Issue Date: April 4, 2008
Study: Spirituality a big part of kid's happiness
TORONTO -- Spirituality is a major contributor to a childs overall happiness -- even more so than for adults -- according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.
The study tested 315 children ages 9 to 12, measuring spirituality and other factors such as temperament and social relations that can affect an individuals sense of happiness.
Our goal was to see whether theres a relation between spirituality and happiness, said Mark Holder, associate professor of psychology and the studys coauthor. We knew going in that there was such a relation in adults, so we took multiple measures of spirituality and happiness in children.
Past studies have shown that in adults, spiritual feelings and higher levels of religious behavior typically account for about 5 percent of a persons overall happiness, said a statement from the University of British Columbia.
The results of the study came as a surprise: 6.5 to 16.5 percent of childrens happiness can be accounted for by spirituality.
From our perspective, its a whopping big effect, said Holder. I expected it to be much less -- I thought their spirituality would be too immature to account for their well-being.
Children in the study were asked to rate statements such as I feel a higher powers presence, and answer questions including, How often do you pray or meditate privately outside of church or other places of worship?
Parents were also asked to describe each childs apparent happiness and spirituality, and teachers rated each childs happiness level.
The studys authors plan to conduct the same research in India to see whether children score similar results in a country not dominated by Christianity.
-- Religion News Service
National Catholic Reporter, April 4, 2008
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