The present research explored how immersion in religious spaces influenced self-perceived psychological and physical health among Christians and Atheists. Study 1 (N = 97) provided preliminary evidence in that self-identified Christians reported higher self-esteem when they focused on their external environment outside a cathedral (versus a castle or shopping district), whereas Atheists reported higher self-esteem when they focused away from this religious environment. Study 2 (N = 124) followed up on these findings by immersing Christian and Atheist participants in virtual environments. Christians reported better physical health when immersed in a cathedral (versus a mosque or museum) compared to Atheists immersed in the cathedral, who reported the greatest health while disengaging from this religious place. These results suggest that immersion in spaces that reflect one's own religious beliefs and identity has positive consequences for health and well-being.

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Keywords Health, Identity, Place, Religion, Well-being
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Journal Journal of Environmental Psychology
Ysseldyk, R, Haslam, S.A. (S. Alexander), & Morton, T.A. (Thomas A.). (2016). Stairway to heaven? (Ir)religious identity moderates the effects of immersion in religious spaces on self-esteem and self-perceived physical health. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 47, 14–21. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.04.016