Title

What Positive Psychologists and Mormons Can Learn From Each Other

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

2013

Abstract

Positive psychologists work to identify cultural practices from across the world that contribute to the good life (Peterson, 2006). Research frequently finds that religious engagement is positively correlated to well-being. The mechanisms by which religion influences well-being, however, are not fully understood and may vary widely by faith. This paper focuses on members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Latter-day Saints" or "Mormons") who report particularly high well-being—some of the highest well-being of any religious group in America (Newport, Witters, & Agrawal, 2012a). Through the lens of positive psychology, I explore how Latter-day Saint (LDS) practices and teachings may foster well-being. By analyzing similarities between well-being theories and LDS doctrine and behavior, I identify five possible mechanisms through which Mormonism might increase well-being, including fostering prosocial behavior, a focus on family, purpose and meaning, autonomy and agency, and physical health. I also identify areas in which Latter-day Saints struggle and how they might use well-being research to improve their level of flourishing. This investigation suggests that studying Latter-day Saints can (1) provide insight about the benefits and possible harm of certain well-being interventions in real-life application and (2) offer new practical well-being interventions that could be empirically tested. In sum, I propose that the study of Latter-day Saints could increase our understanding of how religion influences well-being and how well-being is cultivated.

Keywords

Mormon, Latter-day Saints, Well-being, Religion, Spirituality

Topic

Well-being/Flourishing, Other Topics

Format

Literature Review, Other Formats

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Date Posted: 08 July 2015