Religious involvement and subjective well-being

J Health Soc Behav. 1991 Mar;32(1):80-99.


This study examines the multifaceted relationships between religious involvement and subjective well-being. Findings suggest that the beneficent effects of religious attendance and private devotion reported in previous studies are primarily indirect, resulting from their respective roles in strengthening religious belief systems. The positive influence of religious certainty on well-being, however, is direct and substantial: individuals with strong religious faith report higher levels of life satisfaction, greater personal happiness, and fewer negative psychosocial consequences of traumatic life events. Further, in models of life satisfaction only, the positive influence of existential certainty is especially pronounced for older persons and persons with low levels of formal education. Finally, there are persistent denominational variations in life satisfaction, but not in happiness: nondenominational Protestants, liberal Protestants, and members of nontraditional groups such as Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses report greater life satisfaction than do their unaffiliated counterparts, even with the effects of other dimensions of religiosity held constant. Several directions for additional research on religion and psychological well-being are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological