute to some kinds of autism

October 18, 2017
Modeling the interplay between neurons and astrocytes derived from children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Brazil, say innate ...

Study suggests psychedelic drugs could reduce criminal behavior

October 18, 2017
Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators ...

Taking probiotics may reduce postnatal depression

October 18, 2017
Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago have found evidence that a probiotic given in pregnancy can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety.

6 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

makotech222
3.8 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2008
how ironic when you give control to some higher being you act like your more in control of yourself.
Mauricio
4.4 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2008
what do we control? the economy? the weather? our health? o.k. I understand that sometimes it seems that we can control at some extent our health, but it is pure illusion....
manojendu
4.4 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2008
This shows how religion misguides a person, making them feel they have control over something where they have none.
RrMm
5 / 5 (4) Nov 03, 2008
It never fails to amaze me how many people still subscribe to these primitive superstitions.
COCO
5 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2008
if we could all agree that mythology of all strains are in balance a negative aspect of our lives then we can start to make real progress. But there are too many people frightened to speak out agaisnt these childish beliefs.
makotech222
5 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2008
^^ cuz they dont want to burn in hell. lol

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.