YU study finds correlation between services, optimism


NEW YORK (JTA) – A new study by Yeshiva University found a correlation between regular attendance at religious services and an optimistic outlook. 

The study, to be published next week in the Journal of Religion and Health, examined data from 92,539 postmenopausal women who were participating in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. According to the report, 56 percent of those who attended services frequently have a more optimistic life outlook than those who do not and 27 percent were less likely to be depressed. In addition, 54 percent of those who attend services regularly said that they have strong social support. The study also found that those who attened services regulary were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility.  

“There is a correlation, but that does not mean there is causality,” said Eliezer Schnall, the clinical associate professor of psychology at Yeshiva University who led the study. “One could argue people who are more optimistic may be drawn to religious services.”

Schnall also said that the findings may not apply to younger people or men because the study only focused on older women. 

In 2008, Schnall led a study that found that those attending services regularly had a lower mortality rate during the time period in which they were being studied. 

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