Friday, July 8

The Research on Religiosity and Mental Health

You asked for it, right? Research demonstrating that religious affiliation and spirituality are linked to better outcomes than irreligiosity? 

So saddle up, cowherds. This range is wide, and the research is recent. (If the topic interests you, you may want to bookmark this page, because I'll be adding more as it comes to my attention):

Abreu, M. E., Laureano, R. S., Silva, R. V., & Dionísio, P. (2015). Volunteerism, compassion and religiosity as drivers of donations practices. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 20(3), 256-276. doi:10.1002/nvsm.1526

“This study looks into the role of religiosity as a predictor of donations practices. Also volunteerism and compassion, two acts of pro‐social behaviour are analysed as predictors of donations practices. Using data collected from a survey of 612 charity donors in Portugal, the results show unequivocally that religiosity does influence donations practices, and so [is] a predictor of donations practices. Moreover, pro‐social behaviour is a predictor of donations practices when in the case of volunteerism, but not in the form of compassion.”

Berardi, V., Bellettiere, J., Nativ, O., Ladislav, S., Hovell, M. F., & Baron-Epel, O. (2016). Fatalism, diabetes management outcomes, and the role of religiosity. Journal Of Religion and Health, 55(2), 602-617. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0067-9

This study aimed to determine whether fatalistic beliefs were associated with elevated levels of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and to establish the role of religiosity in this relationship. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on a sample of 183 Jewish adults with diabetes visiting a large medical center in northern Israel. Self-administered questionnaires assessed level of religiosity, fatalistic beliefs, diabetes management behaviors, and demographic/personal characteristics; laboratory tests were used to measure HbA1c. Multivariate regression indicated that fatalism was significantly associated with HbA1c (β = 0.51, p = 0.01). The association was no longer statistically significant after including self-reported religiosity in the model (β = 0.31, p = 0.13). This phenomenon is likely due to a confounding relationship between the religious/spiritual coping component of the fatalism index and self-reported religiosity (r = 0.69). The results indicate that addressing fatalistic attitudes may be a viable strategy for improving diabetes management, but call for a better understanding of the interplay between religiosity and fatalism in this context.

Bravo, A. J., Pearson, M. R., & Stevens, L. E. (2016). Making religiosity person-centered: A latent profile analysis of religiosity and psychological health outcomes. Personality and Individual Differences, 88160-169. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.08.049

“…we found that a four-class solution fits optimally in two samples of Christian college students, including questioning (high quest, low intrinsic/extrinsic), intrinsically motivated (high intrinsic), high religiosity (high on all religious orientations), and low religiosity (low on all religious orientations) groups. Across both studies, we found, that the high religiosity, low religiosity and questioning groups reported significantly lower levels of psychological well-being compared to the “Intrinsically Motivated” group. These results corroborate studies suggesting that intrinsic religiosity is a protective factor associated with good psychological well-being among religious students and that personal religious struggles (i.e., quest religiosity) are associated with poorer psychological well-being. Our results point to the utility of person-centered analyses to examine religiosity in unique ways.”

Bowman, N., & Toms Smedley, C. (2013). The forgotten minority: examining religious affiliation and university satisfaction. Higher Education, 65(6), 745-760. doi:10.1007/s10734-012-9574-8

“Even when controlling for various individual and institutional characteristics, students who do not identify with any religious group have the lowest university satisfaction, whereas Protestant students have the highest [academic] satisfaction.”

Burshtein, S., Dohrenwend, B. P., Levav, I., Werbeloff, N., Davidson, M., & Weiser, M. (2016). Religiosity as a protective factor against suicidal behaviour. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 133(6), 481-488. doi:10.1111/acps.12555

“Data suggest that adherence to religious beliefs is associated with lower rates of suicide. A number of mediating factors have been hypothesized to explain this association, including enhanced social support, less substance abuse, and lower rates of psychopathology. Method: We utilized data from a two-phase population-based, epidemiological study of mental disorders among young Jewish Israel born in a 10-year birth-cohort conducted in the 1980s. …Results: Rates of suicidal ideation were similar among secular, partially observant, and religious subjects (9.4%, 6.7%, and 6.2%, respectively…). Rates of suicide attempts were significantly lower among religious subjects (2.4%, 2.5%, and 0.4% for secular, partially observant, and religious, respectively…). Of the 4914 subjects, eight died by suicide: Seven of them were secular and one was partially observant (X² = 2.52, P = 0.09). There were no differences in social functioning or rates of psychopathology among the study groups. Conclusion: Religiosity has a protective effect against suicide attempts, which is independent of social functioning, psychopathology, and substance use.”

