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

 
Scoop Review Of Books: Q&A: Prue Hyman On ‘Hopes Dashed?’

For Scoop Review of Books, Alison McCulloch interviewed Prue Hyman about her new book, part of the BWB Texts series, Hopes Dashed? The Economics of Gender Inequality More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Chuck Berry (And James Comey, And Bill English)

Back when many people were still treating rock’n’roll as a passing fad – was calypso going to be the new thing? – Chuck Berry knew that it had changed popular music forever. What is even more astonishing is that this 30-ish black r&b musician from a middle class family in St Louis could manage to recreate the world of white teenagers, at a time when the very notion of a “teenager” had just been invented. More>>

Howard Davis Review:
The Baroque Fusion Of L'arpeggiata

Named after a toccata by German composer Girolamo Kapsberger, L'Arpeggiata produces its unmistakable sonority mainly from the resonance of plucked strings, creating a tightly-woven acoustic texture that is both idiosyncratic and immediately identifiable. Director Christina Pluhar engenders this distinctive tonality associated with the ensemble she founded in 2000 by inviting musicians and vocalists from around the world to collaborate on specific projects illuminated by her musicological research. More>>

African Masks And Sculpture: Attic Discovery On Display At Expressions Whirinaki

Ranging from masks studded with nails and shards of glass to statues laden with magical metal, the works are from ethnic groups in nine countries ranging from Ivory Coast to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More>>

Obituary: Andrew Little Remembers Murray Ball

“Murray mined a rich vein of New Zealand popular culture and exported it to the world. Wal and Dog and all the other Kiwi characters he crafted through Footrot Flats were hugely popular here and in Australia, Europe and North America." More>>

ALSO:

Organised Choas: NZ Fringe Festival 2017 Awards

Three more weeks of organised chaos have come to an end with the Wellington NZ Fringe Arts Festival Awards Ceremony as a chance to celebrate all our Fringe artists for their talent, ingenuity, and chutzpah! More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Wellington Writer Wins $US165,000 Literature Prize

Victoria University of Wellington staff member and alumna Ashleigh Young has won a prestigious Windham-Campbell Literature Prize worth USD$165,000 for her book of essays Can You Tolerate This? More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: We’re All Lab Rats

A couple of years ago, there were reports that Silicon Valley executives were sending their children to tech-free schools. It was a story that dripped of irony: geeks in the heart of techno-utopia rejecting their ideology when it came to their own kids. But the story didn’t catch on, and an awkward question lingered. Why were the engineers of the future desperate to part their gadgets from their children? More>>

  • CensusAtSchool - Most kids have no screen-time limits
  • Netsafe - Half of NZ high school students unsupervised online
  • Get More From Scoop

     
     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
    Culture
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news