Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 449–461

Religious motivation and cardiovascular reactivity among middle aged adults: is being pro-religious really that good for you?


DOI: 10.1007/s10865-011-9352-6

Cite this article as:
Masters, K.S. & Knestel, A. J Behav Med (2011) 34: 449. doi:10.1007/s10865-011-9352-6


Religiousness has been observed to have a beneficial relationship with blood pressure, however, specific aspects of religiousness that interact with physiological mechanisms to influence this relationship are not known. This study explored laboratory cardiovascular reactivity (blood pressure, heart rate) to psychological stress among middle aged community dwelling individuals grouped by religious motivation (Intrinsic, Pro-religious, Non-religious). Measures of personality, cynical hostility, aggression, sense of coherence, and compassion were administered. Results indicated that the Pro-religious group demonstrated dampened reactivity compared to the other research groups. However, the Pro-religious also demonstrated a less positive psychological profile (e.g., greater cynicism, aggression, and neuroticism; less compassion and sense of coherence) and poorer self-reported health compared with the Intrinsic group and behavioral observations demonstrated that the Pro-religious were unreliable in keeping appointments and appeared rushed during the experiment. These findings indicate a complicated interface between personality, coping, and religious motivation in response to stressors and emphasize the need for naturalistic and longitudinal investigations of individuals who vary in terms of religious motivation.


Spirituality Religiousness Intrinsic Religious motivation Blood pressure Stress 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.Counseling and Career CenterBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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