[News item] Religion, spirituality influence health in different but complementary ways — ScienceDaily
March 28, 2014
Oregon State University
Religion and spirituality have distinct but complementary influences on health, new research indicates. A new theoretical model defines the two distinct pathways. “Religion helps regulate behavior and health habits, while spirituality regulates your emotions, how you feel,” explains one of the authors.
Although I am not sure if there really is a cause/effect here, it is an interesting study. Perhaps self control is related to a cluster of factors, and religion is one?
From the Medical News Today article of Wed Jan 25, 2012
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 self-control,” 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 religion 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.”
- Queen’s study finds religion helps us gain self-control (esciencenews.com)
- Queen’s study finds religion helps us gain self-control (eurekalert.org)
- Courting rules: how men use self-control to make relationships count for God (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
DETROIT – Brigid Waldron-Perrine, Ph.D., a recent graduate from Wayne State University, and her mentor, Lisa J. Rapport, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, found that if traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims feel close to a higher power, it can help them rehabilitate. The study was recently published in Rehabilitation Psychology.
[Abstract only, Paid subscription needed to access full text of the article.
Traumatic brain injury is a disruption of normal brain function after a head injury and affects 1.7 million Americans annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those struggling with the long-term effects of TBI are at a heightened risk for mental and physical problems. Such problems can significantly inhibit rehabilitation outcomes and are therefore important to address in the context of rehabilitation efforts. And when TBI leaves people feeling stressed, less satisfied with life and functionally dependent on others, rehabilitation is the only option.
“Among healthy adults, religion and spirituality have shown strong association with improved life satisfaction and physical and mental health outcomes,” said Waldron-Perrine. But research about religion’s effect on TBI rehabilitation in particular is lacking….
- Brain surgeons analyze traumatic brain injuries in comic books (medicalxpress.com)
- Traumatic Brain Injuries – The Case of Asterix & Obelix (paul.kedrosky.com)
- Acupuncture Makes Strides in Treatment of Brain Injuries, PTSD (VIDEO) (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
From the December 7 Health Day news item
Spiritual aspects less significant for life satisfaction, survey finds
TUESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) — Regular churchgoers may lead more satisfying lives than stay-at-home folks because they create a network of close friends who provide important support, a new study suggests.
Conducted at the University of Wisconsin, the researchers found that 28 percent of people who attend church weekly say they are “extremely satisfied” with life as opposed to only 20 percent who never attend services. But the satisfaction comes from participating in a religious congregation along with close friends, rather than a spiritual experience, the study found.
Regular churchgoers who have no close friends in their congregations are no more likely to be very satisfied with their lives than those who never attend church, according to the research.
Study co-author Chaeyoon Lim said it’s long been recognized that churchgoers report more satisfaction with their lives. But, “scholars have been debating the reason,” he said.
“Do happier people go to church? Or does going to church make people happier?” asked Lim, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
This study, published in the December issue of the American Sociological Review, appears to show that going to church makes people more satisfied with life because of the close friendships established there.
Feeling close to God, prayer, reading scripture and other religious rituals were not associated with a prediction of greater satisfaction with life. Instead, in combination with a strong religious identity, the more friends at church that participants reported, the greater the likelihood they felt strong satisfaction with life……
In addition to church attendance, respondents were asked how many close friends they had in and outside of their congregations, and questions about their health, education, income, work and whether their religious identity was very important to their “sense of self.”
Respondents who said they experienced “God’s presence” were no more likely to report feeling greater satisfaction with their lives than those who did not. Only the number of close friends in their congregations and having a strong religious identity predicted feeling extremely satisfied with life.
One reason may be that “friends who attend religious services together give religious identity a sense of reality,” the authors said.
The study drew a skeptical response from one expert.
The study showed that religious identity is just as important as how many friends a person has in their congregation, said Koenig, also a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the university.
The way the data was analyzed ensured that the spiritual factors (prayer, feeling God’s love, etc.) would not be significant because people with a strong religious identity were controlled for, or not included in the analysis, according to Koenig.
“Religious identity is what is driving all these other factors,” said Koenig. Social involvement is important, “but so is faith.”
Lim said the data show that only the number of close friends at church correlates with higher satisfaction with life. The study acknowledged the importance of religious identity, as well as number of friends, suggesting that the two factors reinforce each other.
“Social networks forged in congregations and strong religious identities are the key variables that mediate the positive connection between religion and life satisfaction,” the study concluded.
Lim said he wanted to examine whether social networks in organizations such as Rotary Clubs, the Masons or other civic volunteer groups could have a similar impact, but it might be difficult.
“It’s hard to imagine any other organization that engages as many people as religion, and that has similar shared identity and social activities,” said Lim. “It’s not easy to think of anything that’s equivalent to that.”