Religion and well-being: The mediating role of positive emotions.

Van Cappellen, P., Toth-Gauthier, M. Saroglou, V., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2016). Journal of Happiness Studies, 17, 485-505.

Research has consistently shown that endorsing a religion or spirituality is to some extent related to one’s well-being. Common studied explanations tap into the social and cognitive aspects of religion and spirituality. The present research aims at understanding how religiosity and spirituality exert their impact on well-being and investigates the role of a surprisingly neglected mechanism: positive emotions. Two cross-sectional studies using a quantitative approach are presented. In two different contexts (churchgoers in a European country and US university employees interested in meditation), results showed that the relation between religion (Study 1), spirituality (Study 2) and well-being is mediated by positive emotions. Distinguishing between more and less relevant positive emotions in a religious/spiritual context, it was found that the effect was mediated by self-transcendent positive emotions (awe, gratitude, love, and peace) but not by other positive emotions (amusement and pride).