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Article

Belief in God and Psychological Distress: Is It the Belief or Certainty of the Belief?

1
Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
2
Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, School of Nursing, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.
Academic Editor: Hans Zollner
Religions 2021, 12(9), 757; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090757
Received: 2 July 2021 / Revised: 11 August 2021 / Accepted: 2 September 2021 / Published: 13 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Atheism)
Research on the relationship between belief in God and mental health is scarce and often limited to comparing group differences in mental health across various self-reported religious identities (e.g., atheists, agnostics, believers). To advance this work, we focused on how the extent of belief in God related to three indices of psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and stress) in a sample of undergraduate students (N = 632) with a variety of religious identities. We used a model comparison approach to evaluate both linear and curvilinear relationships between belief in God and psychological distress and tested potential mediating pathways for linear relationships. The findings revealed that belief in God was negatively linearly related to depression; this relationship was fully mediated by meaning in life, feeling comforted by God, positive religious coping, positive reappraisal, and substance use coping. In contrast, belief in God was curvilinearly related to anxiety but unrelated to stress. These results suggest that both strength and certainty of the belief in God may be important in understanding religion’s relationship with psychological distress. View Full-Text
Keywords: God; depression; anxiety; stress; atheism; curvilinear; certainty God; depression; anxiety; stress; atheism; curvilinear; certainty
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MDPI and ACS Style

Magin, Z.E.; David, A.B.; Carney, L.M.; Park, C.L.; Gutierrez, I.A.; George, L.S. Belief in God and Psychological Distress: Is It the Belief or Certainty of the Belief? Religions 2021, 12, 757. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090757

AMA Style

Magin ZE, David AB, Carney LM, Park CL, Gutierrez IA, George LS. Belief in God and Psychological Distress: Is It the Belief or Certainty of the Belief? Religions. 2021; 12(9):757. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090757

Chicago/Turabian Style

Magin, Zachary E., Adam B. David, Lauren M. Carney, Crystal L. Park, Ian A. Gutierrez, and Login S. George 2021. "Belief in God and Psychological Distress: Is It the Belief or Certainty of the Belief?" Religions 12, no. 9: 757. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090757

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