Blessed assurance: religion, anxiety, and tranquility among US adults

Soc Sci Res. 2009 Sep;38(3):656-67. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2009.02.002.


A growing body of research investigates the possible relationships between religion and mental health. After developing a series of arguments linking various aspects of religion with anxiety and tranquility, we test relevant hypotheses using data from the 1996 Genera Social Survey. Results show that frequency of religious attendance and the belief in an afterlife are inversely associated with feelings of anxiety and positively associated with feelings of tranquility. However, frequency of prayer has no direct association with either outcome. Strong beliefs in the pervasiveness of sin are positively linked with anxiety but unrelated to tranquility. Finally, belief in an afterlife and frequency of prayer buffer the adverse effects of poor health and financial decline on anxiety. Implications of these find ings are discussed along with study limitations and promising directions for future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult