Anger Management: Studies Show Prayer Helps, Even If You Don't Believe In It
Suffering from excessive anger or aggression? Well, throw away your stress balls. A series of studies conducted at three universities show that praying helps dissipate your anger, whether or not it helps the person you are praying for.
The studies were conducted at Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and the VU University in Amsterdam. Subjects were not required to be Christian, except in the Netherlands study, as there are many atheists in the Netherlands who would have refused to pray. The participants in the U.S., however, all happened to be Christians.
Each of the project's experiments were somewhat different, but the subjects all responded to questionnaires that measured their levels of anger, fatigue, depression, vigor, and tension before and after the experiments.
In some of the experimental groups, subjects were provoked to feel angry by design. After feeling angry, some subjects were told a story and asked to pray for the person in the story. In other situations, subjects were asked to pray for the person who made them angry.
The results showed that regardless of who was prayed for, the person who did the offending or a third person, even an unknown person, the effects of prayer significantly reduced the subjects' feelings of anger.
"The effects we found in these experiments were quite large, which suggests that prayer may really be an effective way to calm anger and aggression," said Brad Bushman, Ohio State psychology professor and co-author of the study.
Of course, he added that the prayers had better be positive ones, and not vengeful or hateful.
Another interesting finding in the study was that, though Christian, the students were not all particularly religious, nor did some of them believe in prayer, but prayer was able to calm their anger, nevertheless. I would suggest, then, for the atheists among you, that meditation might deliver much the same anger management benefits as prayer.
The full study is published online in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
source: Medical News Today