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Mon Jan 7, 2013, 06:28 PM

Psychological Common Ground Could Ease Tensions Among Those With Different Religious Beliefs

Jan. 7, 2013 — Understanding how thoughts of mortality influence individuals' beliefs sheds light on the commonalities among different groups' motivations and could help ease tensions between opposing viewpoints, according to University of Missouri experiments that tested the relationship between awareness of death and belief in a higher power. The study found that thoughts of death increased atheists, Christians, Muslims and agnostics conviction in their own world views. For example, contrary to the wartime aphorism that there are no atheists in foxholes, thoughts of death did not cause atheists to express belief in a deity.

"Our study suggests that atheists' and religious believers' world views have the same practical goal," said Kenneth Vail, lead author and doctoral student in psychological science in MU's College of Arts and Science. "Both groups seek a coherent world view to manage the fear of death and link themselves to a greater and immortal entity, such as a supreme being, scientific progress or a nation. If people were more aware of this psychological similarity, perhaps there might be more understanding and less conflict among groups with different beliefs."

His research suggests that morbid imagery, such as news headlines or caricatures of enemies in war propaganda, can reinforce nationalistic and/or religious ideals by keeping death on the mind and subconsciously encouraging denial of opposing ideologies. This research suggests that religious symbols and stories involving death, such as the crucifix, function psychologically to remind the faithful of mortality and subconsciously reinforce one particular world view to the exclusion of others.

For the study, Vail and his colleagues conducted a series of three experiments by first encouraging thoughts of death in study participants and analyzing their responses to a questionnaire. The first experiment examined Christians and atheists in the United States. The results suggested awareness of death in Christians increased their belief in God and denial of other traditions. Atheists also continued to adhere to their world views, although no increase in denial of other philosophies was observable because atheists by definition started with no belief in any religious traditions.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107121051.htm

Abstract below. You need to buy access to the article.

Exploring the Existential Function of Religion and Supernatural Agent Beliefs Among Christians, Muslims, Atheists, and Agnostics

Kenneth E. Vail III1
Jamie Arndt1
Abdolhossein Abdollahi2,3

1University of Missouri–Columbia, USA
2University of Limerick, Ireland
3Islamic Azad University–Zarand Branch, Kerman, Iran

Kenneth E. Vail III, Department of Psychological Sciences, McAlester Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA Email: vail.kenneth@gmail.com

Abstract

Building on research suggesting one primary function of religion is the management of death awareness, the present research explored how supernatural beliefs are influenced by the awareness of death, for whom, and how individuals’ extant beliefs determine which god(s), if any, are eligible to fulfill that function. In Study 1, death reminders had no effect among Atheists, but enhanced Christians’ religiosity, belief in a higher power, and belief in God/Jesus and enhanced denial of Allah and Buddha. Similarly, death reminders increased Muslims’ religiosity and belief in a higher power, and led to greater belief in Allah and denial of God/Jesus and Buddha (Study 2). Finally, in Study 3, death reminders motivated Agnostics to increase their religiosity, belief in a higher power, and their faith in God/Jesus, Buddha, and Allah. The studies tested three potential theoretical explanations and were consistent with terror management theory’s worldview defense hypothesis. Theoretical implications are discussed.


http://psp.sagepub.com/content/38/10/1288.abstract

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Reply Psychological Common Ground Could Ease Tensions Among Those With Different Religious Beliefs (Original post)
rug Jan 2013 OP
Kelvin Mace Jan 2013 #1
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #2
Kelvin Mace Jan 2013 #3
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #6
humblebum Jan 2013 #9
humblebum Jan 2013 #4
Kelvin Mace Jan 2013 #5
humblebum Jan 2013 #7
tama Jan 2013 #8

Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 06:40 PM

1. For what it is worth

my personal theory:

If you could convince people to the point of certainty that there was no after life, that this is all you get, that injustices not resolved in this life are NEVER resolved, you would see a earth-shaking drop in violence, wars, etc.

Once everyone knows this is all you get, no sane person is in a hurry to wrap up there only instance of consciousness.

Suddenly, people stop being keen on wars, crime, drugs, alcohol, etc, and become absolutely fixated on how to prolong life, cure disease, end war, and religious/political strife.

As long as people believe that there is some "Supreme Being" who will "make everything right", punish the wicked, reward the faithful, etc, people are comfortable ignoring injustice, world problems, avoiding war and being fair.

This ignorant philosophy is spelled out in the oft-quoted soldier's "solution" to dealing with the enemy:

"Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 06:54 PM

2. My personal theory

 

If you could convince people to the point of certainty that there was such a thing as reincarnation, that anything you do in this life you will eventually be rewarded or punished in a future life, that everyone you know once was, or eventually will be your brother, sister, mother, father, son, or daughter in a past or future life, you would see a earth-shaking drop in violence, wars, etc.

Once everyone knows that karma is a bitch, no sane person is in a hurry to incur more karmic debts.

Suddenly, people stop being keen on wars, crime, drugs, alcohol, etc, and become absolutely fixated on how to be kind to one another, cure disease, end war, and religious/political strife.

As long as people believe that there is a way to get away with murder, greed, and depravity, etc, by leaving it all behind when you die, people are comfortable ignoring injustice, world problems, avoiding war and being fair.

And as a bonus, people would give a damn about the future of global climate because they'd know for a certainty that they, themselves would be coming back to this earth either to enjoy the results of their stewardship, or to pay the price for their careless disregard for the environment. Karma's a bitch.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 07:06 PM

3. Justice delayed is justice denied

My Karmic "future self" won't remember me, or understand why he is miserable/happy. Karma only works if you could truly remember what you did in a past life, and that those actions influence what is happening to you now. Karma is wishful thinking by the downtrodden, and the powerful are happy to foster that belief as it deters the downtrodden from doing annoying things like cutting their throats.

To me, "Karma" is just another molifier to allow people to put off doing what is right. You don't have to do the hard work if you know that your "enemies" will suffer in the next life and you will be rewarded.

Any deity or supreme force that can't solve problems NOW, is not powerful at all.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 09:30 PM

6. I like it, you don't. 'nuff said. Fact is, nobody knows. nt

 

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 07:24 PM

4. You do seem pretty comfortable in your certainty, but it would be interesting to see how

 

you KNOW this is all you get.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #4)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 09:25 PM

5. I postulated my theory

It is what i believe as all other beliefs (deities) pretty much make no logical sense.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 10:09 PM

7. To some they do seem quite logical, but you are entitled to your beliefs

 

and have a right to them.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 02:39 AM

8. If (Kelvin Mace and Speck Tater)

 

Both theories have their value, but what is common to both of them is "if" and to project something into future.

What can happen now is acceptance. Acceptance of "as is" of the wholeness of being, which includes also various wishes and complaints about the state of now.

Now, being in the state of acceptance, or some level of it, I can testify that this feels different, more relaxed, better than the memory of previous state.

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