Faith and gray matter: New study finds no relationship between brain structure and religiosity


Religion and neurology often seem at odds; an extension of the questionable chasm separating spirituality and science. Indeed, in attempting to explain religious faith, neuroscientists have often sought to highlight subtle differences in brain structure that might confirm a deficiency here or reduction there. A new, preregistered study out of the Netherlands, published in the … Read more

New research indicates religion protected mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak but also undermined efforts to save lives


Religion may have helped prevent Americans from experiencing mental distress during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak but, according to new research, it also appears to be linked to undercutting efforts to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. The study has recently been published in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. … Read more

New study links intrinsic religious motivation to higher-level patterns of thought


New research provides evidence that specific forms of religious motivation are associated with higher-level patterns of thought. The findings, which appear in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, shed light on the cognitive underpinnings of the relationship between religion and meaning in life. “I became interested in the psychology of religion after having … Read more

Study of Catholic sisters helps point to the neurological correlates of prayer and mindfulness


Prayer is not often couched in terms of meditation and mindfulness, although the two states share many behavioral and psychological similarities. Both involve mental calm, for example, as well as introspection, daily or regular observation, and certain contextual and behavioral practices, like sitting still in a quiet space. Likewise, little research has been devoted to … Read more

Religion appears to influence motivations to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic


Both religious and non-religious medical students volunteered to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland, according to new research published in the Journal of Religion and Health. But the study found that altruistic motivations were more common among religious students, while egoistic motivations were more common among the non-religious. “Our research was a part of … Read more

Religion is a driving force behind the gender wage gap, study finds


New research published in the Academy of Management Journal indicates that religion perpetuates the gender wage gap. The findings provide evidence that men tend to earn significantly more than women in societies with heightened religiosity. “Management researchers have called religion ‘a benign and positive force in business.’ Because of that, we are seeing these policies … Read more

Religion mitigates feelings of depression by providing a sense of meaning, study suggests


It has often been said that surrendering to a higher power can bring happiness, and this is certainly a sentiment shared by many followers of faiths around the world. A new study published in Trends in Psychology has provided empirical evidence for this claim by examining the relationship between religiosity and depression symptoms among 279 … Read more

Research sheds light on the cultural and psychological correlates of religion


Psychology is one of the foremost scientific methods for understanding the phenomenon of organized religion and its cognitive, emotional, moral and social dimensions. To explore how these psychological elements map onto and mediate the subjective religious experience, an international team of researchers investigated consistencies and differences within and across cultures from 14 different countries. Previous … Read more

Study: Reflecting on scripture has a physiologically identifiable stress dampening effect for Christians


In a recently-published study in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, researchers found evidence that reflecting on biblical scripture impacted subsequent cardiovascular stress reactivity among Christian college students. The findings provide new insights into how religious practices can influence psychophysiological processes. “I have a long-term interest in religion/spirituality and health and, in particular, trying … Read more

Study pinpoints neural basis for the interplay between a close relationship with God and enhanced sense of control


A recent study offers new evidence that having a close relationship with God serves the psychological purpose of enhancing one’s sense of control. The study was published in Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. Spiritual belief is a fundamental aspect of human culture, dating back to ancient times. Psychology researchers have explored this tendency toward supernatural … Read more