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  • Cited by 7
  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: September 2012

5 - Religion and Life Satisfaction of Young Persons around the World

from Part Two - Universal and Culture-specific Functions of Adolescent Values and Religion

Summary

Abstract

Current satisfaction with life may be taken as a positive achievement for youth, and considered a prophylactic against antisocial and self-destructive behavior. The roles of a youth’s values and religious engagement in the achievement of satisfaction with life were explored in this study, using the most recent data from the World Values Survey (WVS). Multinational in provenance, the WVS affords the opportunity for researchers to explore the impact of national context on the strength of the linkages from personality factors (such as values) and social factors (such as religious engagement) to life satisfaction, thereby providing assurance of the universality or cultural groundedness of the psychological phenomenon in question.

In this study, we examined the moderating roles of three societal factors: human development, government restriction on religion, and social hostility toward religion. We found that, at the national level, the reported life satisfaction of youth was positively related to the level of development of a society; at the individual level, it was negatively linked to their level of secularism in value, but positively to their level of social-religious engagement. The negative role of secularism did not vary across nations, but the positive effect of social-religious engagement on satisfaction with life was found to vary as a function of the level of religious restriction in a society. Specifically, the effect of social-religious engagement on life satisfaction among youth was enhanced under the societal conditions of lower government restriction and higher social hostility toward religion.

Together, these findings suggested that apart from general socioeconomic development of a society, religious values and practices are also important predictors of life satisfaction among youth; however, the impact of social-religious practices appears to be susceptible to the influence of restriction on religion imposed by a society on its members. We interpret these outcomes in terms of youth’s apparently universal search for meaning and the social support for religious belief provided by shared worship and societal structures that enhance or restrain the plausibility of religious belief in a secular world (Berger, 1969).

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