Friday, November 16, 2018

Data: People who waiver in their belief in God have the lowest self-esteem

Over the years, I've done a number of analyses that indicate that the psychologically most healthy people are both atheists and people who know God exists. The groups in the middle who are uncertain about God are, for example, less happy and are more likely to drink too much.

General Social Survey participants were asked how often did they feel worthless in the past 30 days.
Answers ranged from "all of the time" (1) to "none of the time" (5). Here are the means for a sample of 1,218 people:

Mean self-esteem score

Don't believe  4.88
No way to know  4.49
Some Higher Power  4.57
Believes sometimes  4.09
Believes but doubts  4.55
Knows Gods exist  4.63

Atheists have the highest mean, while confident believers come in second. At the absolute bottom are those who believe sometimes. This group is one standard deviation lower than atheists, which in English means a huge difference.

This is the pattern we've seen previously. The confident on either side are psychologically better off than those in the squishy middle. Personality might explain this. Decisive, confident people trust their abilities, and if they take a position on God, dammit they know they're right.

People who frequently doubt themselves also doubt their beliefs. One's uncertainty about oneself seems to go hand-in-hand with uncertainty about everything else.  

Also--these results contradict the view that atheists will have a low view of themselves because they are likely to believe they are the accidental product of natural forces, not the children of God. Personality seems to be much more important than people realize.  Self-esteem seems to be in your brain, not your beliefs.

1 comment:

  1. lhtness9:15 PM

    Dogmatism's gotta have some sort of benefit, or we wouldn't see nearly as much of it.


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