A computer analysis of nearly 2 million text messages (tweets) on the online social network Twitter found that Christians use more positive words, fewer negative words and engage in less analytical thinking than atheists. Christians also were more likely than atheists to tweet about their social relationships, the researchers found.
“Whether religious people experience more or less happiness is an important question in itself,” the authors of the new analysis wrote. “But to truly understand how religion and happiness are related we must also understand why the two may be related.”
To identify Christian and atheist Twitter users, the researchers studied the tweets of more than 16,000 followers of a few prominent Christian and atheist personalities on Twitter. They analyzed the tweets for their emotional content (the use of more positive or negative words), the frequency of words (such as “friend” and “brother”) that are related to social processes, and the frequency of their use of words (such as “because” and “think”) that are associated with an analytical thinking style.
Overall, tweets by Christians had more positive and less negative content than tweets by atheists, the researchers report. A less analytical thinking style among Christians and more frequent use of social words were correlated with the use of words indicating positive emotions, the researchers also said.
“If religious people are indeed happier than nonreligious people, differences in social support and thinking style may help to explain why,” said University of Illinois graduate student Ryan Ritter, who conducted the research with U. of I. psychology professor Jesse Preston and graduate student Ivan Hernandez.
The findings are also in line with other studies linking greater levels of social connectedness to higher well-being, Ritter said.
“Religious communities are very social. Just being a member of a religious group connects people to others, and it may be this social connection that can make people happier,” Preston said. “On the other hand, atheists had a more analytical thinking style in their tweets than Christians, which at extremes can make people less happy.”
Previous research has found a positive association between religion and well-being among Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims. But most such studies rely on individuals to report how satisfied they are with their lives or their experience of positive and negative emotions at a given time.
“What’s great about Twitter is that people are reporting their experiences – good or bad – as they occur,” Preston said. “As researchers, we do not need to ask them how they feel because they are already telling us.”
Christians appear to be happier than atheists on Twitter, but the authors caution that the results are correlational and “this does not mean atheists are unhappy overall or doomed to be miserable,” Preston said. “If religion improves happiness indirectly through other factors, those benefits could also be found outside religious groups.”
Note – The John Templeton Foundation partially funded this research.
To any and all Jehovah’s Witnesses;
You are part of a cult,
get out now.
Men, scientists, professors and the British are less likely to believe in God than women, children and Americans.
Many children attribute magical properties to physical objects. In one unkind experiment, infants were persuaded that a scientist had invented an apparatus that made an exact duplicate of any article placed inside it. Their favourite stuffed animal was put within, the lights flashed, and with some sleight of hand the child was given the toy back and told that it was a replica. Almost without exception, they rejected it. Somehow, the supposed copy had lost a mysterious quality present within the original. For the tearful subjects, reality involved more than the real.
In another study, nine-year-olds were asked to play a game. They had to choose which of two boxes held a reward. They were told that they were in the presence of an invisible agent, “Princess Alice”, who would make a sign if they touched the wrong one. When they did, the experimenter furtively made a light flicker. Almost all the children changed their choice: they happily accepted the reality of a higher power.
The latest research hints at a strong overlap between belief and adult temperament. Personality can be tested by giving people close-ups of eyes and telling them to identify whether the person is terrified, amused, regretful or flirtatious. They are also asked to respond to statements such as “I find it hard to keep a conversation going” or to spot prime numbers, or patterns in a set of letters.
Men, on average, score worse on the ability to sense emotion (but better on prime numbers, a talent that demands no insight into anyone else’s feelings) than do women; and university professors do worse again, while scientists come at the bottom of the list.
People with autism score even lower. Those severely affected live almost detached from the world around them. They lack empathy, concentrate on themselves and may be obsessed with a particular talent (such as being able to tell what day of the week any date will be), combined with loss of other mental abilities. Children with a milder version of the condition, Asperger’s syndrome, are often clumsy, shy and tongue-tied.
Others do much better, for they have “high-functioning autism”. Such individuals are successful, but have little insight into the emotions of others and often show a deep interest in things mechanical and numerical. The personality type is much more frequent among males than females and, at least in its most severe forms, has a strong genetic component.
On the emotion-sensing tests, those with autism proper do worst, then Asperger’s patients, followed by the high-functioning group, and then — in order — by scientists, professors and men. Women come top.
