Published On: Mon, Jan 5th, 2015

New study: Religion leads to ‘stronger worldviews’ which reduces use of alcohol, tobacco

Public domain image/Jon Sullivan

Public domain image/Jon Sullivan

A newly released study from researchers at the University of Florida examined teenagers’ worldviews and the impact these perspectives have on deterring drugs and alcohol, finding that stronger religious worldviews correlate with less substance use.

Psychology professor and study researcher James Shepperd said in the Jan. 3 article that one should interpret “worldview” as “an explanatory way of seeing the world” — one that helps in answering some of life’s most pressing questions, according to Deseret News.

The study, titled, “Does Religion Offer Worldviews That Dissuade Adolescent Substance Use?“ found that religious worldviews can be effective at helping discourage young people from using and abusing due to the fact that most faiths encourage positive and moral behavior in the lives of young adherents.

“Worldviews provide answers to questions such as who am I, why am I here, and how should I behave,” reads the study’s abstract. ”We examined whether being religious corresponds with having a stronger worldview and whether the worldview accounts for the commonly observed relationship between religiousness and substance use.”

Religious adolescents were less likely to report substance use. “Analysis revealed that nonreligious adolescents, compared with religious adolescents, were more likely in the prior six months, to have smoked cigarettes (14 percent versus 6 percent), drunk alcohol (34 percent versus 19 percent), and used marijuana (17 percent versus 7 percent),” the study reported.

Given that other factors such as a lack of opportunity and friend group composition have also been shown to reduce risky behaviors among religious teens, the researchers then looked specifically at worldview’s role in deterring substance use. They found that it did not fully explain the link between religiosity and reduced substance abuse, but it was one statistically siginificant factor in the relationship, Shepperd said.

In short, they found that religiosity leads to stronger worldviews among teens, which in turn leads to reduced substance use.

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