Having religious thoughts gives people more self-control when they’re doing unrelated tasks later on, according to a recent study.
“After unscrambling sentences containing religiously oriented words, participants in our studies exercised significantly more self-control,” said psychology graduate student and head researcher, Kevin Rounding, in a statement.
Study subjects were given a sentence that had five words to unscramble. Some of the sentences contained religious themes, while others didn’t.
After the sentences were unscrambled, the participants were asked to complete various tasks that required self-control, delaying gratification, exerting patience, enduring discomfort, and refraining from impulsive responses.
Results of the study showed that those participants that unscrambled the religious sentences exerted more self- control.
“Our most interesting finding was that religious concepts were able to refuel self-control after it had been depleted by another unrelated task,” explained Rounding. “In other words, even when we would predict people to be unable to exert self-control, after completing the religiously themed task they defied logic and were able to muster self-control.”
“Until now”, Rounding continued, “I believed the religion was a matter of faith; people had little practical use for religion.” “This research actually suggests that religion can serve a very useful function in society. People can turn to religion not just for transcendence and fears regarding death and after-life but also for practical purposes,”