+ ++ Reminders of Death and Religious Belief | Latina Lista
BlogBeat

Reminders of Death and Religious Belief

Reminders of Death and Religious Belief

By Tom Rees
This View of Life

There’s quite a lot of research showing that subtly reminding people of death can make them more religious. But what’s not clear is why that should be—and in particular, whether nonreligious people also become more religious.

[caption id="attachment_16985" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="PHILIPPE DE CHAMPAIGNE (1602–1674) Still-Life with a Skull, vanitas painting."][/caption]

Jonathan Jong, a new doctoral graduate from the University of Otago in New Zealand, has conducted a series of fascinating studies to investigate just this. You can find his thesis here. There’s a lot in it, but here’s two key studies that will make you think.

In the first study, Jong asked students to write either about what they thought would happen to them when they die (the death condition) or about watching TV (the control condition). Then he asked them a series of questions about religious beliefs (with a Christian slant)—the Spiritual Belief Scale.

You can see in the figure below that religious people have, as you would expect, high levels of belief in the supernatural—and this increases still further in the “death” condition versus the TV condition.

Nonreligious people had lower beliefs to start with, and they got lower still after death reminders. They become stronger in their rejection of religious beliefs.

OK, so far so good. But this is just what people are saying—and what people say and what they think instinctively are not necessarily the same.

Then Jong ran a version of the Implicit Association Test. This is basically a computerised quiz in which you have to classify words into different groups. Some classifications go against your instinctive beliefs—and these classifications will make you stumble a little, and so take you a little bit longer.

So, in this case, the subjects had to classify supernatural (angel, devil, God, heaven, soul, etc.), real (eagle, helicopter), and imaginary (Batmobile, fairy, genie, mermaid, Narnia) entities as either real or imaginary. For the nonreligious, being asked to classify supernatural and real objects together as real, and distinct from imaginary objects, is tough to do. It goes against their instincts, and so they took significantly longer to do it.

Read more on Science & Religion Today

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

BlogBeat

More in BlogBeat

2_461_12928a81-6ed5-4e3c-be23-8dfe50af78e3

More Mexicans are leaving the US than coming across the border

Latina ListaJanuary 5, 2016
2_454_03bc190f-3ad8-4aec-8e45-f6d77114e7ad

Black, Latino Boys in Boston Want Better Schools

Latina ListaDecember 21, 2015
2_450_3c520db6-5dc2-4698-bd58-df175083955a

Maps track spread of U.S. social movements

Latina ListaDecember 17, 2015
2_446_4f6e28c8-08c7-4bff-a70e-497c0aca2963

The Woman Who Made Sure We Remembered The Alamo

Latina ListaDecember 16, 2015
2_440_2f5403e1-c75f-4690-b300-d0a2045cb28b

Sports history shows why playing ball with Cuba makes sense

Latina ListaDecember 15, 2015
2_435_44064724-1dc6-428e-88af-d1bd1c395b8c

Helping Latina children’s book author nationally shine with the #DRUMITUP campaign

Latina ListaDecember 10, 2015
2_430_76f4e942-2f50-4ca1-9aa1-4f2999224188

Do custom news feeds give us rigid views?

Latina ListaDecember 9, 2015
2_426_c0fc302c-7074-4bca-bbc2-c56bcbd9c171

Research: Latino Families Have Worse Access to Healthy Food

Latina ListaDecember 8, 2015
2_420_e9e0bd4d-b4d9-42bf-9e81-ef5b65957c7c

FAFSA Application: Everything You Need to Know in 2016

Latina ListaDecember 7, 2015