NY Times Article: Religion and Self-Control

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NY Times Article: Religion and Self-Control

I didn't see this mentioned anywhere, but I thought it would be of interest.

In today's NY Times, there was an article entitled "For Good Self-Control, Try Getting Religious About It."

The article describes studies which suggest that people who are religious tend to have greater self-control and are less impulsive. In addition, "[r]esearchers around the world have repeatedly found that devoutly religious people tend to do better in school, live longer, have more satisfying marriages and be generally happier." The article points out that it's not clear if being religious gives people more control, or if people with control are better able to be "faithful" in practicing, but I thought it was a very interesting article.


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I find it interesting that

I find it interesting that no one ever seems to notice that these studies usually equate following externally-imposed rules with self-control.

If one looks at it more realistically, it should come as no surprise at all that folks who better conform to such rules would also tend be religious.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


Hambydammit
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 I appreciate the fact that

 I appreciate the fact that he mentions the extrinsically religious.  About halfway through the piece, I was wondering whether they addressed that or not.

As I read the article, I kept asking myself what seemed like an obvious question:  "Is self restraint necessarily a good quality?"  I see a lot of people who miss out on life because they're too restrained.  How much better would some people's lives be if they paid a little less attention to staying restrained and just did things that would make them happy.  I'm reminded of people who die with tons of money in the bank because they saved every penny they made and never went on a frivolous vacation.

Another thing that comes to mind is that the religious are far more likely to score high on the RWA scale (Right Wing Authoritarian) than the non-religious.  Authoritarian Followers are much more likely to do a thing "because it's supposed to be that way" than anti-authoritarians.  The very makeup of their personality suggests that they would appear more methodical and "tempered" than others.  I guess I'm saying that I can think of a reasonable hypothesis to explain why the self-controlled tend to be religious, rather than the religious tending to be self-controlled.

All in all, I think the findings are probably relatively accurate, but I don't like the way it's presented.  It seems to be tooting the horn of religion as having some societal benefit, and I'll bet dimes to dollars that if I read the full study, I'd find no such implications.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Cpt_pineapple
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I can somewhat see it.  One

I can somewhat see it.

 

One of my cousins was somewhat was a purge spender. She spend it on clothes, candy etc.. an impulse shopper if you will.

 

Now she's rather religious, and her and her husband are going to tour Europe this summer. She never would have saved enough money for this when she was spending it on shoes/skirts.

 

Now she donated most of the excess clothes to charity. Volunteers more and seems much happier.

 

 

On the other hand, I have little self-control, (I constantly procastranate.) meh.

 

 

 


Hambydammit
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 The only really clear

 The only really clear personality trait I've ever seen linked to religiosity is authoritarianism.  Like I said, I can see a possible correlation between authoritarianism and thriftiness or self control, but I'd sure like to see some very hard data before I was ready to commit to it.

The other thing I'm anxious to see is whether this team does follow up studies on non-religious disciplines that require the same kinds of devotion.  Sports teams come to mind, as do political action groups, environmental activist groups, and a few others.  I suspect that any kind of organization that requires rigorous devotion to a cause either inspires the same kind of mentality or draws people of that mentality in.

Put another way, I seriously doubt religion is the only place where we can witness this phenomenon.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Cpt_pineapple
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Hambydammit wrote:Put

Hambydammit wrote:

Put another way, I seriously doubt religion is the only place where we can witness this phenomenon.

 

 

 

I doubt that's what the authour was trying to portray.

 

 

 


Hambydammit
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 If you read my original

 If you read my original answer, you'll see that I agree with you.  I doubt the author of the study was trying to say this.  I felt like the author of the news article was skirting around it... saying it without sounding like he was saying it.

Could be my bias.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Cpt_pineapple
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Hambydammit wrote: If you

Hambydammit wrote:

 If you read my original answer, you'll see that I agree with you.  I doubt the author of the study was trying to say this.  I felt like the author of the news article was skirting around it... saying it without sounding like he was saying it.

 

 

I think the authour was atheist.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

Could be my bias.

 

 

Ya think?

 

 

 


Hambydammit
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 Quote:I think the authour

 

Quote:
I think the authour was atheist.

The author of the news article appeared to be atheist.  I know nothing of the study author.

Quote:
Ya think?

It's possible, though after re-reading the article several times on several days, I'm pretty sure it's going out of its way to accomodate religion.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Cpt_pineapple
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The Article wrote:Dr.

The Article wrote:

Dr. McCullough has no evangelical motives. He confesses to not being much of a devotee himself. “When it comes to religion,” he said, “professionally, I’m a fan, but personally, I don’t get down on the field much.”

 

Study Authour

 

 

The Article wrote:

 

Does this mean that nonbelievers like me should start going to church?

 

Article Authour

 

 

 

The Article wrote:

 

“People can have sacred values that aren’t religious values,” he said. “Self-reliance might be a sacred value to you that’s relevant to saving money. Concern for others might be a sacred value that’s relevant to taking time to do volunteer work. You can spend time thinking about what values are sacred to you and making New Year’s resolutions that are consistent with them.”

 

 

 

Saying it doesn't have to come from religion.

 

 

 

I am rather surprised you missed all this.

 

I only read the article once, and then skimmed through it another time and I picked up on it.

 

 

 


Hambydammit
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 Pineapple, have you

 Pineapple, have you noticed that I have used the words "study" and "article" throughout this thread?  Go back and reread them and you will see that I have a firm grasp on what you've just said.

 {EDIT: To clarify, go back and see that I have not accused the article author of being theist.  I have accused him of pandering to theists.}

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit
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 Quote:Dr. McCullough has

 

Quote:

Dr. McCullough has no evangelical motives. He confesses to not being much of a devotee himself. “When it comes to religion,” he said, “professionally, I’m a fan, but personally, I don’t get down on the field much.”
 So... atheist, or non-practicing theist.  I dunno. 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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How is it pandering exactly?

