ARLINGTON, Virginia, FEB. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A recent study shows that women who are regular church attendees are more immune to the ups and downs of life, and are happier overall.
Alexander Ross of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences authored the study that examined a phenomenon of decreased self-reported happiness in American women over the past 36 years.
Ross found that church attendance was a significant factor in the reported happiness of women.
In general, a drop in church attendance in the time period from 1972 to 2008 was seen to directly affect the happiness of the women in the study.
Ross noted that “the shift over time to lower attendance, a behavior that is associated with decreased general happiness, explains in part the decline in women’s happiness.”
As well, the women who reported regular church attendance were shown to be more immune to the elements that produced the general decline in happiness among their other contemporaries.
“If one supposes that the changes that our society has experienced over the past few decades have had a net detrimental impact on women’s happiness,” Ross observed, “the analysis supports the conclusion that it is women who attend church who have been less susceptible to that impact.”
The study, published in the most recent volume of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, noted that church attendance declined for men as well during this period, but there was no significant drop in overall happiness for males.
Ross explained that this could be due to the fact that women changed their churchgoing habits over the years more drastically than men, with females reporting a greater drop in attendance than males.
As well, he noted that “although role expectations for both men and women have changed over the past few decades, it could be argued that they have changed more dramatically for women.”
“In the context of a greater sense of social disruption,” Ross explained, “perhaps women benefited more than men from the stabilizing influence of regular church attendance.”
“To the extent to which it provides a transcendent meaning to life and opportunities to form close personal ties,” Ross theorized, “regular church attendance ought to increase a person’s sense of well-being and satisfaction with life.”
He concluded, “St. Augustine would not be surprised at our findings, for he taught that mankind’s chief good is God, and the happy life exists when that which is man’s chief good is both loved and possessed.”
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