Religious people are happier, but more anxious, according to new figures released by United Kingdom-based Office for National Statistics in its annual "well-being" research program that measures the emotional contentment of British people. The survey asks citizens to rate their lives on a scale of 0 to 10.
Now in its fifth year, the survey indicates an average Briton scores 7.53 out of 10 for life satisfaction and 7.38 for happiness. Britons who say they have a faith typically score above average on happiness ratings. Christians score the highest at 7.47, with Jewish people at 7.37 and Muslims at 7.33. Those with no religion record their happiness as a slightly below average, 7.22 out of 10, according to the survey.
Although Britons with no faith reported lower levels of happiness, life-satisfaction and self-worth in the survey than those who do, they also have lower levels of anxiety than religious people.
When it comes to having a sense that their life was "worthwhile," Jewish people came top, just above Christians.
On the "life-satisfaction" question, Christians and Hindus tied at the top. Interestingly, Buddhists come slightly lower in "life-satisfaction" than those with no faith.
Regarding anxiety levels, the scores reversed with nonbelievers rating their anxiety lower than religious proponents. Research director Nick Spencer said the figures showed there was a "positive correlation" between religion and contentment.
"You have to recognize that this has nothing to say about the truth of every religious belief just its effect," he told the Telegraph.
"It matches a trend in evolutionary thinking over the last 10 to 15 years which says that religion, having been seen in the 20th Century as a [stage] of progress, is an instinctive aspect of human nature with survival benefits to it."
An expert on sociology of religion at Lancaster University, Linda Woodhead, said she was surprised that having no religion appears to make one less anxious.
"Perhaps the most surprising thing is while Buddhism is about coming to terms with suffering and impermanence, Buddhists are actually more anxious and less content. That might, however, be because in this country there are so many white converts to Buddhism."