Religious Music Boosts Mental Health: Study

Monday, 21 Apr 2014 04:47 PM

By Nick Tate

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Music soothes the savage … mind. That's the upshot of new research published online in The Gerontologist that shows listening to religious music can ease anxiety about death and increase life satisfaction, self-esteem, and sense of control in older people.
 
In particular, gospel music is a powerful antidote to anxiety over death, according to the researchers — regardless of a person's age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

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"Religion is an important socio-emotional resource that has been linked with desirable mental health outcomes among older U.S. adults," said researchers from Baylor University, the University of Texas-San Antonio, Bowling Green State University, and Duke. "This study shows that listening to religious music may promote psychological well-being in later life."

The findings are based on surveys taken in 2001 and 2004 involving more than 1,000 Christians and non-Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Participants were asked how often they listened to religious music and gospel music on a scale ranging from "never" to "several times a day."
 
Death anxiety, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and sense of control were measured by how strongly the respondents agreed with a series of statements, including:
  • I find it hard to face up to the fact that I will die;
  • These are the best years of my life; and
  • I have a lot of influence over most things that happen in my life.
 
Those who frequently listened to religious music tended to have more positive answers, the researchers found.
 
"Given that religious music is available to most individuals — even those with health problems or physical limitations that might preclude participating in more formal aspects of religious life — it might be a valuable resource for promoting mental health later in the life course, " they concluded.

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