Believers in hell—or just those who think about it—may find themselves less satisfied with life on Earth, a new study suggests. In the study published in PLOS One, researchers in British Columbia investigated data from 63 countries, both on a national scale and an individual one. They compared those who believe only in heaven with those who believe only in hell. The more a country's population leaned toward the former, the happier that country was, LiveScience reports, and individuals who believed in heaven said they were more satisfied with life.
The data, however, left open the possibility that people who are already unhappy tend to believe in hell, instead of the other way around. So researchers asked 422 people to write about heaven, hell, or what they did the previous day. Afterward, they were surveyed about their emotions. There wasn't much difference between the reported emotions of those who wrote about heaven and those who described their daily activities. But people who wrote about hell—whether they believed in it or not—reported more sadness. It may be that writing about hell simply makes people less happy; it's also possible that nonbelievers feared they could be wrong, a researcher suggests.