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New ‘human flourishing’ survey links frequent religious practice to life satisfaction | Religion News Service

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev via Pexels.

[T]he idea of creating a longitudinal study — one that follows people over time — came after a conference on human flourishing at Harvard in November 2018.

What do human beings need—not just to exist, but to thrive? To date, the new Global Flourishing Study (GFS) released is the most comprehensive effort to answer this question. This study was led by Gallup and assembled a consortium of a researchers from Harvard’s Human Flourishing Program, Baylor University’s Institute for the Study of Religion, and the Center for Open Science.

Over the course of five years, this 50-member team conducted a longitudinal study surveying 200,000 individuals across twenty-two countries to determine the major components of human flourishing. Among the key findings of the study was that respondents who reported that religion was an important component of their lives and respondents who attended religious services regularly scored highly on the human flourishing index.

Overall, the study gathered data on six domains of human wellbeing:

  • happiness and life satisfaction
  • physical and mental health
  • meaning and purpose
  • character and virtue
  • close social relationships
  • financial and material stability

The GFS researchers are now gathering additional data that will add clarity to the findings of the initial survey.

Now that the first results have been published, the team of 50 researchers deployed by the four institutions to work on the study is conducting separate analyses to study the level of flourishing within each religious group and compare religions together. These further analyses might give them clues on which religious groups tend to have higher flourishing scores.

The final results of the initiative will become publicly available in 2025.