Buzdar, M. A., Ali, A., & Tariq, R. H. (2015). Religious orientations as a predictor of rational thinking among secondary school students. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 161-8. doi:10.1016/j.tsc.2014.11.005

“In general, both an intrinsic orientation to religion and an external personal orientation are positively associated with rational thinking, while an external social orientation is negatively associated.

Chiswick, B. R., & Mirtcheva, D. M. (2013). Religion and child health: Religious affiliation, importance, and attendance and health status among American youth. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 34(1), 120-140. doi:10.1007/s10834-012-9312-5

“Probit analysis revealed a generally positive and statistically significant association between religion and health, especially for the psychological health of children ages 12–15. Mitigating the issue of selection bias on observable characteristics, the Propensity Score Matching analysis generated similar positive associations between religion and child health. These findings are consistent with the corresponding literature on adults.”

Cruz, J. P., Colet, P. C., Qubeilat, H., Al-Otaibi, J., Coronel, E. I., & Suminta, R. C. (2016). Religiosity and health-related quality of life: A cross-sectional study on Filipino Christian hemodialysis patients. Journal Of Religion And Health, 55(3), 895-908. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0103-9

“measure the religiosity and health-related quality of life of Filipino Christian HD patients. A cross-sectional study of 100 HD patients was conducted…Intrinsic religiosity showed a strong, positive correlation with quality of Life (HRQoL). It is essential to attend to and nourish their religious needs. Holistic approach in providing care to HD patients, with emphasis on spiritual care, is encouraged to improve their total health.

Drabble, L., Trocki, K. F., & Klinger, J. L. (2016). Religiosity as a protective factor for hazardous drinking and drug use among sexual minority and heterosexual women: Findings from the National Alcohol Survey. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 161,127-134. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.01.022

Religiosity was significantly greater among exclusively heterosexual women compared to all sexual minority groups (lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual women who report same sex partners)…High religiosity was associated with lifetime alcohol abstention and was found to be protective against hazardous drinking and drug use among both sexual minority and heterosexual women. Reporting religious norms unfavorable to drinking was protective against hazardous drinking among exclusively heterosexual women but not sexual minority women.”

Farmer, A. Y., & Brown, K. M. (2013). Parental religious service attendance and adolescent substance use. Journal of Religion & Spirituality In Social Work: Social Thought, 32(1), 84-101. doi:10.1080/15426432.2013.749135

“Results suggest that attending religious services more than once a week by both parents is associated with adolescents being less likely to use substances. Adolescents residing in households where the father never attended religious services and the mother attended religious services once a month and adolescents residing in households where the father never attended religious services and the mother attended more than once a week were almost 4 times more likely to use substances than adolescents residing in households where both parents attended religious services more than once a week. There was no evidence to support that having one parent attending religious services more than the other compensated for the effects of the low frequency attending parent. Implications for faith-based policy initiatives and practice are discussed. Future research should determine why having a more frequent attending parent did not compensate for the effects of having a low frequent attending parent on adolescent substance use.”

Ghandour, L. A., & El Sayed, D. S. (2013). Gambling behaviors among university youth: Does one's religious affiliation and level of religiosity play a role?. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27(1), 279-286. doi:10.1037/a0030172

“Students in Lebanon who never/rarely practiced their faith were 3.6 times as likely to report lifetime gambling, 3.7 times as likely to report Social Non-Problem Gambling (vs. Non-Gambling), and 7 times as likely to screen for Problem Gambling (vs. NG). Decreased religious importance was associated with greater odds of lifetime gambling, SNPG and PG (vs. NG). Stronger associations were observed among Muslims. Religion and religiosity seem to play a protective role [against gambling], particularly among Muslims whose faith strictly prohibits gambling.”

Haber, J. R. (2009). Mediation of family alcoholism risk by religious affiliation types. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Vol 70(6), Nov, 2009. pp. 877-889.

