On Friday, May 29th, Jan Fidrmuc from Brunel University presented his recent research paper titled “Happiness and Religion” coauthored with Çiğdem Börke Tunalı from Istanbul University to the ISET Community. This was not Mr. Fridrmuc’s first visit to ISET, he has already presented very interesting works about Friday the 13th superstition and persistence of social capital.
At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Fidrmuc explained the utility of religion and the ways religion may affect human happiness. He reflected on possible costs associated with religion. Authors use five ways of the European Social Survey in their study, covering 2000 to 2008, to analyze the effect of religion on happiness.
Their findings confirm that religious individuals are generally happier than non-religious ones. When disentangling the effects of belonging to an organized religion from the effect of holding religious beliefs, a study finds that the former lowers happiness while the latter raises it. It can mean that tangible aspects of religion (such as abiding by restrictions on consumption and behavior) decrease happiness while the spiritual aspects increase it. They also claim that there are important differences among members of different religious denominations, and between men and women, with females more adversely affected by the tangible aspects of belonging to a religion.
As expected, Mr. Fidrmuc’s research topic and presentation were very thought-provoking for ISET multi-ethnic and multi-religion community. Students were interested in possible differences between happiness derived from different religions, possible explanations, and empirical pieces of evidence. The presentation was extremely interactive, attending students raised many arguments about the research topic, its methods, and possible outcomes.
ISET would like to thank Mr. Fidrmuc for his visit and extremely interesting presentation.