An empirical investigation of the relationship between religious beliefs, irrational beliefs, and negative emotions
Bianca MACAVEI & Mircea MICLEA
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
The present studies have experimentally investigated the relationship between religious beliefs and negative emotions. We found that the mere association of a chain of negative events with the presence of a merciful and omnipotent spiritual being induced less worry and sadness and increased hope in the future than when the same events were presented alone. The former religious attitudes may intensify the impact of the actual religious beliefs in the generation of positive emotions. We also found that the meaning-making process induced by the religious beliefs is an implicit, tacit rather than an explicit inferential process. Also, subjects who (1) unconditionally accept themselves, (2) hold less self-downing beliefs (negative global self-evaluation) and (3) have more religious beliefs tend to experience lower levels of emotional distress under normal, non-traumatic circumstances. Also, participants who believe in the love and forgiveness from God tend to endorse less self-downing beliefs (one of the proximal causes of depression). Limits and implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Keywords: religious beliefs and values, negative emotions, irrational beliefs