Original Paper

Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 651-662

First online:

Belief in Life-After-Death, Beliefs About the World, and Psychiatric Symptoms

  • Kevin J. FlannellyAffiliated withThe Spears Research Institute, HealthCare Chaplaincy Email author 
  • , Christopher G. EllisonAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • , Kathleen GalekAffiliated withThe Spears Research Institute, HealthCare Chaplaincy
  • , Nava R. SiltonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Marymount Manhattan College

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Abstract

Data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey were analyzed by structural equation modeling (SEM) to test five hypotheses: (1) that religious commitment is positively related to belief in life-after-death; that belief in life-after-death is (2) positively related to belief in an equitable world, and (3) negatively related to belief in a cynical world; (4) that belief in a cynical world has a pernicious association with psychiatric symptoms; and (5) that belief in an equitable world has a salubrious association with psychiatric symptoms. As hypothesized, religious commitment was positively related to belief in life-after-death (β = .74). In turn, belief in life-after-death was negatively associated with belief in a cynical world (β = −.16) and positively associated with belief in an equitable world (β = .36), as hypothesized. SEM further confirmed that belief in a cynical world had a significant pernicious association with all five classes of psychiatric symptoms (β’s = .11 to .30). Belief in an equitable world had a weaker and less consistent salubrious association with psychiatric symptoms. The results are discussed in the context of ETAS theory.

Keywords

Life-after-death Mental health Psychiatric symptoms Religion Religious beliefs Evolution ETAS theory