Why are religious people happy? The effect of the social norm of religiosity across countries

Olga Stavrova*, Detlef Fetchenhauer, Thomas Schloesser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Drawing on social norms theories, we suggest that religiosity substantially increases subjective well-being if it is considered normative in a certain national context. In Study 1, we test this hypothesis using an indicator of a country's social norm of religiosity that includes both the national level of religiosity and the social desirability of religion. The results of a multilevel regression analysis suggest that religious individuals are on average happier and more satisfied with life than non-religious individuals. This effect is stronger in religious countries with dominant negative attitudes towards non-believers. In Study 2, we further examine whether the differences in social recognition of religious and non-religious individuals in countries where religiosity is normative account for this finding. The results of a moderated mediation analysis indicate that in religious countries, religious people report being treated with more respect, which partially explains their higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-105
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science Research
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Religion
  • Subjective well-being
  • Social norms
  • Social recognition
  • Cross-national differences
  • LIFE SATISFACTION
  • MULTILEVEL MODELS
  • HEALTH
  • HAPPINESS
  • EMOTIONS
  • PERSPECTIVE
  • HYPOTHESIS
  • DEPRESSION
  • BOUNDARIES
  • ATTENDANCE

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