The Importance of Religion
Why Religion’s Burdens Are Light: From Religiosity to Implicit Self-Regulation
Sander Koole, Michael McCullough, Julius Kuhl & Peter Roelofsma
Personality and Social Psychology Review, February 2010, Pages 95-107
Abstract: To maintain religious standards, individuals must frequently endure aversive or forsake pleasurable experiences. Yet religious individuals on average display higher levels of emotional well-being compared to nonreligious individuals. The present article seeks to resolve this paradox by suggesting that many forms of religion may facilitate a self-regulatory mode that is flexible, efficient, and largely unconscious. In this implicit mode of self-regulation, religious individuals may be able to strive for high standards and simultaneously maintain high emotional well-being. A review of the empirical literature confirmed that religious stimuli and practices foster implicit self-regulation, particularly among individuals who fully internalized their religion’s standards. The present work suggests that some seemingly irrational aspects of religion may have important psychological benefits by promoting implicit self-regulation.
(Nod to Kevin L)
In our increasingly secular society, I think public commitment to environmentalism have taken the place of traditional religion, and likely have some of the same psychological benefits. The idea that "recycling is cheaper, no matter how much it costs," is clearly a religious claim, not a practical one....And you can see the religious fervor in the reactions, when someone points this out! (Check the comments, smell the incense)