Religion gives people more self-control

Religion gives people more self-control

People muster greater self-control when they are given unrelated tasks, especially after thinking about religion.

For instance, participants, given a sentence containing five words to unscramble, with some containing religious themes and others not, exercised more restraint.

"After unscrambling sentences containing religiously oriented words, participants in our studies exercised significantly more self-control," says psychology graduate student Kevin Rounding from the Queen's University, who led the study.

Self-control involved tasks that included enduring discomfort, delaying gratification, exerting patience, and refraining from impulsive responses, adds Rounding, according to a Queen's statement.

"Our most interesting finding was that religious concepts were able to refuel self-control after it had been depleted by another unrelated task," says Rounding.

"In other words, even when we would predict people to be unable to exert self-control, after completing the religiously themed task they defied logic and were able to muster self-control."

"Until now, I believed religion was a matter of faith; people had little 'practical' use for religion," Rounding explains. "This research actually suggests that religion can serve a very useful function in society."

"People can turn to religion not just for transcendence and fears regarding death and an after-life but also for practical purposes," Rounding concluded.

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