Results from a new study demonstrate that religious people tend to feel better about themselves and have a higher self-esteem than people who are non-believers. The study was published in the journal, Psychological Science. The results also concluded that this was especially true in countries where following religion is a significant part of the culture.
The study consisted of over 200,000 participants of which 47% were women. Those in the study provided an international response from 11 European countries. According to the article, studies on this topic have previously been conducted in the United States. Those studies found that religious people have better psychological health, less depression and more life satisfaction than non-religious people. The current study was designed to examine if this was the case in other countries.
The study included religious people from countries such as Russia, Poland and Turkey, where following a religion is applauded because it is popular and considered an important aspect of life. In such countries, religious believers had a higher social self-esteem and were better psychologically adjusted when compared to non-believers. In countries such as Sweden, Germany and France where religion is not valued and not considered an important part of life, non-believers barely differed in social self-esteem and psychological adjustment.
When all the data from the study was analyzed it showed that religious followers were the more psychologically healthier than non believers. The article also notes that given that the popularity of religion is on the decline in most European countries, the difference in psychological health between believers and non-believers is expected to decline.
Jochen Gebauer is from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In a Medical News Today Press Release he is quoted as saying “We think you only pat yourself on the back for being religious if you live in a social system that values religiosity. So a very religious person might have high social self esteem in religious Poland, but not in non-religious Sweden.”
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