Study finds religion helps us gain self-control

Thinking about religion gives people more self-control on later, unrelated tasks; according to results from a series of recent Queen's University study.

"After unscrambling sentences containing religiously oriented words, participants in our studies exercised significantly more ," says psychology graduate student and lead researcher on the study, Kevin Rounding.

Study participants were given a sentence containing five words to unscramble. Some contained religious themes and others did not. After unscrambling the sentences, participants were asked to complete a number of tasks that required self-control – enduring discomfort, delaying gratification, exerting patience, and refraining from impulsive responses.

Participants who had unscrambled the sentences containing religious themes had more self-control in completing their tasks.

"Our most interesting finding was that religious concepts were able to refuel self-control after it had been depleted by another unrelated task," says Mr. Rounding. "In other words, even when we would predict people to be unable to exert self-control, after completing the religiously themed task they defied logic and were able to muster self-control."

"Until now, I believed was a matter of faith; people had little 'practical' use for religion," Mr. Rounding explains. "This research actually suggests that religion can serve a very useful function in society. People can turn to religion not just for transcendence and fears regarding death and an after-life but also for practical purposes."

Other members of the research team include psychology graduate student Albert Lee and Queen's professors Jill Jacobson and Li-Jun Ji. The study was published in Psychological Science.

Provided by Queen's University
Citation: Study finds religion helps us gain self-control (2012, January 24) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-religion-gain-self-control.html
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