Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 179–187

Social Buffering by God: Prayer and Measures of Stress

  • Jennifer N. Belding
  • Malcolm G. Howard
  • Anne M. McGuire
  • Amanda C. Schwartz
  • Janie H. Wilson
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10943-009-9256-8

Cite this article as:
Belding, J.N., Howard, M.G., McGuire, A.M. et al. J Relig Health (2010) 49: 179. doi:10.1007/s10943-009-9256-8

Abstract

Social buffering is characterized by attenuation of stress in the presence of others, with supportive individuals providing superior buffering. We were interested in learning if the implied presence of a supportive entity, God, would reduce acute stress. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: prayer, encouraging self-talk, and control. They were subsequently placed in a stressful situation. Self ratings of stress were lower among the prayer and self-talk conditions relative to controls. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures only among those who prayed were lower than controls; however, prayer and self-talk did not differ. Prayer alone did not significantly reduce stress, perhaps because the majority of students in the prayer condition did not consider reading a prayer to constitute praying.

Keywords

Social buffering Stress Prayer Blood pressure Anxiety 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer N. Belding
    • 1
  • Malcolm G. Howard
    • 1
  • Anne M. McGuire
    • 1
  • Amanda C. Schwartz
    • 1
  • Janie H. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentGeorgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA