So if religious belief makes people more satisfied with their lives, why is secularism growing in many countries? A new study offers one possible answer: A belief in scientific and technological progress can also serve as a source of life satisfaction. Indeed, it may even offer more lifetime happiness than religion does.
The study appeared in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, and the research team that conducted it was led by Olga Stavrova, a psychologist at the University of Cologne. The researchers first did a deep analysis of how the belief in scientific and technological progress affects the life satisfaction of a representative sample of nearly 1,500 Dutch citizens. They then compared life satisfaction measures with belief in sci-tech progress across 72 countries. In both cases, they found “a strong belief in scientific–technological progress was associated with an enhanced sense of personal control, which in turn contributed to higher life satisfaction.”
The Dutch survey asked people a battery of questions about their values, religiosity, personality traits, beliefs about progress, sense of personal control, and life satisfaction. The researchers measured the respondents’ beliefs in scientific-technological progress, for example, by asking them to rate how much they agreed with such statements as “Science and technology are making our lives healthier, easier, and more comfortable” and “Because of science and technology, there will be more opportunities for the next generation.”