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Study shows those who think analytically are less likely to be religious




"The Thinker" by French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

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Why are some people more religious than others? It may come down to whether they rely more heavily on an analytical or intuitive thinking process, at least according to a new study performed at the University of British Columbia and published in the journal “Science.”

Participants were first tested to ascertain which cognitive process they use more often, then given several surveys to measure the strength of their faith. For the second phase, researchers primed participants in the experimental group to think more analytically using methods that included playing a word game in which they had to arrange words like “think,” “reason,” and “analyze” into a sentence, while the control group receive neutral phrases. Test subjects who had their analytic thinking processes prompted consistently reported a lower belief score.


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What does the conclusion that analytic thinking prompts religious disbelief mean to you? Do you consider yourself an analytic thinker or an intuitive thinker? Do you see a correlation between this and your own religious beliefs?

Guests:

Will Gervaissocial psychologist; coauthor, “Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief” conducted at the University of British Columbia and published in the April issue of the journal “Science”

Michael Shermer, founding publisher, Skeptic magazine; executive director, Skeptics Society; author, "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies – How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths" (Henry Holt/Times Books/Macmillan)

Susan Russell, Episcopal priest; senior associate, All Saints Church in Pasadena