Because of their high religiosity, LDS women are an excellent population group to study the effects of religiosity. Very little published research regarding this segment of the general population exists. This study examines the religiosity of LDS women by comparing two national samples of LDS women to a sample of non-LDS women taken from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), in order to determine differences in their life satisfaction and mental well-being. This study also compares two subgroups of LDS women, measuring if increased levels of adherence to the same religious beliefs has an effect on satisfaction and mental well-being. Comparisons between the LDS groups and the NSFH women showed (l)depression levels among both groups of LDS women were significantly lower than the NSFH sample, (2)general life satisfaction was similar for all groups, and (3 )self-esteem was lower in the LDS women than in the NSFH women. Structural equation modeling showed that for a group of LDS women who have not served missions (NM-LDS), experiential religiosity plays an important role in predicting life satisfaction and self-esteem. For LDS women who have served as missionaries (RM-LDS), experiential religiosity plays an important role in predicting higher self-esteem, lower depression, and higher life/marital/ parenting satisfaction. Conclusions are that personally experiencing religion rather than only participating socially in religious groups seems to be an important factor in influencing satisfaction and mental well-being in LDS women"and therefore is an important point to address when counseling them.
Portions of this study were presented at the AMCAP Convention, April 1, 2004.