B4025 - Associations between religion and life events - 11/04/2022

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Jimmy Morgan | Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Dr Dan Major-Smith, Jean Golding, Dr Jonathan Jong (TBC)
Title of project: 
Associations between religion and life events
Proposal summary: 

Religion can often be recognized as a source of reassurance for those undergoing major or traumatic events in their lives, providing the understanding that these events have their place within the order of the larger universe (Berger, 2011). Hence the Marxist dictum of religion being the “opium of the people.” However, there is relatively little research done on the inversion of this dynamic, specific types of trauma can also have an impact an individual’s strength of faith (Leo et al., 2021). This is particularly prevalent with death related trauma, often witnessing death of a loved one or colleague could influence individuals to either further embrace their faith or weaken it (Fontana and Rosenheck, 2004; Morris Trainor et al., 2019). This is consistent with the shattered assumptions model that posits that those that have undergone trauma often change their world view to ‘accommodate’ their negative life events (Janoff-Bulman, 2002).

The relationship between traumatic life events and religion has been studied in detail by the scientific community, however, the nature and direction of the relationship is still a contentious topic. A review by Chen and Koenig in 2006 found that of the 11 papers in the review, one found no association, four found a positive association, three found mixed associations, and three found an inverse association (Chen and Koenig, 2006).

In these studies, we aim to investigate the relationship between RSBB and traumatic life events in both directions. To find how participants’ religious beliefs impact how they deal with trauma but also if different life events are associated with a change in one’s religiosity.

Berger, P.L. (2011) The sacred canopy: elements of a sociological theory of religion. Available at: http://www.myilibrary.com?id=591409 (Accessed: 9 March 2022).

Chen, Y.Y. and Koenig, H.G. (2006) ‘Traumatic Stress and Religion: Is there a Relationship? A Review of Empirical Findings’, Journal of Religion and Health, 45(3), pp. 371–381. doi:10.1007/s10943-006-9040-y.

Fontana, A. and Rosenheck, R. (2004) ‘Trauma, Change in Strength of Religious Faith, and Mental Health Service Use Among Veterans Treated for PTSD’, Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 192(9), pp. 579–584. doi:10.1097/01.nmd.0000138224.17375.55.

Janoff-Bulman, R. (2002) Shattered Assumptions. Available at: https://www.vlebooks.com/vleweb/product/openreader?id=none&isbn=97814516... (Accessed: 17 March 2022).

Leo, D. et al. (2021) ‘The Effect of Trauma on Religious Beliefs: A Structured Literature Review and Meta-Analysis’, Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 22(1), pp. 161–175. doi:10.1177/1524838019834076.

Morris Trainor, Z. et al. (2019) ‘Death salience moderates the effect of trauma on religiosity.’, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11(6), pp. 639–646. doi:10.1037/tra0000430.

Impact of research: 
To understand in greater detail how religion influences how participants deal with traumatic events and also whether these traumatic events influence participants’ religiosity.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 7 April, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 11 April, 2022
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Injury (including accidents)