So Many Choices, So Little Time: Religiosity and theStress of Making Decisions

Joshua David Boeke


Numerous studies have appeared in the literature demonstrating that religiosity and mental health are positively related. However, although investigators have identified several variables that partially mediate the effects of religiosity on mental health, much of this relationship remains unexplained. The goal of this survey study was to examine to what extent religious individuals experience better mental health outcomes because they experience less stress when making decisions. Specifically, this study evaluated whether religious individuals reduce the number of decision alternatives they consider when making decisions, which in tum should make decision making easier and reduce decision-making stress. Participants were asked to complete a survey consisting of a variety of previously validated religion and mental health measures. In addition, participants were asked to respond to a series of newly developed decision-making scenarios and to recall decisions made in the past, as well as to complete some ancillary measures. The results of the study did not support the primary hypothesis. Religiosity was shown to correlate significantly with positive aspects of mental health, but general decision-making variables did not mediate this relationship. However, data collected using ancillary measures suggested that religious individuals experience less stress related to a specific type of decision-making, deciding between conflicting goals. Furthermore, amount of goal -conflict was shown to be a significant mediator between religiosity and mental health, suggesting that one of the ways that religion promotes mental health is by reducing stress related to goal-conflict.