Happiness Found in Next Pew Over: Religion Aids Well-Being Via Social Networks, Study Finds

By Bower, Bruce | Science News, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Happiness Found in Next Pew Over: Religion Aids Well-Being Via Social Networks, Study Finds


Bower, Bruce, Science News


When it comes to feeling good about one's life, friendliness is next to godliness.

Personal well-being blossoms among U.S. adults who identify strongly with their religion, regularly attend church and have three or more close friends in their congregation, say sociologists Robert Putnam of Harvard University and Chaeyoon Lim of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Members of this devoutly connected group cite especially high levels of satisfaction regardless of how many or how few friends they have outside their congregation, Lim and Putnam report in the December American Sociological Review.

"Our evidence shows that it is not really going to church and listening to sermons or praying that makes people happier, but making church-based friends and building social networks there," Lim says.

The new findings apply to mainline and evangelical Protestants and to Catholics. Too few people from other religions were surveyed to make comparisons.

Researchers have long noted that religious people report higher levels of happiness than nonreligious folk. …

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Happiness Found in Next Pew Over: Religion Aids Well-Being Via Social Networks, Study Finds
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