Lynn, Chrisopher Dana, Jason Paris, Cheryl Anne Frye, and Lawrence Schell (2011) “Glossolalia is associated with differences in biomarkers of stress and arousal among Apostolic Pentecostals.” Religion, Brain & Behavior, pagination and volume not available [electronic prepublication release].
Abstract: The influence of glossolalia or ‘‘speaking in tongues’’ on biological stress and arousal is examined in a sample of Apostolic Pentecostals. Glossolalia is a form of dissociation considered by Pentecostals as possession by the Holy Spirit. Dissociation is a psychological term for partitioning of awareness and widely held to moderate stress, yet this has been difficult to affirm in culturally embedded situations. We sought to determine if glossolalic dissociation is associated with biomarkers of stress and arousal (salivary cortisol and alpha- amylase, respectively) on a religious service and a non-service day among 52 participants. We used mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to group participants as high- and low-glossolalists for preliminary comparisons and by status within their respective churches for regression analyses. Results indicate a significant influence of two glossolalia indicators on cortisol and alpha-amylase on both days, in addition to a statistically significant though not robust interaction effect between lifetime glossolalia experience and church status on the non-service day. Combined, these data suggest glossolalia experience is associated with increased physiological stress during worship and reduced stress and arousal beyond the worship context.