Lonely religious people feel less isolated than lonely atheists because God substitutes a friend, according to a new study.
Relationships are key for humans to feel motivated, connected and give us a sense of purpose.
New research by psychologists at the University of Michigan shows that among those who feel lonely, those who believe in a religion lose the will to live because their faith fills that gap.
According to the doctoral student Todd Chan, the lead author, God comes to be seen literally as a friend.
However, religion was not yet enough to replace all the qualities that come from human interaction.
New research by psychologists at the University of Michigan shows that among those who feel alone, those who believe in a religion are less likely to lose their will because faith fills that gap.
"For the socially disconnected, God can serve as a substitute relationship that compensates for part of the purpose that human relationships would normally provide," Chan said.
This is Chan's conclusion of three separate studies involving 19,775 people, the last of which was published last week in the Journal of Personality.
Each person was surveyed about their friendships, religious beliefs, feelings of loneliness and sense of purpose.
For those who were not alone, faith did not have a significant impact on their levels of happiness, sense of belonging or purpose.
However, those who felt that they did not have many friends benefited strongly from taking advantage of religion and turning to God as a friend … when they lack supportive social connections & # 39;
Co-author Nicholas Michalak, a graduate student in psychology, added: "Our research suggests that because two people feel equally disconnected, the individual who feels more connected to God will have a better sense of life."
However, even with God as a friend, it is not enough to combat the lack of human contact.
"These results certainly do not suggest that people can or should trust God over people for their purpose," said co-author Oscar Ybarra, a professor of psychology and a faculty associate at the U-M Social Research Institute. "Quality human connections remain a primary and permanent source of purpose in life."