Navigation Links
Psychological common ground could ease tensions among those with different religious beliefs
Date:1/7/2013

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.

The second experiment, conducted in Iran, found that Muslims reacted similarly to Christians when they were thinking about their own mortality. A third trial observed agnostics and found that thoughts of death tended to increase their belief in a higher power. However, unlike Christians and Muslims, they did not increase their denial of Buddha, God, Jesus or Allah. Instead agnostics increased acceptance of all of those world views.

"In our study, individuals' minds appeared to rally around certain personal guiding concepts when faced with fear of death," said Vail. "Agnostics seemed to hedge their spiritual bets. They believed more firmly in a higher power. Yet at the same time, they expressed continued belief that the specific nature of that power was beyond human knowledge."


'/>"/>

Contact: Tim Wall
walltj@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Psychological testing may predict success in soccer
2. Long-term neuropsychological impairment is common in acute lung injury survivors
3. Association for Psychological Science, SAGE launch Clinical Psychological Science
4. Understanding and promoting mental health - Insights from psychological science
5. Psychological Science explains uproar over prostate-cancer screenings
6. Bridges to Recovery Now Offers Intensive Psychological and Mental Treatment
7. Unmet needs: Adolescents and young adult cancer patients lack psychological, social support
8. DeLuca of Kessler Foundation receives research award from American Psychological Association
9. Wayne State University researcher recognized by American Psychological Association
10. A myth debunked: The full moon does not increase the incidence of psychological problems
11. Parents Key to Easing Psychological Impact of Conn. Shootings
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... charity program created to assist the local community. Pledging to select a new ... nonprofit organizations in the area. Their goal is to bring community awareness to ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... ... 10 Best Water is excited to announce a new monthly ... topped the list as a result of their commitment to offering clients creative, customized, ... 5100, a top notch water company that specializes in providing the public with refreshing ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... ... Dr. Jessica Barron, of Barron Family Dental in Thornton, Colorado , ... in the North Metro Denver area. The new dental practice focuses on comfort where ... in the most relaxing environment. , While some dental visits can create anxiety for ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Intalere’s 2016 Executive ... than 200 of the country’s top healthcare executives to share insights on transformational ... of the Forum is the provider-centric perspective, experience, expertise and strategy shared by ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Gout is like no other joint pain. ... often severe, with intense swelling and redness. It is triggered by the crystallization of ... adults are the most susceptible, according to the February 2016 issue of Harvard Men's ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - The President of New Venture ... release of an anti-radiation product from their Research ... in the treatment of cancer using radiation and ... assist in the healing of radiation burns, even ... protect only the healthy cells from radiation damage. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016  Silicon Biosystems ... and products that help uncover the biological complexities ... Biosciences Inc., a developer of innovative technologies for ... co-marketing partnership aimed at enabling translational researchers to ... a couple hundred tumor and normal cells in ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Fla. , Feb. 9, 2016  Until recently, ... were surgery or liposuction. Thankfully, the FDA approved the ... them to death. Coolsculpting was originally approved in 2010 ... the thighs and now the chin. With this add-on ... Center can use a smaller applicator, the CoolMini, to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: