The Psychology of Religion


Religion is an organized system of beliefs and practices. It is generally centered on the belief that there is a higher power or god who created the universe and oversees human affairs. It is often based on the idea that humans should behave morally and seek to live according to a code of conduct. It may involve rituals, ethics, and social connections. It can also have a positive impact on people’s lives, such as providing comfort in times of grief or stress and encouraging healthy behaviors.

This theory identifies the primitive notion of religion as the service and propitiation of ancestors. It argues that the first religious offerings were probably foods, weapons, and utensils to the spirits of deceased relatives, who were believed to have occupations and needs similar to those of their earthly lives. Later, this mistaken concept of ancestor worship was adapted to the service and propitiation of great powers of nature.

A more modern interpretation of Religion emphasizes the role that beliefs and rituals play in social control, health, and well-being. Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of sociology, argued that religion is not something that exists in and of itself but is rather a function that provides meaning to life, binds society together, promotes social stability, gives an explanation of the universe and of human existence, serves as an agent of self-control, encourages ethical behavior, and improves people’s mental and physical health.

Those who study the psychology of Religion agree that religiosity is associated with many benefits, such as a strong family unit, good education, high income, and a reduction in domestic abuse, violence, drug and alcohol use, and prejudice. However, researchers caution that these effects are not due to Religion itself but rather other factors such as social connection and a desire to follow values.