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Religious Practice and Life Satisfaction: A Domains-of-Life Approach

Abstract

Research on the relationship between religious practice and life satisfaction usually points to the existence of a positive association; with spiritual and social networks in the congregation being considered as important aspects intervening in the relationship. This paper follows a domains-of-life approach to provide insight into the relationship between religious practice and life satisfaction; seven domains of life are considered: Family, Friends, Economic, Free time, Health, Occupation, and Spiritual. By following a domains-of-life approach it is possible to consider how this association takes place through many facets in a person’s life. The methodology allows mapping out the links between religious practice and life satisfaction; in fact, the relationship between religious practice and life satisfaction depends on the importance each domain has in explaining life satisfaction, as well as on the role religious practice plays in explaining domain satisfaction. Empirical research relies on information from a representative survey of the adult non-Hispanic white population in the United States. It is shown that the most important link between religious practice and life satisfaction takes place through the economic domain, followed by the spiritual and family domains of life. The friendship, occupation, and health domains have a minor but statistically significant role.

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Notes

  1. This paper corroborated this well-known finding; the categorical life satisfaction variable was treated as cardinal -running OLS regressions- and as ordinal -running ordered probit regressions- and it was found that the main results do sustain.

  2. The domains-of-life demarcation used in this paper overlaps with commonly used demarcations, such as those mentioned in the OECD’s Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-Being (OECD, 2013: Section E). For example, the Friends domain overlaps with domains such as: our relationships, social connectedness, and personal relationships. The Economic domain overlaps with domains such as: material conditions, income and wealth, personal finance, and economic standard of living. The Free time domain overlaps with domains such as: leisure and recreation, work and life balance. The Health domain overlaps with domains such as: health, health status, health (physical and mental), personal health. The occupation domain overlaps with domains such as: what we do, paid work, jobs and earnings. The family domain overlaps with domains such as marriage and family life, and it was mentioned in the pioneer study of Campbell et al. (1976). The spiritual domain was introduced by Wills (2009).

  3. One reviewer recommended incorporating the trait variable in the study of the relationship between religious practice and satisfaction in domains of life, since both variables are reported by the same person and in the same questionnaire (Podsakoff et al., 2003). This path was explored, and it was observed that the major conclusions of the paper regarding the domains-of-life mapping do not substantially change.

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Acknowledgements

Financial support from the Happiness and Well-Being: Integrating Research across the Disciplines project at Saint Louis University is acknowledged.

Funding

The survey is part of the research project Understanding Happiness in Latin America, which received a grant from the Happiness and Well-Being: Integrating Research across the Disciplines project, based at Saint Louis University and with financial support from the Templeton Foundation and Saint Louis University.

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Correspondence to Mariano Rojas.

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Rojas, M., Watkins-Fassler, K. Religious Practice and Life Satisfaction: A Domains-of-Life Approach. J Happiness Stud 23, 2349–2369 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-022-00510-9

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Keywords

  • Religious practice
  • Life satisfaction
  • Happiness
  • Domains of life
  • United States