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Religious people tend to be less intelligent but happier

Religious people tend to be less intelligent but happier

January 25, 2022

Faith and religion have been constant elements in the history of humanity from its first moments. Where did the sea come from, day and night or even life? What are we and why are we like this? What meaning does our life have? Through different explanations it was sought to give a sense to the existing reality, forging beliefs that would end up being fixed and transmitted throughout the generations.

Many of these beliefs have been structured in the form of different religions that although on the one hand they have served for a long time to give hope and a sense to what surrounds us, they have also been used to manipulate and control the behavior of our peers.


However, beyond the social effect of religions, you are also associated with personal psychological characteristics. For example, there is evidence that religious people, statistically, are less intelligent and happier than average.

  • Related article: "Types of religion (and their differences of beliefs and ideas)"

The psychological effects of faith

Religion has traditionally been based on faith, but explanations of the reality that it usually adopts tend not to be verifiable through experience.

Many of the precepts that have defended the different religions have shown to have an explanation different from that proposed by science. The perception that on many occasions Faith has been used as a method of control and manipulation , has generated that with the passage of time the number of believers and the role of religiosity has been reduced more and more in recent times, as more people can find information that puts into question religious dogmas.


The act of believing or not doing it tends to generate some differences in the way of conceptualizing the world and reality. Next we will see a series of differences between religious and non-religious people .

Differential characteristics between believers and non-believers

A great deal of research has been done regarding the differences between religious and non-religious with different purposes and from different perspectives. Some of the results reflected by these investigations are the following.

1. Relationship between intelligence level and religiosity

Various studies and meta-analyzes carried out with different sectors of the population establish that there is an inverse relationship between intellectual performance and religiosity . While these data reflect that people with higher IQ tend to be less religious, these data should be analyzed with caution. In fact, the studies carried out do not reflect that this relationship is causal (that is, it is not established that it is more intelligent because it is not religious or vice versa), being able to obey the relationship found to different variables.


There are several hypotheses about these results, indicating for example that the presence of a higher intellectual level makes it more possible to discuss and not accept ideas imposed externally, which can reject orthodox or inflexible positions and adopt nonconformist positions more easily. Likewise, many people with a higher intellectual level tend to need a more logical and analytical explanation of the events. Another hypothesis proposes that a high intelligence can also allow tolerate uncertainty and provide a framework for action in cases of need, which makes it less necessary to seek an explanation of a spiritual nature.

2. Level of anxiety

Other studies show that religious people have a more defined framework of behavior and an explanation of reality than it facilitates that they have a lower level of vital uncertainty . They also manifest a lower level of concern about making mistakes. These aspects are linked to a lower activation of the anterior cingulate, part of the brain related to the response to stress and anxiety, in believers compared to non-believers.

3. Survival and well-being in diseases

Religiosity seems to contribute to prolong survival in cases of serious diseases, as well as to improve the quality of life of people whose disorders are chronic. The least uncertainty and the faith of people with religious and spiritual beliefs cause them to have greater resilience to be able to rely on these beliefs in difficult times.

  • Related article: "Resilience: definition and 10 habits to enhance it"

4. Tendency to tolerance

Non-believers tend to tend to be more tolerant with other ways of seeing life different from one's own than those who profess a high level of religiosity.Professing a faith implies circumscribing a concrete framework of thought and action that differs from that of others, which in some cases facilitates the birth of fanaticism and discrimination against others.

5. Subjective well-being

Believers tend to manifest a higher level of well-being in various studies, partly because of the feeling of belonging which means sharing something with others, like faith. However, it must be borne in mind that this data may depend to a large extent on the place where the survey is conducted and how the religion in question of the aforementioned religion is viewed socially.

Bibliographic references:

  • Zuckerman, M .; Silberman, J. & Hall, J.A. (2013). The relationship between intelligence and religiosity: A meta-analysis and some proposed explanations. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14 (4).
  • Lim, C. & Putnam, R.D. (2010). Religion, Social Networks and Life Satisfaction. American Sociological Review, 75 (6).

Does Believing in God Make You Dumb? (January 2022).


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