Why religion's burdens are light: From religiosity to implicit self-regulation

Sander L. Koole, Michael E. McCullough, Julius Kuhl, Peter H.M.P. Roelofsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

76 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2010

Keywords

  • Automatic process
  • Implicit process
  • Religion
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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