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It has recently been shown that interpersonal distrust predicts depressive symptoms in middle adolescence, and this finding has been interpreted in light of Social Safety Theory, which views distrust as an index of social threat. Here we hypothesize that religiousness provides social safety and may counteract the sense of social threat indexed by distrust. Religiousness should therefore act as a moderator between interpersonal distrust and depression. Using a nationally representative birth cohort from the UK, we provide evidence in favor of this hypothesis, even after controlling for stratum disadvantage and socioeconomic characteristics, sex, ethnicity, and multiple confounders on the level of the individual (BMI, chronic illness, cognitive ability, risk-taking, experiencing bullying, dietary habits, chronotype, physical activity and screen time), family context (frequency of eating meals together, maternal mental health), and neighborhood ecology (NO2 levels of air pollution).

Original publication




Journal article


Religion, Brain and Behavior

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