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|Title:||A Prayer for Joy: Written Prayer, Expressive Writing and Depression in Ecuador|
|Abstract:||The current study aimed to examine whether written prayer, writing about a negative event in one’s life in the form of a prayer (Bennet & Elliott 2013), can causally reduce depression. It also compared the effectiveness of written prayer and expressive writing, a task in which a person writes about a distressing event in his or her life (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986), as interventions to reduce depression. Finally, it examined whether these interventions could reduce depression in a South American sample. In order to fulfill these objectives, university students in Ecuador were randomly assigned to complete one of three written exercises: written prayers, expressive writing, or a control written exercise about an unemotional topic. They completed these written exercises for twenty minutes once a week, during three weeks. Depression, positive affect and negative affect were measured shortly before the first written exercise was completed, and again a week after the last one. The change in participants’ scores for each of these measures was calculated. Participants who engaged in expressive writing and those who engaged in written prayer had greater decreases in depression over the course of the study than those in the control condition did. However, there were no significant differences in any of the measures across the three conditions. An exploratory analysis revealed that participants’ self-reported religiosity, and particularly their self-reported spirituality, was correlated with less severe depression at baseline. Implications are discussed.|
|Type of Material:||Princeton University Senior Theses|
|Appears in Collections:||Psychology, 1930-2020|
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