Psychology researcher says spiritual meaning of Christmas brings more happiness than materialism

December 08, 2003

Religious people are happier than those without spirituality in their life, says psychologist Dr Stephen Joseph from the University of Warwick, and those who celebrate the original, Christian, meaning of Christmas are, on the whole, happier than those who primarily celebrate the festive season with consumer gifts.

Research entitled "Religiosity and its association with happiness, purpose in life, and self-actualisation" published in Mental Health, Religion & Culture reveals a positive relation between religiosity and happiness. The study also suggests that the reason for this is that religious people are happier because they have more of a sense of purpose in their lives than non-religious people.

Dr Stephen Joseph, from the University of Warwick, said: "Religious people seem to have a greater purpose in life, which is why they are happier. Looking at the research evidence, it seems that those who celebrate the Christian meaning of Christmas are on the whole likely to be happier. Research shows that too much materialism in our lives can be terrible for happiness."

One hundred and one people (57 males and 44 females) completed questionnaires to measure Attitudes Towards Christianity, Happiness, Purpose in Life, to assess the link between Christianity and happiness. Results showed that religious people are happier, and that the relation between religiosity and happiness is, in part, related to a sense of purpose in life.

Dr Stephen Joseph added: "However, it is important to note that religious beliefs are only one path to finding a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. Those who put less emphasis on striving for financial or material success in their lives and instead focus more on fostering their sense of community, for example by donating money to charity, helping others, or those who strive to have good personal relationships, tend to be happier whether or not they are religious. What seems to be important is living your life in a way that emphasises the importance of being involved in your community and caring for people, and Christmas is a reminder to us all of this message."
For more information contact: Dr Stephen Joseph, Department of Psychology, University of Warwick Mobile: 0786 780 0320, Tel: 02476 528 182 or Jenny Murray, Communications Office, University of Warwick Tel: 247-657-4255, Mobile: 787-621-7740, Email:

"Religiosity and its association with happiness, purpose in life, and self-actualisation" is published in Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Volume 2, Number 2.

University of Warwick

Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to