Spiritual Struggles among Atheists: Links to Psychological Distress and Well-Being

Religious and spiritual struggles (R/S struggles)—tension or conflicts regarding religious or spiritual matters—have been robustly linked to greater psychological distress and lower well-being. Most research in this area has relied on samples consisting predominantly of participants who believe in g...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Religions
Authors: Sedlar, Aaron E.; Bradley, David F.; Exline, Julie J.; Grubbs, Joshua B.; Pargament, Kenneth I.; Stauner, Nick
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2018]
In:Religions
Year: 2018, Volume: 9, Issue: 8, Pages: 1-21
Further subjects:B Spirituality
B Atheism
B spiritual struggles
B Religion
B Depression
B Anxiety
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
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Summary:Religious and spiritual struggles (R/S struggles)—tension or conflicts regarding religious or spiritual matters—have been robustly linked to greater psychological distress and lower well-being. Most research in this area has relied on samples consisting predominantly of participants who believe in god(s). Limited research has examined R/S struggles among atheists, generally conflating them with agnostics and other nontheists. This study investigated the prevalence of R/S struggles among atheists and compared atheists to theists in two samples (3978 undergraduates, 1048 Internet workers). Results of a multilevel model showed that atheists experience less demonic, doubt, divine, moral, and overall R/S struggles than theists, but similar levels of interpersonal and ultimate meaning struggles. Correlation and regression analyses among atheists demonstrated links between moral, ultimate meaning, and overall R/S struggles and greater distress (depression and anxiety symptoms) as well as lower well-being (life satisfaction and meaning in life). Even after controlling neuroticism, ultimate meaning struggles continued to predict lower well-being and higher distress across samples; moral struggles also predicted distress independently. This study demonstrates the relevance of R/S struggles to atheists and reinforces the applicability of previous results to atheist samples, but also highlights substantial differences between atheists and theists in certain R/S struggles.
ISSN:2077-1444
Contains:Enthalten in: Religions
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.3390/rel9080242