What’s behind your everyday actions? While it’s unclear how this finding figures into health behaviors, new research suggests that the idea of God can influence motivation. Believing in a higher power—whether or not you call yourself religious—may help you avoid temptation, according to research just published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, one of the APA’s publications. Yet the same belief may also discourage you from realizing personal goals. Psychologists say that the belief in an omniscient power may help prevent us from misbehaving. Still, a fatalistic view may hold us back from pursuing personal goals. The researchers write, “reminders of God can (a) hinder self-regulation, by reducing people’s active engagement in goal pursuit, but also (b) facilitate self-regulation, by increasing people’s temptation resistance.”
Especially interesting: the study looked at the non-religiously devout, so the results suggest that whether or not you call yourself religious, something is likely influencing your actions. The authors conclude, “From popular and classic works of fiction, to the news media, to everyday conversation, the social world is replete with mentions of God. The current findings suggest that this exposure may have broad societal consequences for fundamental psychological processes of self-regulation, which in turn underlie much of health, happiness, and human productivity.”
Pre-hab for cancer?
In the blogosphere, Joseph Nowinski, PhD calls for a rethinking of palliative care, a term used to describe care for symptoms and stress related to serious illness. The Huff Po blogger has argued that we’d be better off if cancer survivors were offered CAM therapies such as yoga and acupuncture along with rehab as part of comprehensive care, because many can relieve stress and pain. Here, he goes even further and suggests that regular stress reduction may help reduce the risk of developing cancer in the first place. Amen to that.