“Results: (1) Offspring reared with a differentiating religious affiliation [ie, different from the cultural norm] during childhood exhibited significantly fewer alcohol dependence (AD) symptoms as young adults; (2) offspring with current differentiating religious affiliation also exhibited fewer AD symptoms; this main effect was not weakened by adding other measures of religiousness to the model; (3) differentiating religious affiliation was correlated with both family alcoholism risk and offspring outcome, and removed the association between family alcoholism risk and offspring outcome, thus indicating that differentiating religious affiliation was at least a partial mediator of the association between family AD history risk and offspring AD outcome [ie, religious affiliation mediated [alcohol dependence] even in families with AD history]. Conclusions: Current results indicate that religious differentiation is an inverse mediator of alcoholism risk for offspring with or without parental AD history and regardless of the influence of other religion variables. Results replicated our previous report on religious upbringing between ages 6 and 13 years and indicated an even stronger effect when current differentiating affiliation was examined.”

Hall, D. L., Cohen, A. B., Meyer, K. K., Varley, A. H., & Brewer, G. A. (2015). Costly signaling increases trust, even across religious affiliations. Psychological Science, 26(9), 1368-1376. doi:10.1177/0956797615576473

“We examined how Christian participants perceived the trustworthiness of Muslim and Christian individuals who did or did not engage in religious costly signaling. Religious costly signaling, operationalized as giving to religious charities or adhering to religious dietary restrictions, increased self-reported trust, regardless of target religious affiliation. Furthermore, when estimating the likelihood that trustworthy versus untrustworthy targets engaged in costly signaling, participants made systematic judgments that showed that costly signaling is associated with trust for both Muslim and Christian targets. These results are novel in their suggestion that costly signals of religious commitment can increase trust both within and, crucially, across religious-group lines.”

Inman, M., Iceberg, E., & McKeel, L. (2014). Do religious affirmations, religious commitments, or general commitments mitigate the negative effects of exposure to thin ideals?. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 53(1), 38-55. doi:10.1111/jssr.12089

“Results showed that religious commitment buffered against exposure to ultrathin models. Women who were strongly religiously committed and who read religious statements that affirmed the body showed higher body esteem. Correlation results showed that general commitment was positively related to body esteem, body satisfaction, and healthy dieting. Religious commitment was positively related to body esteem and body satisfaction.”

Jim, H. L., Pustejovsky, J. E., Park, C. L., Danhauer, S. C., Sherman, A. C., Fitchett, G., & ... Salsman, J. M. (2015). Religion, spirituality, and physical health in cancer patients: A meta-analysis. Cancer (0008543X), 121(21), 3760. doi:10.1002/cncr.29353

Although religion/spirituality (R/S) is important in its own right for many cancer patients, a large body of research has examined whether R/S is also associated with better physical health outcomes....In an effort to synthesize previous findings, a meta-analysis of the relation between R/S and patient-reported physical health in cancer patients was performed. A search...yielded 2073 abstracts, which were independently evaluated by pairs of raters...Affective [and Cognitive] R/S w[ere] associated with physical well-being, functional well-being, and physical symptoms....In conclusion, the results of the current meta-analysis suggest that greater Religiosity/Spirituality is associated with better patient-reported physical health. These results underscore the importance of attending to patients' religious and spiritual needs as part of comprehensive cancer care.

Jung, J. H. (2014). 'Religious attendance, stress, and happiness in South Korea: Do gender and religious affiliation matter': Erratum. Social Indicators Research, 118(3), 1333. doi:10.1007/s11205-013-0479-4

“Ordinal least square regression analyses reveal that although the effect size is relatively small, religious attendance is associated with a higher level of happiness in South Korea. However, this positive effect holds only for women and only for Protestants. In addition, an interaction effect between religious attendance and stress is observed for women only; the negative association between stress and happiness is weakened among those women who report more frequent church attendance. In this regard, a high level of church attendance buffers against the deleterious effects of stress on happiness for women.”

Khalaf, D. R., Hebborn, L. F., Dal, S. J., & Naja, W. J. (2015). A critical comprehensive review of religiosity and anxiety disorders in adults. Journal of Religion and Health, 54(4), 1438-1450. doi:10.1007/s10943-014-9981-5

three main outcomes were identified: (1) certain aspects of religiosity and specific religious interventions have mostly had a protective impact on generalized anxiety disorder (40 % of the studies); (2) other domains of religiosity demonstrated no association with post-traumatic stress disorder (30 % of the studies); and (3) mixed results were seen for panic and phobic disorders.

Koenig, H. (2009). Research on religion, spirituality and mental health: A review. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54, 283–291.

