(RNS) Atheists, agnostics or otherwise nonreligious people can be just as content and well-adjusted as their religious counterparts, according to a new study.
“The common assumption of greater religiosity relating to greater happiness and satisfaction is overly simplistic,” said Luke Galen, an associate professor of psychology at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., and author of the new report.
The Non-Religious Identification Survey was launched online, with primarily U.S. responders, according to Galen. In exploring “irreligious” people, the study claims to have complicated the stereotype that they are less emotionally stable or happy with their lives than believers.
Most of nonreligious people are male, well-educated, often unmarried and living alone, according to the report.
The study suggests that those who are absolutely sure, one way or the other, about the existence of God are most likely to be satisfied with their lives and emotionally stable. It’s the spiritual seekers who tend to be unstable, according to the report.
“Confident nonbelievers such as atheists were more emotionally well-adjusted relative to tentative nonbelievers,” says Galen’s report.
Among the survey’s respondents, 57 percent called themselves “atheist,” 24 percent “humanist,” 10 percent “agnostic,” and 2 percent “spiritual.”
Significant numbers of younger respondents identified themselves as “atheists,” a term that Galen said was not previously popular.
“The label ‘atheist’ appears to be becoming more common among younger individuals,” Galen said.