Do People Who Believe in God Report More Meaning in Their Lives? The Existential Effects of Belief

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Stephen Cranney, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania, 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6298 USA. E-mail: scranney@sas.upenn.edu

Abstract

I conduct the first large-N study explicitly exploring the association between belief in God and sense of purpose in life. This relationship, while often discussed informally, has received little empirical attention. Here, I use the General Social Survey to investigate how form of and confidence in belief in God is related to sense of purpose in life, as measured by a Likert item level of agreement with the statement “In my opinion, life does not serve any purpose.” Using logistic regression analysis, I find that those who indicate that they are confident in God's existence report a higher sense of purpose compared to nonbelievers, believers in a higher power, and those who believe but occasionally doubt.

Ancillary