“many people find religiosity and spirituality as the most significant resource to develop posttraumatic growth (PTG), followed by family, friends and community´s support”

Koenig, H. G., Pearce, M. J., Nelson, B., & Erkanli, A. (2016). Effects on daily spiritual experiences of religious versus conventional cognitive behavioral therapy for depression. Journal of Religion and Health. doi:10.1007/s10943-016-0270-3

“We compared religiously integrated cognitive behavioral therapy (RCBT) versus conventional CBT (CCBT) on increasing daily spiritual experiences (DSE) in major depressive disorder and chronic medical illness. A total of 132 participants aged 18-85 were randomized to either RCBT (n = 65) or CCBT (n = 67). Participants received ten 50-min sessions (primarily by telephone) over 12 weeks. DSE was assessed using the Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale (DSES). Mixed-effects growth curve models compared the effects of treatment group on trajectory of change in DSE. Baseline DSE and changes in DSE were examined as predictors of change in depressive symptoms. DSE increased significantly in both groups. RCBT tended to be more effective than CCBT with regard to increasing DSE…, especially in those with low religiosity…. Higher baseline DSE predicted a decrease in depressive symptoms…, independent of treatment group, and an increase in Daily Spiritual Experiences (DSE) with treatment correlated with a decrease in depressive symptoms…. Religiously integrated cognitive behavioral therapy (RCBT) tends to be more effective than conventional CBT (CCBT) in increasing DSE, especially in persons with low religiosity. Higher baseline DSE and increases in DSE over time predict a faster resolution of depressive symptoms. Efforts to increase DSE, assessed by a measure such as the DSES, may help with the treatment of depression in the medically ill.”

Krause, N. (2015). Trust in God and psychological distress: exploring variations by religious affiliation. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 18(4), 235-245. doi:10.1080/13674676.2015.1021311

“The findings reveal that, compared to moderate or liberal Christians, trust in God is associated with lower levels of death anxiety as well as fewer symptoms of a depressed affect and lower somatic symptom scores among Conservative Christians.”

Krause, N., & Hayward, R. D. (2013). Emotional expressiveness during worship services and life satisfaction: assessing the influence of race and religious affiliation. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 16(8), 813-831. doi:10.1080/13674676.2012.721349

“Our study model contains the following core relationships: (1) blacks are more likely than whites to worship in conservative Protestant congregations; (2) members of conservative congregations and blacks will attend church services more often; (3) blacks and conservative Protestants are more likely than either whites or members of other congregations to openly express their emotions during worship services; (4) individuals who express their emotions during church services will be more likely say they worship in a highly cohesive congregation; (5) people who worship in highly cohesive congregations will generalise this sense of connectedness to people outside their place of worship; and (6) those who feel closely connected with all people will experience a greater sense of life satisfaction. Finding from a nationwide survey provide support for each of these relationships.

López, J., Camilli, C., & Noriega, C. (2015). Posttraumatic growth in widowed and non-widowed older adults: Religiosity and sense of coherence. Journal Of Religion And Health, 54(5), 1612-1628. doi:10.1007/s10943-014-9876-5

“The results of the total sample of this study indicate a positive relationship between the social support that the religious or spiritual community offers and psychological growth developed in people who have experienced at least one [major traumatic] life event. The more the religious community support was reported by the participants, the higher the degree of post-traumatic growth [PTG] was revealed. These findings also confirm what other authors have already described, such as Seligman (2008), who considers faith, religious beliefs, optimism, extraversion, hope and self-confidence as personality characteristics that may facilitate psychological growth after experiencing a life major event.”

McIntosh, D. N., Poulin, M. J., Silver, R. C., & Holman, E. A. (2011). The distinct roles of spirituality and religiosity in physical and mental health after collective trauma: a national longitudinal study of responses to the 9/11 attacks. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 34(6), 497-507. doi:10.1007/s10865-011-9331-y

“Religiosity (i.e., participation in religious social structures) predicted higher positive affect (β = .12), fewer cognitive intrusions (β = -.07), and lower odds of new onset mental (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = .88) and musculoskeletal (IRR = .94) ailments. Spirituality (i.e., subjective commitment to spiritual or religious beliefs) predicted higher positive affect (β = .09), lower odds of new onset infectious ailments (IRR = 0.83), more intrusions (β = .10) and a more rapid decline in intrusions over time (β = -.10). Religiosity and spirituality independently predict health after a collective trauma, controlling for pre-event health status; they are not interchangeable indices of religion.”

Morris, G., & McAdie, T. (2009). Are personality, well-being and death anxiety related to religious affiliation?. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 12(2), 115-120.

Religious participants (Christians and Muslims combined) scored significantly higher for general well-being than non-religious participants. Christians scored significantly lower for death anxiety than both non-religious and Muslim groups, and Muslims scored significantly higher than the non-religious group.”

