Pöhls, Katharina ORCID: 0000-0002-9709-9080 (2021). Nonreligiosity and Life Satisfaction: Reexamining a Supposedly Negative Relationship. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Most previous research seems to indicate that nonreligiosity is related to disadvantages, e.g., a lower level of life satisfaction. This dissertation, consisting of a literature review and two empirical studies, calls a general negative link into question. In the literature review, several conceptual and methodological issues of most previous research on this topic were identified. In contrast, no or only small differences in the level of life satisfaction between religious and nonreligious individuals can be found, if empirical studies utilize multidimensional conceptualizations of (non)religiosity, representative samples with a substantial number of nonreligious individuals, a differentiation between (non)religious subgroups, include relevant context factors, and/or test for both linear and nonlinear relationships between the variables. The first empirical study examined the relationship between (non)religious self-identification and life satisfaction in a quantitative intercultural comparison across 24 countries worldwide (N=33,879). The results indicate that only in religious societies, identifying as not religious or atheist is related to lower life satisfaction than high religiosity. When the fit between individual and country characteristics was controlled for, a curvilinear relationship between (non)religiosity and life satisfaction emerged, as only weakly religious individuals were less satisfied with life than highly religious individuals. In the second empirical study, the relationship between an individual’s kind of (non)belief, nihilism, and life satisfaction was researched in a representative German sample (N=3,212) with a quantitative comparative design between four (non)religious groups. Only uncertainty what to believe in was related to nihilism, while atheists were not more likely to indicate nihilistic tendencies than theists, suggesting a curvilinear relationship between (non)religiosity and nihilism. Atheists were slightly less satisfied with life than theists, but an individual’s (non)belief was only weakly related to his or her life satisfaction. Thus, the findings of this dissertation further challenge the idea of a universal benefit of religiosity for an individual’s life satisfaction and provide implications for future research on this topic.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Pöhls, Katharinakatharina.poehls@gmx.netorcid.org/0000-0002-9709-9080UNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-504589
Date: 2021
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Management, Economy and Social Sciences
Divisions: Weitere Institute, Arbeits- und Forschungsgruppen > Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology (ISS)
Subjects: Psychology
Social sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:
nonreligiosity, atheism, religiosity, life satisfaction, belief certainty, social norms, subjective well-being, secularity, ALLBUS, World Values SurveyEnglish
Nichtreligiosität, Religiosität, Lebenszufriedenheit, Atheismus, Glaubenssicherheit, soziale Normen, subjektives Wohlbefinden, Säkularität, ALLBUS, World Values SurveyGerman
Date of oral exam: 9 June 2020
NameAcademic Title
Fetchenhauer, DetlefProf. Dr.
Schlösser, ThomasPD Dr.
Funders: DFG
Projects: SOCLIFE Graduiertenkolleg
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/50458


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