New Scientific Research on Benefits of Belief in a Deity?

Let’s get on the same footing – whether the reader is personally a believer or not – this serious research authored by Professor Michael Inzlicht at the University of Toronto, has something important to teach us about our brain.

The research appears in the journal Psychological Science, March 2009. It is collaboration between University of Toronto and York University, both in Canada.

Belief in God Can Help Block Anxiety and Minimizes Stress

There are distinctive differences in brain function between believers and non-believers. Two separate studies with participants hooked up to electrodes measuring
their brain activity – fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery) – clearly
indicate weak activity in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) by Believers.

So What?

The ACC causes behavior modification by signaling when more attention and
control are required. Huh? When we make a mistake, an error in spelling,
grammar or comprehension, our brain becomes agitated and an alarm goes off in our brain.

This distress (anxiety, worry, and fear) gets us to pay attention in learning.
Imagine! – the stronger their level of commitment and belief in a Deity, the less mistakes they made, and less their ACC fired – compared to non-believers. Weird? Fact.

One-more-once, our ACC (Anterior Cingulate Cortex) fires like crazy when we confront Uncertainty, Mistakes, or Opposition. There is a scientifically measurable difference in the activation of ACC between Believers and Non-believers to the same errors, mistakes, over uncertainties.

The believers were not necessarily church goers, the key element was a belief system that accepted a personal Deity. They just did not get stressed out by their own error experiences.

Gallup Poll

In the U.S. belief in God is down from 86% in 1999, to 78% in 2008. The Gallup Poll, Values and Beliefs department, offered three choices:

a) Belief in God

b) Belief in a Universal Spirit/Higher Power

c) Don’t believe in either.

This is the fourth polling on this subject, the last occurring May 8-11,

Calming Effect

The scientists conclude: religious belief has a calming effect on its adherents. The make fewer mistakes, plus they feel less anxiety and avoid stress after making
an error. Facing the unknown has less of a hold on believers.


Too much (chronic) overactive stress causes Analysis-Paralysis, and shuts down logical reasoning. But, we want to be alert, aware, and realize when we make a mistake in order to correct it.

If you and I do not experience some level of anxiety when we make a mistake,
what makes us improve and change for the better and avoid the same error in the


Stress is divided into Chronic Stress with its negative effects on body and mind,
and Eustress, an excitement that permits a level of activity called In-The-Flow
or Peak Performance. Actors desire Eustress before a show.

Finally, we suggest self-improvement to be more competitive in school and career.
Would you obtain more promotions if you could read-and-remember three (3) books, articles and reports in the time your peers could hardly finish one?

Speed Reading is your secret weapon.

See ya,

copyright © 2009, H. Bernard Wechsler

Author's Bio: 

Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by Barron's. Business partner of Evelyn Wood, creator of Speed Reading, graduating 2 million, including the White House staffs of four U.S. Presidents.