The New York Times reports that Michael McCullough, the guest for our program on revenge and forgiveness, is publishing a study on the correlation between religion and self-control. McCullough and fellow psychologist Brian Willoughby reviewed several decades worth of existing research and found evidence that religious observance improves the ability to maintain self-discipline.
McCullough notes that simply practicing religious rituals (e.g., going to church) doesn’t necessarily help without a belief foundation — but he also gives some comments for “non-believers” hoping to turn things around next year:
"People can have sacred values that aren’t religious values," he said. "Self-reliance might be a sacred value to you that’s relevant to saving money. Concern for others might be a sacred value that’s relevant to taking time to do volunteer work. You can spend time thinking about what values are sacred to you and making New Year’s resolutions that are consistent with them."