Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 651–662 | Cite as

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

  • Kevin J. FlannellyEmail author
  • Christopher G. Ellison
  • Kathleen Galek
  • Nava R. Silton
Original Paper


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.


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



The conduct of this research and the preparation of this manuscript for publication were made possible through the generous support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to HealthCare Chaplaincy, NY, NY: ID# 21296, “Spiritual Beliefs as Predictors of Mental Health: A Test of ETAS Theory” (Kevin J. Flannelly, Ph.D., and Kathleen Galek, Ph.D., Co-PI’s). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin J. Flannelly
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher G. Ellison
    • 2
  • Kathleen Galek
    • 1
  • Nava R. Silton
    • 3
  1. 1.The Spears Research InstituteHealthCare ChaplaincyNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyThe University of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyMarymount Manhattan CollegeNew YorkUSA

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