Study Finds Link Between Forgiveness, Belief in Higher Power

A recent study by the Australian Psychological Society found that those who believe in God are happier and more forgiving of others.

Most notably, the study revealed that those who believe in God were less likely to hold long-term grudges than those who do not.

"The results showed that it doesn't matter what you believe in, but if you believe in something, have faith in something, it means you're more likely to forgive," said researcher Adam Fox in a statement.

The nearly-500 person study interviewed Australians associated with Christianity, Islam, Judaism, new-age religions, and no beliefs at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

Respondents representing the traditional religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism were found most likely to forgive others of wrong doing. More notable, however, were the general responses of those who believe in a higher power.

All respondents who professed their belief in a higher power said they were more likely to forgive and forget, while those who don't believe in God were most likely to hold a grudge, the study revealed.

"That indicates that there's something in the system of thought connected to spirituality that helps people to accept others and their actions," Fox said.

Though the study did not release separate results for Christians, Muslims, and Jews because of what the research team cited as "ethical considerations," researchers pointed out that there were only "slight differences."

Fox spoke encouragingly of the results, citing the importance of faith on behavior.

"We are all aware that religion causes conflict, but it is heartening to see that it also has the ability to reduce conflict and animosity too," said Fox, addressing the controversies that religion is often blamed for.

The recent results also confirmed what many other previous studies have revealed – people who believe in God are happier, live longer, and less likely to suffer from depression.

A 2006 study by the Pew Research Center revealed that those who "attend religious services weekly or more" were nearly twice as happy as those who "attend seldom or never."