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Losing My Religion: Exploring the Relationship Between a Decline in Faith and a Positive Affect


  • Neal Krause

    () (University of Michigan)

  • Kenneth I. Pargament

    (Bowling Green State University)


Research indicates the people who have experienced a decline in their faith tend to have a diminished positive affect. However, it is not clear how the effects of decline in faith arise. The purpose of the current study is to examine the effects of four potentially important mediators: religious practices, compassion, providing support to others, and meaning in life. These mediators were woven into a conceptual model that tests the following hypotheses: (1) people who experience a decline in their faith will be less likely to engage in basic religious practices (i.e., attendance at worship services, reading the Bible, and praying); (2) when religious practices are discontinued people will be less likely to adopt core religious virtues that promote sociality (i.e., compassion); (3) losing the impetus for forming close social relationships makes it less likely that people will help individuals who are in need; (4) people who do not help others will find that it is more difficult developing a strong sense of meaning in life; and (5) people who are unable to find a sense of meaning in life will have a diminished positive affect. Findings from a recent nationwide survey (n = 2798) provide support for each of these hypotheses.

Suggested Citation

  • Neal Krause & Kenneth I. Pargament, 2017. "Losing My Religion: Exploring the Relationship Between a Decline in Faith and a Positive Affect," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 12(4), pages 885-901, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ariqol:v:12:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11482-016-9495-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s11482-016-9495-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher Ellison & Jinwoo Lee, 2010. "Spiritual Struggles and Psychological Distress: Is There a Dark Side of Religion?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 98(3), pages 501-517, September.
    2. Andrew Howell & Holli-Anne Passmore & Karen Buro, 2013. "Meaning in Nature: Meaning in Life as a Mediator of the Relationship Between Nature Connectedness and Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(6), pages 1681-1696, December.
    3. İlhan Yalçın & Asude Malkoç, 2015. "The Relationship Between Meaning in Life and Subjective Well-Being: Forgiveness and Hope as Mediators," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 915-929, August.
    4. Neal Krause, 2004. "Stressors Arising in Highly Valued Roles, Meaning in Life, and the Physical Health Status of Older Adults," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 59(5), pages 287-297.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Speed & Thomas J. Coleman III & Joseph Langston, 2018. "What Do You Mean, “What Does It All Mean?†Atheism, Nonreligion, and Life Meaning," SAGE Open, , vol. 8(1), pages 21582440177, January.


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