Christians might say it's something they already know, but three studies from the University of Michigan (U-M) now confirms that a relationship with God helps lonely people.
Todd Chan is a doctoral student in the U-M's Department of Psychology and lead the study that looked at nearly 20,000 people.
The psychologists wanted to look at how people who lack human relationships cope with loneliness, and how they differ from people who have strong relationships with others.
"The individual who feels more connected to God will have a better sense of purpose in life"
“For the socially disconnected, God may serve as a substitutive relationship that compensates for some of the purpose that human relationships would normally provide,” Chan said in a release on the study from the U-M.
The research shows that seeing God as your friend when you are already socially connected actually provides minimal additional benefit for purpose in life, the release said.
The researchers took the results of three separate studies that surveyed 19,775. Those studies had respondents describe their purpose in life, levels of loneliness, the quality of their friendships and religious beliefs.
“Our research suggests, given two people who feel equally disconnected, the individual who feels more connected to God will have a better sense of purpose in life,” said co-author Nicholas Michalak, a psychology graduate student.
Researchers pointed out that "the findings do not suggest that people who are socially disconnected are more likely to become religious if they were not already."