Prinzing, M., Van Cappellen, P., & Fredrickson B.L. (2022). More than a momentary blip in the universe? Investigating the link between religiousness and perceived meaning in life. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672211060136
One longitudinal and four cross-sectional studies (total N = 3,141) tested two candidate explanations for the association between religiousness and perceived meaning in life. Religiousness may foster a sense of significance, importance, or mattering—either to others (social mattering) or in the grand scheme of the universe (cosmic mattering)—which in turn support perceived meaning.
We found that perceived social mattering mediated, but could not fully explain, the link between religiousness and perceived meaning. In contrast, perceived cosmic mattering did fully explain the association.
Overall, results suggest that perceived social and cosmic mattering are each part of the explanation. Yet, perceived cosmic mattering appears to be the stronger mechanism. We discuss how religious faith may be especially suited to support such perceptions, making it a partially unique source of felt meaning.