Perry, S. L. (2016). From bad to worse? Pornography consumption, spousal religiosity, gender, and marital quality. Sociological Forum, 31(2), 441-464. doi:10.1111/socf.12252

“Pornography consumption is consistently associated with lower marital quality. Scholars have theorized that embeddedness within a religious community may exacerbate the negative association between pornography use and marital quality because of greater social or psychic costs to porn viewing. As a test and extension of this theory, I examine how being married to a religiously devout spouse potentially moderates the link between respondents' reported pornography consumption and their marital satisfaction….In the main effects, porn consumption is negatively related to marital satisfaction, while spousal religiosity is positively related to marital satisfaction. Interaction effects reveal, however, that spousal religiosity intensifies the negative effect of porn viewing on marital satisfaction. These effects are robust whether marital satisfaction is operationalized as a scale or with individual measures and whether spousal religiosity is measured with respondents' evaluations their spouses' religiosity or spouses' self‐reported religiosity measures. The effects are also similar for both husbands and wives. I argue that for married Americans, having a religiously committed spouse increases the social and psychic costs of porn consumption such that marital satisfaction decreases more drastically as a result.

Rounding, K., Jacobson, J. A., & Hart, K. E. (2016). Religiosity as a moderator of causal uncertainty’s mediational role in the parental–offspring dysphoria relationship. Psychology Of Religion And Spirituality, 8(1), 1-12. doi:10.1037/a0039690

“For offspring reared by depressed parents, religiosity may serve as a buffering mechanism [against parental depression], which refers to shielding or abating deleterious events, or a coping mechanism, which is a resource used to mitigate against aversive consequences of negative events. To date, little research has distinguished between these 2 constructs to determine how religiosity may function as a source of resilience to protect offspring. In the current study, religiosity moderated the mediational effects of causal uncertainty on the parental-offspring dysphoria relationship.

Routledge, C., Roylance, C., & Abeyta, A. A. (2016 Jun 29). Further exploring the link between religion and existential health: The effects of religiosity and trait differences in mentalizing on indicators of meaning in life. Journal of Religion and Health.

“Religiosity contributes to perceptions of meaning. One of the cognitive foundations for religious belief is the capacity to mentalize the thoughts, emotions, and intentions of others (Theory of Mind). We examined how religiosity and trait differences in mentalizing interact to influence meaning. We hypothesized that people who are most cognitively inclined toward religion (high mentalizers) receive the greatest existential benefits (i.e., high and secure meaning) from religiosity. We assessed individual differences in mentalizing and religiosity, and measured indicators of meaning. Results confirmed that the combination of high mentalizing and high religiosity corresponded to the highest levels of existential health.

Stavrova, O. (2015). Religion, self-rated health, and mortality: Whether religiosity delays death depends on the cultural context. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6(8), 911-922. doi:10.1177/1948550615593149

“Existing research, mostly based on the data from the United States, suggests that religiosity contributes to better health and longevity…the health and longevity benefits of religiosity are restricted to highly religious regions

Sullivan, A. R. (2010). Mortality differentials and religion in the United States: Religious affiliation and attendance. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49(4), 740-753. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01543.x

“I test whether mortality differences associated with religious affiliation [in Pennsylvania] can be attributed to differences in socioeconomic status (years of education and household wealth), attendance at religious services, or health behaviors, particularly cigarette and alcohol consumption. A baseline report of attendance at religious services is used to avoid confounding effects of deteriorating health. Socioeconomic status explains some but not all of the mortality difference. While Catholics, evangelical Protestants, and black Protestants [the three groups studied] benefit from favorable attendance patterns, attendance (or lack of) at services explains much of the higher mortality of those with no religious preference. Health behaviors do not mediate the relationship between mortality and religion, except among evangelical Protestants. Not only does religion matter, but studies examining the effect of “religiosity” need to consider differences by religious affiliation.”

Vishkin, A., Bigman, Y. E., Porat, R., Solak, N., Halperin, E., & Tamir, M. (2016). God rest our hearts: Religiosity and cognitive reappraisal. Emotion, 16(2), 252-262. doi:10.1037/emo0000108

“Although religiosity is often accompanied by more intense emotions, we propose that people who are more religious may be better at using 1 of the most effective emotion regulation strategies—namely, cognitive reappraisal. We argue that religion, which is a meaning-making system, is linked to better cognitive reappraisal, which involves changing the meaning of emotional stimuli. Four studies (N = 2,078) supported our hypotheses. In Study 1, religiosity was associated with more frequent use of cognitive reappraisal in 3 distinct religions (i.e., Islam, Christianity, Judaism). In Studies 2A–2B, we replicated these findings using 2 indices of cognitive reappraisal and in a large representative sample. In Studies 3–4, individuals more (vs. less) religious were more effective in using cognitive reappraisal in the laboratory.

