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Religious Attendance and Happiness: Examining Gaps in the Current Literature—A Research Note

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Abstract:

Two major gaps exist in research examining the positive association between religious attendance and happiness. First, scholars have argued that this association may be because of people's perceived relationship with God or the social cohesion one experiences with other parishioners, but scholars have not studied both pathways simultaneously. Using nationally representative cross-sectional data (General Social Survey), I first examine the influence of one's perceived relationship with God and one's perceived social cohesion within the religious community on happiness. One's perceived relationship with God is more strongly associated with happiness than is social cohesion. Second, scholars overwhelmingly use religious attendance as the independent variable, with happiness as the dependent variable. Using two waves of data from a nationally representative panel study (National Survey of Families and Households), I then examine the relationship between religious attendance and happiness over time, finding that religious attendance has a greater effect on happiness than happiness has on religious attendance.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01528.x

Affiliations: Department of SociologyUniversity of Notre Dame

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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