Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


Insights into age-old questions about faith


Friday 7 December, 2012


Christchurch earthquake: insights into age-old questions about faith

Social research that, by chance, was underway in New Zealand at the time of the devastating 2011 Christchurch earthquake is providing insight into age-old questions about the role of religious faith in a crisis.

The research provides the first nation-wide evidence that people are drawn to religion at a time of natural crisis.

The results come from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS), led by Dr Chris Sibley from The University of Auckland. The study aims to track changes in New Zealand society for up to twenty years.

The latest findings were published in PLOS ONE by Dr Sibley and Dr Joseph Bulbulia from Victoria University of Wellington.

The researchers surveyed around 4,000 people in 2009 and again in 2011, after the earthquake. Participants were asked if they identified with a religion or spiritual group, and of those who did, most were Christian but a wide range of faiths was represented.

“Across New Zealand, levels of religious affiliation have been declining for fifty years, but after the Christchurch earthquake we found a marked shift in the opposite direction,” says Dr Bulbulia.

“People were more likely to convert to a religious group if they lived in Canterbury than elsewhere in the country,” says Dr Sibley. There was a 3.4 per cent increase in religious faith in the region, compared with an annual decline of around 0.9 per cent each in the rest of the country.

Participants were also asked to rate their satisfaction with their overall level of health. “This meant we could look at changes in people’s perception of their health over time, and whether that coincided with any change in religious affiliation,” says Dr Sibley.

Levels of wellbeing were comparable in participants who were religious or nonreligious throughout the two year period or who converted to religion during this time. And, surprisingly, the level did not change significantly in any of these groups even if they were personally affected by the earthquake.

“A lot of scholars have argued that religion provides a supportive buffer that helps people to cope better in time of difficulty,” says Dr Sibley. “But we see a more interesting pattern: the consistent levels of wellbeing we observed in religious and nonreligious groups, and converts, suggest that people are finding support both within and outside of churches.”

“We do see a dramatic drop in health ratings for one group of New Zealanders affected by the earthquake, and these are the people who lost their faith between 2009 and 2011.”

“This is very important,” says Dr Bulbulia. “The size of our sample, and its unique ability to track faith and wellbeing before and after the earthquakes, gives us confidence that those who lost their faith in Christchurch after the earthquakes experienced markedly lower wellbeing.”

Dr Bulbulia says people are getting help from organisations outside of churches, such as the Red Cross, from schools, and from government agencies.

“These organisations are collaborating with each other, and with churches, in ways that no one could have anticipated before the tragedy. We still have much to learn about the communities of support that have grown, and continue to grow, in Christchurch.”

The researchers say that the results demonstrate the value of longitudinal studies, which can capture major events and answer questions that cannot be tested in any other way.

“The study is getting into its fourth year of data collection, and it’s really starting to get exciting,” says Dr Sibley. “We are very grateful to everyone who has taken part in the study and we hope that they will continue to do so. This is really important if we want to be able to track change in our society, and how people are doing, over time.”

The research paper is available at: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0049648

A video presenting the findings from the study can be found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9nIXAhtwHI

More information about the NZVAS can be found at: www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/new-zealand-attitudes-and-values-study

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Album Review: Donnie Trumpet And The Social Experiments: Surf

Chance the Rapper is one of my favourite rappers of the last couple years. He bought a uniquely fucked up, acid sound with his debut Acid Rap which has demonstrably influenced others including ILoveMakonnen and A$AP Rocky. It’s remarkable that, at such a ... More>>

Photos: Inside The Christchurch Arts Centre Rebuild

Lady Pippa Blake visited Christchurch Arts Centre chief executive André Lovatt, a 2015 recipient of the Blake Leader Awards. The award celebrated Lovatt’s leadership in New Zealand and hisand dedication to the restoration of the Arts Centre. More>>

Running Them Up The Flagpole: Web Tool Lets Public Determine New Zealand Flag

A School of Design master’s student is challenging the flag selection process by devising a web tool that allows the public to feed their views back in a way, he says, the current government process does not. More>>

ALSO:

Survey: ‘The Arts Make My Life Better’: New Zealanders

New Zealanders are creative people who believe being involved in the arts makes their lives better and their communities stronger. Nine out of ten adult New Zealanders (88%) agree the arts are good for them and eight out of ten (82%) agree that the arts help to improve New Zealand society. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Reprieve For Te Papa Press

Following its review of the role of Te Papa Press, Te Papa has committed to continue publishing books during the museum’s redevelopment, Chief Executive Rick Ellis announced yesterday. More>>

Law Society: Sir Peter Williams QC, 1934 - 2015

“Sir Peter was an exceptional advocate. He had the ability to put the defence case for his clients with powerful oratory. His passion shone through in everything he did and said.” Mr Moore says Sir Peter’s lifelong commitment to prison reform was instrumental in ensuring prison conditions and the rights of prisoners were brought to public attention. More>>

ALSO:

CTU: Peter Conway – Family Statement

Peter committed his whole working life to improving the lives of working people, both in unions and, more recently, as the Economist and Secretary of the Council of Trade Unions. He was previously Chair of Oxfam New Zealand and was on the Board of NZ Trade and Enterprise. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Culture
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news