Daily Israel Report

Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Go to Synagogue

Women who attend synagogue regularly are more optimistic than others, according to a Yeshiva University research report.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 11/12/2011, 8:17 PM

Women who attend synagogue regularly are more optimistic than others, according to a Yeshiva University research report to be published this week in the Journal of Religion and Health.

The same conclusions apply to non-Jews who attend church.

A more optimistic view of life was expressed by 56 percent of those regularly attended prayer service.

“There is a correlation, but that does not mean there is causality,” said Eliezer Schnall, the clinical associate professor of psychology at Yeshiva University who led the study. “One could argue people who are more optimistic may be drawn to religious services.”

"The person who says, 'I guess if I go to services, that will make me more optimistic' -- while a possibility, that may not be true," he said.

He also advised that the conclusions may not apply to men and younger women.

The study covered more than 92,000 postmenopausal women. A study in 2008 by Schnall shown that religious people generally are healthier and less susceptible to stress than those who are not religious.

"We're trying to connect the dots here," he said. "We know they're less likely to die, and health outcomes can be related to psychological factors."

Religious practice in general can encourage a "positive worldview, include calming rituals, and have other psychological and social benefits," according to the new research report.