Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Psychology (PSYC)

First Advisor

Richard Gilbert, Ph.D.


The main purpose of this study is to measure emotional experiences and responses of participants following a religious service event versus a secular community meeting. There has been little research done on the actual emotional experience of an individual religious service. If religion actually does account for emotional variation as previous research has indicated, then it follows that there will be a difference in emotional response between those who attended a religious event versus those who attended a secular community meeting. The current study examines a Catholic mass on a Jesuit undergraduate campus as the religious service and fraternity, sorority, and service club meetings as the secular events. In this study, we chose to compare religious services with secular community meetings since both of them may provide feelings of belongingness which may result in greater positive emotions. By controlling for belongingness, we can determine if the spiritual nature of religious services account for the variation of emotion. We found that spirituality, religiosity, and religious attendance are all positively correlated with each other and with positive affect. After controlling for spirituality, religiosity, and religious attendance, attending Catholic mass versus secular meeting accounts for the differences in the reduction of negative affect. This suggests that religion, particularly religious services, has a psychological benefit in reducing distress in participants. Further implications and future studies regarding these findings are further discussed.