Religiousness and depression: Evidence for a main effect and the moderating influence of stressful life events

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American Psychological Association

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Smith, Timothy B.; McCullough, Michael E.; Poll, Justin
American Psychological Association
depressive symptoms; religiousness; extrinsic religious orientation; religious activities; religious coping; stressful life events; Counseling Psychology; Religion
article description
The association between religiousness and depressive symptoms was examined with meta-analytic methods across 147 independent investigations (N = 98,975). Across all studies, the correlation between religiousness and depressive symptoms was –.096, indicating that greater religiousness is mildly associated with fewer symptoms. The results were not moderated by gender, age, or ethnicity, but the religiousness–depression association was stronger in studies involving people who were undergoing stress due to recent life events. The results were also moderated by the type of measure of religiousness used in the study, with extrinsic religious orientation and negative religious coping (e.g., avoiding difficulties through religious activities, blaming God for difficulties) associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms, the opposite direction of the overall findings.