Are religious people better adjusted psychologically?

Psychological research has found that religious people feel great about themselves, with a tendency toward higher social self-esteem and better psychological adjustment than non-believers. But a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that this is only true in countries that put a high value on religion.

The researchers got their data from eDarling, a European that is affiliated with eHarmony. Like eHarmony, eDarling uses a long questionnaire to match clients with potential dates. It includes a question about how important your personal religious beliefs are and questions that get at social self-esteem and how psychologically well-adjusted people are. Jochen Gebauer of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Constantine Sedikides of the University of Southampton, and Wiebke Neberich of Affinitas GmbH in Berlin, the company behind eDarling, used 187,957 people's answers to do their analyses.

As in other studies, the researchers found that more had higher social self-esteem and where psychologically better adjusted. But they suspected that the reason for this was that religious people are better in living up to their societal values in religious societies, which in turn should lead to higher social self-esteem and better . The people in the study lived in 11 different European countries, ranging from Sweden, the least religious country on the planet, to devoutly Catholic Poland. They used people's answers to figure out how religious the different countries were and then compared the countries.

On average, believers only got the psychological benefits of being religious if they lived in a country that values religiosity. In countries where most people aren't religious, religious people didn't have higher self-esteem. "We think you only pat yourself on the back for being religious if you live in a social system that values religiosity," Gebauer says. So a very religious person might have high social in religious Poland, but not in non-religious Sweden.

In this study, the researchers made comparisons between different countries, but another study found a similar effect within one country, between students at religious and non-religious universities. "The same might be true when you compare different states in the U.S. or different cities," Gebauer says. "Probably you could mimic the same result in Germany, if you compare Bavaria where many people are religious and Berlin where very few people are religious."

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Jan 19, 2012
An alternative explanation is that people lie on dating sites to present themselves favorably--in societies where religion is valued this includes statements indicating "self esteem" and psychological adjustment and religious faith. In societies where religion is not valued this includes statements indicating "self esteem" and psychological adjustment and things other than religious faith. The result of this is to create a false statistical correlation between making statements about "self esteem" and psychological adjustment, religious faith and whether a society values religion.

Jan 20, 2012
how about a better one in countries where religion is not practiced, there is no social validation and commiseration from others and how they are doing. Everyone does the same because everyone is alone. The religious people in religious places, have much more regular time with others in more integrated ways than the non religious and donate their time more so what happens is that they get a boost from good social interactions, being a part of something, and so on do also note that in non religious countries the problems created by social engineers, and others designers, tend to be blamed upon religion so a person in those countries might tend to feel bad as they are the source of their countries problems so says the message however, funny how one cant show that correlation to problem source by comparing Poland and Sweden the least religious still has the problems that they blame on the religious and assumed qualities of it in ignorance! At least I admit that its a guess and t

Jan 20, 2012
Ignorance is bliss... this is very true.

Jan 20, 2012
Picture if you will, life in a pleistocene tribe. People living close together in a palisaded compound, women gossiping and working on preparing food or making clothing, children running to and fro, laughing, men off hunting and gathering. In the evening everybody would sit around the fire eating, swapping stories, singing and dancing perhaps. Ah life was good back then wasnt it?

Misfits were culled at birth or tormented by others. Conflict with other tribes was endemic. Death from predation, disease, and accident was a common occurrance.

These people lived very differently than we do today here in the west. Were they happier? Perhaps. They got more vitamin D for one thing. But they had evolved in the context of close knit tribal society for a few million years. This interaction with the flatscreen is relatively new to us.

As tropical animals we really dont belong in northern environs. Depression may be only a natural tendency to hibernate. Are people happier in miami beach?

Jan 20, 2012
Happiness is relative to your current situation in relation to your preferred situation.

Basically, if you are a religious person and live around mostly non believers, you will feel out of place and out of touch with others like yourself and thus will not feel as happy as you could around many like you.

This study could apply to anything. People who love airplanes are happier in cities with airports. People who love boats are happier in cities around bodies of water.

What an odd study.

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