A few things about this study. It doesn’t mean that religious people are uneducated or unintelligent. It doesn’t mean that atheists are right and believers are wrong. I think it’s important to note that the main author of this study Will Gervais is in fact himself an atheist…which also doesn’t mean that his findings are incorrect, but it is I think it’s also a relevant note.
This study essentially breaks down how people think into two types of cognitive systems – analytical and intuitive. The findings show the more analytical a person is…the less they believe in religious belief whereas religious belief tends to form essentially from our “gut”. I do find it interesting that the researcher refers to intuitive thinking as “mental shortcuts”.
Science Daily has the details:
The findings, Gervais says, are based on a longstanding human psychology model of two distinct, but related cognitive systems to process information: an “intuitive” system that relies on mental shortcuts to yield fast and efficient responses, and a more “analytic” system that yields more deliberate, reasoned responses.
“Our study builds on previous research that links religious beliefs to ‘intuitive’ thinking,” says study co-author and Associate Prof. Ara Norenzayan, UBC Dept. of Psychology. “Our findings suggest that activating the ‘analytic’ cognitive system in the brain can undermine the ‘intuitive’ support for religious belief, at least temporarily.”
The study involved more than 650 participants in the U.S. and Canada. Gervais says future studies will explore whether the increase in religious disbelief is temporary or long-lasting, and how the findings apply to non-Western cultures.
Like us on Facebook?