Examining the relation of religion and spirituality to subjective well-being across national cultures

Vivian Miu-Chi LUN, Michael Harris BOND

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


Religion and spirituality have often been associated with the higher subjective well-being of individuals, but departures from this relationship have also been noted in previous research. We identified two important issues that may affect this relationship: the various measurements of religion, spirituality, and subjective well-being used, and the national cultural contexts in which the relationship is examined. Using the World Values Survey (World Values Survey Association, 2009, World Values Survey: 1981–2008. Official Aggregate, Version 20090901, ASEP/JDS, Madrid, Spain, http://www.wvsevsdb.com/wvs/WVSData.jsp), we found that both life satisfaction and happiness were positively associated with many measures of religion and spirituality, except for that of spiritual practice in different national contexts. In national cultures in which socialization for religious faith is more common, spiritual practice was positively related to subjective well-being, whereas in cultures where religious socialization is less prevalent, the relationship between spiritual practice and subjective well-being was reversed. In nations where social hostility toward religious groups is more intense, the positive association between belief in the authority of religious leaders and subjective well-being was stronger than in nations where such hostility was weaker. Different measures of religion and spirituality thus have varying relationships with measures of subjective well-being in different national contexts. Future research must accommodate this variability in conceptualizing the interface between cultural contexts and the psychology of religion and spirituality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-315
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number4
Early online date15 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Examining the relation of religion and spirituality to subjective well-being across national cultures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this