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Spiritual Struggles among Atheists: Links to Psychological Distress and Well-Being

1
Psychology Department, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA
2
Department of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2018, 9(8), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080242
Received: 13 July 2018 / Revised: 4 August 2018 / Accepted: 7 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
Religious and spiritual struggles (R/S struggles)—tension or conflicts regarding religious or spiritual matters—have been robustly linked to greater psychological distress and lower well-being. Most research in this area has relied on samples consisting predominantly of participants who believe in god(s). Limited research has examined R/S struggles among atheists, generally conflating them with agnostics and other nontheists. This study investigated the prevalence of R/S struggles among atheists and compared atheists to theists in two samples (3978 undergraduates, 1048 Internet workers). Results of a multilevel model showed that atheists experience less demonic, doubt, divine, moral, and overall R/S struggles than theists, but similar levels of interpersonal and ultimate meaning struggles. Correlation and regression analyses among atheists demonstrated links between moral, ultimate meaning, and overall R/S struggles and greater distress (depression and anxiety symptoms) as well as lower well-being (life satisfaction and meaning in life). Even after controlling neuroticism, ultimate meaning struggles continued to predict lower well-being and higher distress across samples; moral struggles also predicted distress independently. This study demonstrates the relevance of R/S struggles to atheists and reinforces the applicability of previous results to atheist samples, but also highlights substantial differences between atheists and theists in certain R/S struggles. View Full-Text
Keywords: atheism; religion; spirituality; depression; anxiety; spiritual struggles atheism; religion; spirituality; depression; anxiety; spiritual struggles
MDPI and ACS Style

Sedlar, A.E.; Stauner, N.; Pargament, K.I.; Exline, J.J.; Grubbs, J.B.; Bradley, D.F. Spiritual Struggles among Atheists: Links to Psychological Distress and Well-Being. Religions 2018, 9, 242. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080242

AMA Style

Sedlar AE, Stauner N, Pargament KI, Exline JJ, Grubbs JB, Bradley DF. Spiritual Struggles among Atheists: Links to Psychological Distress and Well-Being. Religions. 2018; 9(8):242. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080242

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sedlar, Aaron E., Nick Stauner, Kenneth I. Pargament, Julie J. Exline, Joshua B. Grubbs, and David F. Bradley. 2018. "Spiritual Struggles among Atheists: Links to Psychological Distress and Well-Being" Religions 9, no. 8: 242. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080242

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