People with autism are mainly interested in the banal reality of what surrounds them and find it hard to consider the abstract world. They are, as a result, highly resistant to the idea of an invisible deity for whom no tangible evidence exists and whose thoughts cannot be penetrated. Teenagers with the condition are far less likely to express a belief in God than their unaffected classmates. The high-functioning group are also much more willing to class themselves as atheists than are their fellows — and, in decreasing order of scepticism, people with autism, Asperger’s patients, scientists, professors, men and women (in some studies, men are only half as likely to be believers as are their partners).
Perhaps a logical, systematic and self-centred personality is disposed to doubt, while a more responsive mind is more willing to summon up the divine. Believers are in emotional contact with their deity. They feel that He responds to their prayers, knows their thoughts and guides His subjects in their proper paths. They empathise with their angel and accept what they imagine to be his instructions. Those with autism, scientists and men are happier with their own thoughts.
About two thirds of Britons do not regard themselves as religious at all. In the US, the same proportion is sure that God exists — and in a recent poll a majority said that they would be more willing to vote for a Mormon, a Jew or a homosexual as president than an atheist.
When I was a lad, that figure was probably much the same for Wales, but now they are the biggest heathens on the British Isles. To find out why, you need not a scientist but a sociologist.
Found this site authored by Dr. Steven DiMatteii a biblical scholar and historian of the early Christian period. May be of interest to fellow atheists, and theists who are unsure.
What? – Atheist Census is a project to count and collect demographic information on the world’s atheists.
Why? – Atheist Census aims to build a picture of the world’s atheists – where they are, their genders and ages, their education and religious (if any) background – and use that information to demonstrate the presence and importance of atheists in societies around the world. Aggregated to the country level, the information collected by Atheist Census is freely available through the Atheist Census website so that atheists can demonstrate their presence in their own countries. AAI would be pleased to discuss other uses of the information with like-minded groups or individuals.
“Our prayers are with the victims of this tragedy.” As an atheist, this makes me choke on my own afterbirth. Sympathy and compassion is one thing, but proclaiming that you’re going to talk to god for the victims is outright disrespectful. Of course the rest of the population will not see it this way. Behold, I’m only a concerned citizen.
America leads the world in school shooting…why is this? The land of opportunity, where everyone has an equal opportunity at education and even a future… if they can survive. Question, which is worse 1) surviving a zombie apocalypse or 2) Surviving public school. A student would almost be tempted to drop out just for the sheer precaution of safety.
The reality is this, these tragedies are unavoidable. The consistent “bullying” that leads the youth to these destructive decisions is unavoidable. Bullying is a part of life and the human condition…it…
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I really don’t think I need to say too much about the above image, needless to say a few offered to pray for me so I asked them to pray for the abused kids – or better still, to stop fucking condoning it.
UK census reveals there are 4 million fewer Christians and 1 in 4 is now an atheist – reason prevails
Data from the 2011 UK census, which was released today, reveals the understandable decline of religion within the UK; with the number of Christians dropping by more than 4million. In fact only 59.3% of the population in England and Wales now describe themselves as Christian, and the proportion of Muslims has risen from 3.0 per cent to 4.8 per cent since 2001, raising the prospect that Christians could soon be in the minority! What with all these Atheists.
Interestingly, those who selected the box for ‘no religious affiliation’ rose from 14.8% in 2001 to 25.1% in 2011 with the Christian category falling from 71.7% over the same period to 59.3% of us Brits. Christianity still remains the largest religion at 33.2million, or nearly six out of 10 people, in spite of registering a fall of just over 4million in the last decade.
I am pleased to confirm that the figures show there are now 14.1million people of ‘no religion’ in England and Wales, almost a 50% increase in comparison to 7.7million in 2001.
Daily Mail gets pissed off
An article of pure sensationalist crap in today’s Daily Mail claims that the rise in atheism comes on the crest of a wave of “high-profile anti-religious screeds” [their words] by respected writers Richard Dawkins, Phil Pullman and Chris Hitchens. I suggest that actually greater scientific understanding and education has allowed people free of the shackles of organised religion. That and the hypocritical and deplorable behaviour of mainstream religion.
The Daily Mail also points to The British Humanist Association who launched a campaign ahead of the census encouraging people to tick the box ‘no religion’ if they were brought up as Christian but had since walked away the religion. No mention of the last census and the increase of the ‘Jedi’ religion though.
The clearly ‘Christian biased’ wording of the article was written by an anonymous Daily Mail reporter. In other words someone with no minerals and shit scared to put their name to a pile of crap. Particularly as they seem to be bashing the Muslim faith at every opportunity too.
I for one have no respect for this tabloid and haven’t for years, I’d rather read The Sun and often do. But I recommend you do visit the article if only to check out the interactive map at the end of it. I have also commented on the article, but I do not expect to see it printed.