How is it pandering exactly? It's not like he's saying this can only come from religion. If the study find high self-control among the religious, how is it pandering to report it?

 

He even said it didn't have to come from religion at the end of the article.

 

 


Hambydammit
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 Like I said, maybe it's my

 Like I said, maybe it's my bias, but I read:

Religion: self control: good

Religion: self control: good

Religion: self control: good

Religion: self control: good

(Oh yeah, and atheists can be self controlled too)

I'm going to back off of my position now because I haven't read the study.  Until I do so, I can't say that the article author is misrepresenting the study.  I suspect he is, but you're right.  I'm out of my epistemic rights to say so without reading the study itself.

I'll get back to you once I get a hold of the study.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Video of Dr. McCullough

Video of Dr. McCullough discussing the study

 

 


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Hambydammit wrote: Like I

Hambydammit wrote:

 Like I said, maybe it's my bias, but I read:

Religion: self control: good

Religion: self control: good

Religion: self control: good

Religion: self control: good

(Oh yeah, and atheists can be self controlled too)

I'm going to back off of my position now because I haven't read the study.  Until I do so, I can't say that the article author is misrepresenting the study.  I suspect he is, but you're right.  I'm out of my epistemic rights to say so without reading the study itself.

I'll get back to you once I get a hold of the study.

 

 

Religion: Hamby's ultimate panty twister

 

 

And here's the actual study

 

 

http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Papers/Relig_self_control_bulletin.pdf

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:Religion: Hamby's

 

Quote:
Religion: Hamby's ultimate panty twister

 

 

And here's the actual study

Bookmarked for reading after work.  Thanks for doing my websearching for me.  I'm going to read the full study, then I'm going to read that article one more time.  Shame on me for making a big deal of something I wasn't prepared to talk about.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Seeing studies like this

 

Seeing studies like this makes me think that someone is looking for an excuse to say, "Obey us! We know what's best for YOU. Religion is the only way to to control yourself, by havign us control you."  Self-control in reference to what? Money, sex, travel, music, food, books, etc. A consitant idea I saw throughout school was, "Do what you are told.", so yeah I guess those who are obidient would "do better" in school. (I also question the stand they used to determine "better" ) Doesn't answer the question of: Will they use the knowlegde they learned?  (How many great thinkers/inventers where dropouts from convential learning institutions?) What is the purpose of teaching these obidiently religious students science when all they will do is chuck it out the window the moment it conflicts with their faith.

Well I suppose you could also ask if druggies are happier too when they are busy avoiding reality on the high they are taking in. The happiness always ends when reality enters the picture.

 

{EDIT}

I am reading the study atm and found this section of interest.

 

 

 

Religion and the Real-Time Process of Self-Regulation

Thus far, we have proposed that religiousness is associated with

higher levels of self-control. However, some of religion.s putative

effects on behavior and well-being are not about .overriding

prepotent responses. (which defines self-control), but rather, steering

one.s behavior according to goals more generally (which

defines the broader concept of self-regulation). In Carver and

Scheier.s (1998) model of self-regulation, which was informed by

cybernetic theory (e.g., Wiener, 1948), self-control is conceptualized

as a dynamical process by which people bring their behavior

into conformity with a standard through the operation of feedback

loops consisting of several integrated functions. The first function

is an

input function that detects the system.s state. In human terms,comparator function that comparesreference value can beoutput function, is activated to reduce that

this is equivalent to one.s perceptions of the self and the environment.

The second function is a

the system.s state to a reference value. A

conceptualized as a goal, a standard, or an ideal. When the comparator

indicates that the state of a system matches the reference

value, the system changes nothing, and the existing state is maintained.

When the comparator registers a discrepancy between the

system.s actual state and its reference value, a third function,

referred to as an

discrepancy. A self-regulating system continuously self-monitors

for discrepancies and attempts to minimize those discrepancies

through its outputs.


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 the reason that studies

 the reason that studies such as this are utterly meaningless is that any type of program which concentrates on focus/discipline can produce these results. religion, meditation, a gym membership, martial arts, military service, even credit counseling can all produce mediocre to drastic changes in an individual's level of self-control and sense of responsiblility as well as better personal organization and life management, and achieving these things generally leads to happiness. even things as simple as aging and maturing, or finding the right person and settling into a productive long-term relationship, can do wonders for the ADD slacker in all of us.

religion is just one of thousands of ways to improve focus and discipline through self imposed guidelines and restrictions.

for me personally, age and maturity have led to a ridiculously happy marriage and a meaningful & satisfying career. and those things, in turn, have helped make me a better person all around.

www.derekneibarger.com http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=djneibarger "all postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory." -christopher hitchens


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 Quote: Directions for

 

Quote:
 

Directions for Future Research

Given the state of current knowledge about religion.s relationships

with self-regulation and self-control, we see six high priorities

for future research. One large knowledge gap concerns

whether religion (either as a primed concept or as an individual

difference) facilitates comparison of one.s goals with one.s current

behavior. Another large knowledge gap concerns whether religious

mental activity consumes self-regulatory resources acutely,

whether it builds self-regulatory strength over time, and whether it

delays depletion of self-regulatory strength during regulatory effort.

We hope researchers who test these hypotheses will move

beyond cross-sectional studies to longitudinal and experimental

studies that can address questions of causality (e.g., Fishbach et al.,

2003). With newly developed techniques for manipulating religious

cognition in the laboratory (e.g., Shariff & Norenzayan,

2007; Wenger, 2003, 2004, 2007), experimental studies are eminently

feasible.

 

 

 

Yeah, causality...