New study: prayer improves self-control and emotional stability

Mysterious WGB posted this article from the UK Daily Mail.


Praying helps people stay in control of their emotions and behaviour, according to a new study.

People turn to prayer ‘as a coping response to the high demands in life’ and are rewarded with increased strength and ability to resist temptation, researchers said.

Previous findings have shown that when people try hard to control their emotions and thoughts, the risk of aggressive outbursts and binge drinking or eating rises.

But the latest study, by German psychologists at Saarland University and the University of Mannheim, found that praying helps people maintain self-control.

‘A brief period of personal prayer buffered the self-control depletion effect’, wrote the team, whose findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology online.

‘These results are consistent with and contribute to a growing body of work attesting to the beneficial effects of praying on self-control.’

Praying has already been linked in the past to reduced levels of infidelity and alcohol consumption.

Also, I feel that I should mention this interesting study, if we are going to have a Twilight Zone post today. (H/T STR)



We examined whether atheists exhibit evidence of emotional arousal when they dare God to cause harm to themselves and their intimates. In Study 1, the participants (16 atheists, 13 religious individuals) read aloud 36 statements of three different types: God, offensive, and neutral. In Study 2 (N = 19 atheists), ten new stimulus statements were included in which atheists wished for negative events to occur. The atheists did not think the God statements were as unpleasant as the religious participants did in their verbal reports. However, the skin conductance level showed that asking God to do awful things was equally stressful to atheists as it was to religious people and that atheists were more affected by God statements than by wish or offensive statements. The results imply that atheists’ attitudes towards God are ambivalent in that their explicit beliefs conflict with their affective response.

Now, I am blogging about this because it’s interesting, but I would classify this as being in the camp of near-death experiences and the Shroud of Turin. It’s interesting, but it’s not something that I would use to prove anything in a debate. Ever since I read this article from Christianity Today a while back, I’ve been sort of cautious about using prayer studies to argue for anything. Take this prayer study with a grain of salt.

2 thoughts on “New study: prayer improves self-control and emotional stability”

  1. I’m not sure I’d place the Shroud of Turin in the grey murky area of questionable scientific investigation. The evidence for it being an incredible artifact is beyond any reasonable dispute.


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