Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • 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



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).

Related content

Powered by UNSILO


Berger, P. L. (1967). The sacred canopy: Elements of a sociological theory of religion. Garden City, NY: Anchor.
Berger, P. L. (1969). A rumour of angels: Modern society and the rediscovery of the supernatural. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.
Bergin, A. E., Stinchfield, R. D., Gaskin, T. A., Masters, K. S., & Sullivan, C. E. (1988). Religious life-styles and mental health: An exploratory study. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 35(1), 91–98.
Bond, M. H. (1988). Finding universal dimensions of individual variation in multi-cultural studies of value. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 1009–1015.
Bond, M. H. (2009). Circumnavigating the psychological globe: From yin and yang to starry, starry night. In S. Bekman & A. Aksu-Koc (Eds.), Perspectives on human development, family, and culture (pp. 31–49). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bond, M. H., & Forgas, J. (1984). Linking person perception to behavior intention across cultures: The role of cultural collectivism. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 15, 337–352.
Bond, M. H., Bond, M. H., & Van de Vijver, F. J. R. (2011). Making scientific sense of cultural differences in psychological outcomes: Unpackaging the magnum mysterium. In D. Matsumoto & F. J. R. van de Vijver (Eds.), Cross-cultural research methods in psychology (pp. 75–100). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bryk, A. S., & Raudenbush, S. W. (1992). Hierarchical linear models for social and behavioural research: Applications and data analysis methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Diener, E., & Tay, L. (2010). Needs and subjective well-being around the world. Paper under revision for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Diener, E., Tay, L., & Myers, D. (2010). Religiosity and subjective well-being across the world and the USA. Paper in revision.
Diener, E., & Tov, W. (2012). National accounts of well-being. In K. C. Land, A. C. Michalos, & M. J. Sirgy (Eds.), Handbook of social indicators and quality of life research (pp. 137–157). New York: Springer.
Eccles, J., & Gootman, J. A. (2002). Community programs to promote youth development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Eccles, J., Templeton, J., Barber, B., & Stone, M. (2003). Adolescence and emerging adulthood: The critical passage ways to adulthood. In M. H. Bornstein, L. Davidson, C. L. M. Keyes, & K. A. Moore (Eds.), Well-being: Positive development across the life course (pp. 383–406). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Emmons, R. A. (1999). Religion in the psychology of personality: An introduction. Journal of Personality, 67, 873–888.
Erikson, E. (1964). Childhood and society. New York: Norton.
Fu, P. P., Kennedy, J., Tata, J., Yukl, G., Bond, M. H., Peng, T. K.Cheosakul, A. (2004). The impact of societal cultural values and individual social beliefs on the perceived effectiveness of managerial influence strategies: A meso approach. Journal of International Business Studies, 35, 284–305.
Hofmann, D. A. (1997). An overview of the logic and rationale of hierarchical linear models. Journal of Management, 23 (6), 723–744.
Hogg, M. A., Adelman, J. R., & Blagg, R. D. (2010). Religion in the face of uncertainty: An uncertainty-identity theory account of religiousness. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 72–83.
Inglehart, R., & Klingemann, H. D. (2000). Genes, culture, democracy, and happiness. In E. Diener & E. M. Suh (Eds.), Culture and subjective well-being (pp. 165–183). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Kam, C. C. S., & Bond, M. H. (2008). The role of emotions and behavioral responses in mediating the impact of face loss on relationship deterioration: Are Chinese more face-sensitive than Americans?Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 11, 175–184.
Kleiner, K. (2010). Is life getting better? Moving beyond economic measures of well-being. U of T Magazine, Winter, 29–32.
Kwan, V. S. Y., Bond, M. H., & Singelis, T. M. (1997). Pancultural explanations for life satisfaction: Adding relationship harmony to self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1038–1051.
Lai, J. H. W., Bond, M. H., & Hui, N. H. H. (2007). The role of social axioms in predicting life satisfaction: A longitudinal study in Hong Kong. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 517–535.
Leung, K., & Bond, M. H. (1989). On the empirical identification of dimensions for cross-cultural comparisons. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 20, 133–152.
Leung, K., & Bond, M. H. (2004). Social axioms: A model for social beliefs in multicultural perspective. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 36, 119–197. San Diego, CA: Elsevier Academic Press.
Leung, K., & Bond, M. H. (2007). Psycho-logic and eco-logic: Insights from social axiom dimensions. In F. van de Vijver, D. van Hemert, & Y. P. Poortinga (Eds.), Individuals and cultures in multilevel analysis (pp. 199–221). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Levine, R. V., & Campbell, D. T. (1972). Ethnocentrism: Theories of conflict, ethnic attitudes and group behavior. New York: Wiley.
Li, L. M. W., & Bond, M. H. (2010). Does individual secularism promote life satisfaction? The moderating role of societal development. Social Indicators Research, 99, 443–453.
Lykken, D., & Tellegen, A. (1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological Science, 7, 186–189.
Matsumoto, D., Yoo, S. H., Nakagawa, S., Alexandre, J., Altarriba, J., Anguas-Wong, A. M., & Zengeya, A. (2008). Culture, emotion regulation, and adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 925–937.
Morrison, M., Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2010). Subjective well-being and national satisfaction: Findings from a worldwide survey. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (2009). Global Restrictions on Religion. Retrieved August 24, 2010 from
Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Sagiv, L., & Schwartz, S. H. (2000). Value priorities and subjective well-being: Direct relations and congruity effects. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30, 177–198.
Saucier, G., & Skrzypińska, K. (2006). Spiritual but not religious? Evidence for two independent dispositions. Journal of Personality, 74, 1257–1292.
Schwartz, S. H. (1994). Beyond individualism and collectivism: New cultural dimensions of values. In U. Kim, H. C. Triandis, Ç. Kağıtçıbaşı, S. C. Choi, & G. Yoon (Eds.), Individualism and collectivism: Theory, method and applications (pp. 85–119). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Shek, D. T. L. (1993). Meaning in life and psychological well-being in Chinese college students. The International Forum for Logotherapy, 16, 35–42.
Shek, D. T. L. (1999). Parenting characteristics and adolescent psychological well-being: A longitudinal study in a Chinese context. Genetic, Social and General Psychology Monographs, 125, 27–44.
Shek, D. T. L. (2010). The spirituality of the Chinese people: A critical review. In M. H. Bond (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of Chinese psychology (pp. 343–366). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
UNDP (2009). Human Development Report. Retrieved August 24, 2010 from
Veenhoven, R. (2005). If life getting better? How long and happily do people live in modern society?European Psychologist, 10, 330–343.