The new research provides evidence that certain forms of religious motives are related to higher-level thinking patterns. This discovery was published in the journal “Religious Science Research” and clarified the cognitive basis of the relationship between religion and the meaning of life. Research author Jay L. Michaels said: “After teaching religion at a small liberal arts college where I worked before, I became interested in religious psychology.” “In the process of preparing the course, I learned hundreds of psychological and medical studies that show that people with religious beliefs have a lower risk of heart disease, better results after surgery, and a longer life span. For me, This is interesting because it was not yet clear what exactly contributed to these health benefits.”
“So, I speculate that religion may change the way people think,” Michaels said. “I especially started to test the theory of Dr. Crystal Park (University of Connecticut) that religion enhances the meaning of life. As we all know, meaning can help people cope with stress. My theory is that if this is accurate, then religion should change to help The underlying psychological process of perceiving meaning. This particular article is based on this logic.” In this study, 630 adults from 48 countries completed a cognitive assessment, asking them to choose the phrase that best describes a particular behavior. They can choose a high-level description (focus on why the action is performed) or a low-level description (focus on the mechanical aspects of the action). For example, one project asked whether “reading” is better described as “getting knowledge” or “below the printed matter.”
Participants also provided demographic information and completed surveys about their religious motives and spiritual beliefs. Researchers have found that religious people with stronger internal religious motives and stronger external personal religious motives also tend to have stronger spiritual beliefs, which in turn is related to thinking based on higher-level behaviors. In other words, participants who agreed with statements such as “I often have a strong sense of God’s presence” (internal religious belief) and “Pray for peace and happiness” (external personal religious belief) were more likely to describe reading as “Acquisition of knowledge”, this relationship is mediated by the power of spiritual beliefs, such as believing that God is omnipresent.
But external social and religious beliefs (“I go to church mainly because I like to meet people I know”) have nothing to do with these thinking patterns. In addition, among non-religious participants, there was no connection between religious motivation and higher-level thinking patterns. Michaels told PsyPost: “The main takeaway of this research is that people who actively pursue religion or spirituality and fully integrate it into their lives while discovering that it contributes to what they experience tend to think in a more meaningful way. “In other words, religious people and spiritual people tend to experience a more structured mindset and provide deeper meaning. This meaning can help become a spiritual pillar when encountering difficulties.” However, this study used a cross-sectional approach, which prevented the researchers from drawing any strong conclusions about causality.
“Like any research, my research has flaws,” Michaels explained. “It uses an investigative method, which means that we cannot draw conclusions that religion and spirituality make people think in a more meaningful way. This is just a relationship. Future work needs to use experimental techniques to determine whether there is a causal relationship. .” About 62% of the participants reported that they believe in a certain religion, of which Christianity is the most common religion. “My research used people from Western culture,” Michaels said. “This means that the data comes from people whose religious beliefs are primarily Judeo-Christian. We need to do more research on people from other beliefs. This is a major obstacle in the subfield of religious psychology.”