Term of Award
Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)
Document Type and Release Option
Thesis (open access)
Department of Psychology
Janie H. Wilson
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Katherine E. Wiegand
Social networks are associated with positive health outcomes such as higher ratings of life-satisfaction, reduced risk of mortality, and decreased cardiovascular responses. Similarly, religiosity has been found to be beneficial to both physical and mental health. Specifically, religious involvement has been associated with decreased blood pressure and heart rate. Further, a social presence during a stressful event has been associated with reduced stress as measured by heart rate, blood pressure, and lower self-reported stress. However, this social buffering may not extend to a perceived presence, such as a higher deity. The current experiment examined whether prayer could reduce stress responses (blood pressure, heart rate, and self-reported anxiety levels) during a stressful situation and found that blood pressure and heart rate were not significantly related to treatment condition. However, a marginal association between condition and self-reported anxiety was found, suggesting that social buffering can be offered through prayer.
Schwartz, Amanda Cornell, "Social Buffering by God: Can Prayer Reduce Stress in an Experimental Setting?" (2007). Electronic Theses & Dissertations. 431.