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God help me: priming religious concepts improves affective response to a stressful task
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 10:57 authored by David J. Craig
A substantial body of research suggests that religiosity is associated with better mental health, including reduced depression and anxiety, and the protective influence of religiosity appears to be stronger under stress. However, less is known about the mechanisms or pathways underpinning these associations, and it is unknown if religiosity has a direct or immediate effect on mood. This study used a priminh mechanism to explore whether thoughts of God would improve affect either immediately, or after a stressor task. Participants in the religious prime group had significantly higher positive affect scores after stress, controlling for pre-stressor mood, age, gender, and images of God. The priming effect was moderated by both Controlling God and Loving God image, such that the religious prime had the greatest effect on participants with low scores on the Controlling and/or Loving God image scales. Higher Loving God image scores were associated with higher Positive Affect overall. Results suggest that, for individuals with religious faith, subconscious priming of God concepts helps protect against adverse responses to stress.