This study of the restorative benefits of visiting a house of worship was based on questionnaire responses by 781 participants. Factor analysis of motivations for visiting yielded five factors, three of which matched those from a previous study (spirituality, beauty, and being away) and two new ones (contemplation and obligation). Factor analysis of activities at a house of worship yielded four factors along a gradient corresponding roughly to degree of organized religious practice: rituals, traditional activities, asking, and nonreligious activities. Spirituality and asking (for help or forgiveness) were the strongest predictors of positive outcomes, whereas nonreligious activities predicted negative outcomes. The results support and extend Attention Restoration Theory. They indicate that a house of worship can provide a compatible setting for satisfying a spirituality motive and for the cognitive activity of asking which can aid in conserving and restoring directed attention as well as fostering meditation and reflection.
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