Term of Award

Spring 2007

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Janie H. Wilson

Committee Member 1

Lawrence Locker

Committee Member 2

Katherine E. Wiegand

Abstract

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.

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