Wade, N. G., Meyer, J. E., Goldman, D. B., & Post, B. C. (2008). Predicting forgiveness for an interpersonal offense before and after treatment: The role of religious commitment, religious affiliation, and trait forgivingness. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 27(4), 358-367.

“Results indicated that religious affiliation was related to rumination about the offense prior to treatment and that, for Christians, religious commitment was related to change in revenge following treatment. The disposition to forgive fully mediated the relationship between religious commitment and revenge and religious commitment and rumination, but only for Christians.”

Ysseldyk, R., Haslam, S. A., & Haslam, C. (2013). Abide with me: religious group identification among older adults promotes health and well-being by maintaining multiple group memberships. Aging & Mental Health, 17(7), 869-879. doi:10.1080/13607863.2013.799120
Results: In Study 1, religious identification was associated with fewer depressive symptoms, and membership in multiple groups mediated that relationship. However, no relationships between social or exercise groups and mental health were evident. Study 2 replicated these patterns, but additionally, maintaining multiple group memberships over time partially mediated the relationship between religious group membership and physical health. Conclusion: Together these findings suggest that religious social networks are an especially valuable source of social capital among older adults, supporting well-being directly and by promoting additional group memberships (including those that are non-religious).”

Yu, M., & Stiffman, A. R. (2010). Positive family relationships and religious affiliation as mediators between negative environment and illicit drug symptoms in American Indian adolescents. Addictive Behaviors, 35(7), 694-699. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.03.005

Religious affiliation mediated the negative effect of deviant peers on positive family relationships. Intervention and prevention efforts may benefit from promoting positive family relationships and religious affiliation to reduce the impact of complex familial and social problems on illicit drug symptoms.”

Yuen, C. M. (2013). Ethnicity, level of study, gender, religious affiliation and life satisfaction of adolescents from diverse cultures in Hong Kong. Journal of Youth Studies, 16(6), 776-791. doi:10.1080/13676261.2012.756973

“Students from non-Chinese cultures and associated with religion are reported to have greater life satisfaction than their non-religious Chinese counterparts. There is a strong relationship between religiosity and self-appraised life satisfaction among the student groups.

Are we having (dys)fun(ction) yet?

How well does your family function? Are you all quite fond of one another, or are one or more family members contemplating airing the family problems on an upcoming episode of Dr. Phil?
Bet you'd quit if a bear suddenly showed up!

Here's a quick one-question test to determine whether your family is functional, or dysfunctional. Ready? Here it goes:

Where's the enemy?

Are members of your family causing problems? Is the enemy your narcissistic brother? Your thieving son? Your abusive mother? Yes? Congratulations. If the problem is inside your family, your family is dysfunctional.

If, on the other hand, the problem is outside your family -- cancer, poverty, the homeowner's association, alcoholism -- and your family is working together to fight The Problem, your family is functional.

Functioning families have problems, just like dysfunctioning families, but functioning families perceive the problem as separate from the individuals. If a daughter is failing school, the family works on fixing the problem -- school work -- and doesn't ally itself against the daughter.

If you're old enough to remember 9/11 (or even, Pearl Harbor), you recall a moment when suddenly, for an entire nation, the enemy wasn't ourselves. The enemy was without -- outside our selves -- and we were a functional community trying to solve a common problem. For several weeks, we pulled together in common cause, and felt like united states.

That sense of common cause isn't sustainable in groups of 300 million, but it's very sustainable in families. Families that reinforce their sense of communal effort, that "circle the wagons" against external problems, that have a sense of mission and purpose, and that, above all, never allow one another to treat a beloved family member as "the problem," turn out to be well functioning systems where most members, most of the time, feel supported and experience joy.

Today's mantra: The person isn't the problem; the problem is the problem.

This small-shift tool is brought to you by Allied Family Therapy.

If your marriage is feeling dysfunctional, schedule a preliminary session to discuss ways we can help you get the FUN back in functionality! Click the blue "Schedule Me" button on the home page to schedule your appointment on line, or call us at 425-429-2230 to schedule in-person counseling, or on-line coaching sessions.