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Does “Faith” in Science Correlate with Indicators of Well-Being?

Evidence for Differential Effects by Gender

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 Visiting Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology Department, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
  • | 2 Assistant Professor, Sociology Department, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
  • | 3 Professor, Psychology Department, University of California, Riverside, CA, USA
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Abstract

Religion has long been theorized to serve important functions for societies and individuals; specifically, as a source of knowledge about what is real and as a source of norms prescribing how individuals should behave. However, science and scientists appear to be playing an increasingly large role in public discourse. A majority of adults in the U.S. report interest in science and an increasing number are obtaining degrees in the sciences – more so among males than females. As a result, we examined (1) whether and how participants’ demographic background, religious background, and two indicators of well-being relate to a “belief in science” index, and (2) whether those relations differed among males and females. 560 young adults from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds participated. The findings presented here suggest that belief in science and religiosity are strongly inversely correlated, and if belief in science does confer emotion-related benefits, it may operate differently across demographic categories. Specifically, we find that belief in science is related to emotion dysregulation and death anxiety among males, but not females, even though females scored lower on these indicators of well-being overall.

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