You Should Really Lean Into Your Faith in Scientific Progress Right Now

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Photo: Martin Novak/Getty Images

If you feel for some reason like the world has been fundamentally destabilized over the past few days, a good place to look for solace is in your nearest scientist. Or, at least, the advance of science itself.

That’s according to the results of a survey of 1,500 Dutch people conducted by University of Cologne social scientists. The study, highlighted on Quartz last week, finds that people who believed more in scientific and technological process self-reported high rates of life satisfaction and personal control, even more than religion — independent, the researchers report, of demographic status or personality traits.

Using data from the World Values Survey, the researchers also found a “positive and significant” link between a trust in progress and life satisfaction in 69 of 72 countries, with a greater effect when both the individual and the culture valued scientific-technological progress in the same way.

The research team, led by Olga Stavrova, deduced that this has something to do with the sense of agency the scientific method grants. “Achieving control over the world and mastering the environment has always been one of the major goals of science,” she and her co-authors write. “Believing that science is or will prospectively grant such mastery of nature imbues individuals with the belief that they are in control of their lives.” Like in sports or parenting, holding a worldview in which you yourself feel in control of your life story makes life better.