Religious Life-Styles and Mental Health: An Exploratory Study

Allen E. Bergin, Randy D. Stinchfield, Thomas A. Gaskin, Kevin S. Masters, Clyde E. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


In this article, we continue a line of inquiry concerning relations among values, religion, and mental health. In response to the continuing ambiguity of data on the subject, we made an intensive, case-by-case assessment of life-styles of a sample of religious students. This allowed for more careful examination of the issues in question than an extensive study, which is more common but perhaps less revealing. We identified differing styles of religiousness and made comparisons by means of tests and interviews between subgroups whose subjects manifested differing religious life-styles. Those subjects with continuous religious development and mild religious experiences appeared to be healthier than those with discontinuous development and intense religious experiences; however, intense religious experiences tended to enhance the adjustment of those who experienced them. There was no evidence in the group as a whole for an overall negative or positive correlation between religiousness and mental health, but some modes of religious involvement appeared to be related to disturbance, whereas other modes appeared to be related to enhanced stability and resilience. Because causality in these relations remains uncertain, we generate hypotheses concerning further studies of life-styles and adjustment. We also discuss implications for student counseling and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-98
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1988
Externally publishedYes


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