Reaching resolution: The effect of prayer on psychological perspective and emotional acceptance

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Psychology of Religion and Spirituality


prayer. emotional acceptance, construal level theory, psychological perspective


In two experiments, we examined the mechanisms underlying the wide-ranging benefits of prayer on well-being. In line with research on psychological distance, we hypothesized that greater perspective mediates the emotional benefits of prayer. Participants were randomly assigned to pray or think about a personal problem and then reported their emotional management and cognitive understanding of the problem. In both experiments, those in the prayer condition reported having greater perspective and more emotional acceptance of their problem than those in the thought condition. The effect of prayer on acceptance was partially mediated by perspective. We found no benefit of prayer on cognitive measures. Our research suggests that prayer expands people’s psychological perspective, which then improves their emotional management of personal problems.


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