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Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 246–261 | Cite as

Beliefs about God, Psychiatric Symptoms, and Evolutionary Psychiatry

  • Kevin J. Flannelly
  • Kathleen Galek
  • Christopher G. Ellison
  • Harold G. Koenig
Original Paper

Abstract

The present study analyzed the association between specific beliefs about God and psychiatric symptoms among a representative sample of 1,306 U.S. adults. Three pairs of beliefs about God served as the independent variables: Close and Loving, Approving and Forgiving, and Creating and Judging. The dependent variables were measures of General Anxiety, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsion, Paranoid Ideation, Social Anxiety, and Somatization. As hypothesized, the strength of participants’ belief in a Close and Loving God had a significant salutary association with overall psychiatric symptomology, and the strength of this association was significantly stronger than that of the other beliefs, which had little association with the psychiatric symptomology. The authors discuss the findings in the context of evolutionary psychiatry, and the relevance of Evolutionary Threat Assessment Systems Theory in research on religious beliefs.

Keywords

Brain Evolution God Religion Psychiatry Psychiatric symptoms 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported, in part, by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The authors wish to thank HealthCare Chaplaincy’s Research Assistant Kathryn M. Murphy for helping to prepare the manuscript and Research Librarian Helen P. Tannenbaum for her assistance in locating and obtaining pertinent literature. The authors also wish to thank an anonymous reviewer of the manuscript for his critique and insightful suggestions.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin J. Flannelly
    • 1
  • Kathleen Galek
    • 1
  • Christopher G. Ellison
    • 2
  • Harold G. Koenig
    • 3
  1. 1.The Spears Research Institute, HealthCare ChaplaincyNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Duke University Medical Center, GRECC, VA Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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