Why religion’s burdens are light: From religiosity to implicit self-regulation

S.L. Koole, M.E. McCullough, J. Kuhl, P.H.M.P. Roelofsma

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To maintain religious standards, individuals must frequently endure aversive or forsake pleasurable experiences. Yet religious individuals on average display higher levels of emotional well-being compared to nonreligious individuals. The present article seeks to resolve this paradox by suggesting that many forms of religion may facilitate a self-regulatory mode that is flexible, efficient, and largely unconscious. In this implicit mode of self-regulation, religious individuals may be able to strive for high standards and simultaneously maintain high emotional well-being. A review of the empirical literature confirmed that religious stimuli and practices foster implicit self-regulation, particularly among individuals who fully internalized their religion's standards. The present work suggests that some seemingly irrational aspects of religion may have important psychological benefits by promoting implicit self-regulation. © 2010 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Why religion’s burdens are light: From religiosity to implicit self-regulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this