Be centred on god to be shielded from distress, anxiety


Toronto: Being centred on god not only shields people from distress and anxiety, but they are also less likely to be upset by mistakes.

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Researchers showed that when people think about religion and god, their brains respond differently – in a way that lets them take setbacks in stride and react with less distress to anxiety-provoking mistakes.

Researchers from Canada’s University of Toronto measured brain waves for a particular kind of distress-response while participants committed mistakes on a test, reports the journal Psychological Science.

“Eighty-five percent of the world has some sort of religious beliefs,” says Michael Inzlicht, who co-wrote the study with Alexa Tullett.

“I think it behooves us as psychologists to study why people have these beliefs; exploring what functions, if any, they may serve,” observes Inzlicht, according to a University of Toronto statement.

Study participants either wrote about religion or did a scrambled word task that included religion and god-related words.

Then the researchers recorded their brain activity as they completed a computerised task – one that was chosen because it had a high rate of errors.

The results showed that when people were primed to think about religion and god, consciously or unconsciously, brain activity decreases in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), an area which serves to alert us when things go wrong, including mistakes.

The researchers suggest that for religious people, thinking about god may explain apparently random events and thus reduce their feelings of distress.