Healing Those Who Need Healing

How Religious Practice Interacts with Personality to Affect Social Belonging


  • Chris G. Sibley University of Auckland
  • Joseph Bulbulia Victoria University




cognition, neuroticism, non-linearity personality, practice, religion, social cognition


Religion affects social cognition but does personality matter? We extracted information about church attendance and personality from a representative national survey (n= 1,483 New Zealand Christians). We found that frequency of church attendance affects felt belongingness but this relationship depends on levels of neuroticism. Christians who scored low in neuroticism experienced similar levels of felt belongingness, regardless of church attendance. Christians who scored high in neuroticism experienced the greatest social belonging, through frequent religious practice. Modelling these interactions revealed that those high in neuroticism would need to attend church 17.15 times each month to experience the felt belongingness of those low in neuroticism who did not attend church. Rates of religious attendance affect social cognition, but not for all Christians equally. Neuroticism matters. Those who wish to promote religion for social belonging would be wise to consider personality differences.


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How to Cite

Sibley, C. G., & Bulbulia, J. (2012). Healing Those Who Need Healing: How Religious Practice Interacts with Personality to Affect Social Belonging. Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion, 1(1), 29–45. https://doi.org/10.1558/jcsr.v1i1.29