Religion: A Force For Self-Control?

TOPICs: religion, evolutionary psychology

Prompted by a recent news release on Science Daily, I had promised myself time to blog about and review McCullough & Willoughby's recent meta-analysis article on Religion and self-regulation, due out in Psychological Bulletin.

As I sat down this evening to organize some thoughts, I was surprised (although in retrospect surely shouldn't have been) to see I'm behind the curve already, with several blogs already responding to the news release and journal article — for example, see: Tim Rees' brief critical response (Improve your self control... with religion?) at the BHA Science Group blog. Since most of the blogs I've seen, however, seem to be responding directly to the news release (or related articles, like John Tierney's of the New York Times) instead of the actual research article, it's clear there's still plenty of opportunity (and need) to look carefully at the research article itself (downloadable in pre-print pdf form from Prof Michael McCullough's University of Miami website.

And that's where I will pick up tomorrow, beginning with McCullough & Willoughby's stimulating introduction and description of half-dozen or so propositions laying out the potential connections between religion and self-regulation.

In the meantime, here are some related video comments from McCullough himself (courtesy of the University of Miami website):


McCullough, Michael (2008). Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

See details at Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Revenge-Evolution-Forgiveness-Instinct/dp/078797756X/ref=si3_rdr_bb_product.

McCullough, Michael E. & Willoughby, Brian L. B. (2009). Religion, self-regulation, and self-control: associations, explanations, implications. Psychological Bulletin, in press.

A pre-print pdf of this article is available from the author's web site at http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Religion_Research.htm

Rees, Tom (1/1/2009). Improve your self control... with religion? A BHA Science Group Blog entry accessed 1/4/2009 at http://bhascience.blogspot.com/2009/01/improve-your-self-control-with-religion.html?

Religion, Self-control, and Values (1/3/2009). TS-Si News Service, article accessed 1/4/2009 at http://www.ts-si.org/the-discussion/3708-religion-self-control-and-values.html

Religion May Have Evolved Because Of Its Ability To Help People Exercise Self-control (1/1/2009). Accessed 1/1/2009 at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081231005355.htm

Tierney, John (12/29/2008). For Good Self-Control, Try Getting Religious About It. The New York Times accessed 1/4/2009 at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/30/science/30tier.html?