THE "upside-down" values of the Kingdom of God, in which the
poor are blessed, protect the mental health of poor religious
people, and even that of poor non-religious people who live in
societies where such values are promoted, new research
Researchers at Humboldt University in Berlin and the University
of Southampton analysed data from almost 190,000 respondents, from
11 European countries, entered into eDarling, an online dating
site. Existing research suggests that a higher income is related to
better psychological well-being.
In the less religious cultures in the study (Sweden, Germany,
France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland), richer non-believers
reported better psychological well-being than poorer non-believers.
In the more religious cultures (Italy, Spain, Russia, Poland,
Turkey), however, this was not the case. The researchers concluded
that "culture-level religiosity buffers low-income's harms", even
for the non-religious living in these societies.
In both sets of cultures, poorer believers reported better
psychological adjustment than poorer non-believers. Again, the
researchers pointed to the "buffer" effect of religion, which
"bestows psychological benefits".
In the less religious cultures, richer believers were not better
adjusted than richer non-believers; and in the religious cultures,
richer believers reported worse psychological adjustment than
poorer ones. The researchers concluded that religious individuals'
"anti-wealth norms" reduce income's psychological benefits. They
suggest that even non-religious individuals may derive less
psychological benefit from wealth in religious cultures that
promote such norms.
The authors conclude: "As long as religiosity fosters
anti-wealth norms, it may undermine financial strivings and success
both at the individual and culture level."