Journal Article

Does Negative Interaction in the Church Increase Psychological Distress? Longitudinal Findings from the Presbyterian Panel Survey*

Christopher G. Ellison, Wei Zhang, Neal Krause and John P. Marcum

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 70, issue 4, pages 409-431
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srp062
Does Negative Interaction in the Church Increase Psychological Distress? Longitudinal Findings from the Presbyterian Panel Survey*

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This study examines the effects of negative interaction in church on psychological distress. After outlining a series of theoretical arguments linking negative interaction with health and well-being, relevant hypotheses are tested using longitudinal data from two surveys of the 1997–1999 Presbyterian Panel, a nationwide panel of members and elders (lay leaders) in congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Findings confirm that negative interaction appears to foster or exacerbate distress over the study period. In addition, specific dimensions of social negativity have distinctive effects; the impact of criticisms on distress surface only in cross-sectional models, while the effects of excessive demands emerge only in the longitudinal models. No subgroup variations in these effects are detected. Implications of these findings are discussed with regard to (a) research on religion and health and (b) congregational life, and a number of promising directions for future research are elaborated.

Keywords: religion; churches; congregations; social support; negative interaction; health

Journal Article.  8525 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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