Does Devoutness Delay Death? Psychological Investment in Religion and Its Association With Longevity in the Terman Sample

Michael E. McCullough, Howard S. Friedman, Craig K. Enders, Leslie R. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


Religious people tend to live slightly longer lives (M. E. McCullough, W. T. Hoyt, D. B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, & C. E. Thoresen, 2000). On the basis of the principle of social investment (J. Lodi-Smith & B. W. Roberts, 2007), the authors sought to clarify this phenomenon with a study of religion and longevity that (a) incorporated measures of psychological religious commitment; (b) considered religious change over the life course; and (c) examined 19 measures of personality traits, social ties, health behaviors, and mental and physical health that might help to explain the religion-longevity association. Discrete-time survival growth mixture models revealed that women (but not men) with the lowest degrees of religiousness through adulthood had shorter lives than did women who were more religious. Survival differences were largely attributable to cross-sectional and prospective between-class differences in personality traits, social ties, health behaviors, and mental and physical health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)866-882
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009



  • development
  • longevity
  • personality
  • religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology

Cite this