Who benefits from religion?


Photo credit

Many studies have documented the benefits of religious involvement. Indeed, highly religious people tend to be healthier, live longer, and have higher levels of sub- jective well-being. While religious involvement offers clear benefits to many, in this paper we explore whether it may also be detrimental to some. Specifically, we examine in detail the relation between religious involvement and subjective well-being. We first replicate prior findings showing a positive relation between religiosity and subjective well-being. However, our results also suggest that this relation may be more complex than previously thought. While fervent believers benefit from their involvement, those with weaker beliefs are actually less happy than those who do not ascribe to any religion—atheists and agnostics. These results may help explain why—in spite of the well-documented benefits of religion—an increasing number of people are abandoning their faith. As commitment wanes, religious involvement may become detrimental to well-being, and individuals may be better off seeking new affiliations.

Source: “Who Benefits from Religion?” from Soc Indic Res (2011) 101:1–15

One of the authors of this study is Dan Ariely. I highly recommend his books Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home.

You should follow me on Facebook here. I’ve started posting extra content on that page. Don’t miss out; go here and hit the “Like” button.

You can also subscribe via RSS, Twitter, or email.  Check out the site’s most popular posts of all time.

Related Posts:

Is there a connection between atheism and intelligence?

How to easily get strangers to be kinder to you

Can you get the well-being benefits of religion without being religious?

Do churches offer economic incentives to priests to increase membership?

Are Catholics more likely to exhibit OCD symptoms?

Does the US News and World Report college ranking discriminate against religiously affiliated schools?

Does believing in witchcraft make you happier?

Priest, Minister and Rabbi: Which one does the most for the public good?

Is it religion that provides happiness or just certainty about the world?

How does religious denomination affect household finance?

Does the Biblical character Job meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Do laws against Muslim veils actually increase religiosity?

Which is a stronger religious motivator: getting into heaven or avoiding hell?

Are religious people more generous, giving and cooperative?

Does “will to live” really make a difference in when you die?

Why do people say they’re “Spiritual but not religious”?

Does religion stress us out or relieve anxiety?


Subscribe to the newsletter

Over 500,000 people have subscribed to my newsletter. Join now and get the beginning of my new book free:

I want to subscribe!