Journal Article

Religion and the Sense of Control among U.S. Adults

Christopher G. Ellison and Amy M. Burdette

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 73, issue 1, pages 1-22
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srr035
Religion and the Sense of Control among U.S. Adults

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Despite at least a century of theoretical debate, the relationship between religion and the sense of control has rarely been investigated empirically. This study develops a series of theoretical arguments linking multiple dimensions of religious involvement with the sense of control. Relevant hypotheses are then tested using data from the 1996 NORC General Social Survey. On the one hand, several aspects of religious involvement (attendance at services, belief in an afterlife, conservative Protestant affiliation) are positively associated with the sense of control. In addition, afterlife belief and frequency of prayer moderate the links between health problems and the sense of control. However, consistent with the claims of prominent critics, certain religious beliefs (e.g., human sin, biblical literalism) are inversely related to the sense of control.

Keywords: mental health; prayer; beliefs; health and illness; sense of control

Journal Article.  8452 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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