How does a society’s religious context affect the relationships between personal religiosity and well-being? To explore this question, we used two measures of personal religiosity, the absolute importance of religion, and the importance of religion relative to the importance of six life domains, viz., family, friends, work, politics, leisure, and religion. To test the generalizability of relationships between these two measures of personal religiosity and well-being, we tested them across representative samples of 66,992 persons from 47 societies varying in their emphasis on socializing children for religious faith. Pan-societally, personal religiosity predicted many of the five well-being measures including satisfaction with life, happiness, subjective health, trust of strangers, and trust of known others, but in opposite directions depending on whether the absolute or the relative importance of personal religiosity was used. Controlling for wealth, a societal emphasis on socializing children for religious faith moderated the links of personal religiosity with happiness, trust of strangers, and trust of known others, but most evidence revealed that a societal emphasis on religious faith attenuated the strength of these linkages. We argue that measuring an individual’s religiosity in the context of their daily living yields a more realistic view of religion’s role in personal life and social living and suggest that there are both personal and social costs for investing strongly in religion relative to other domains of daily life. Societal religious context must also be assessed to provide a more nuanced understanding of personal religiosity and its associated correlates.
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- personal religiosity
- societal priorities for socializing children
- subjective well-being