What Makes You So Sure? Dogmatism, Fundamentalism, Analytic Thinking, Perspective Taking and Moral Concern in the Religious and Nonreligious
- 506 Downloads
Better understanding the psychological factors related to certainty in one’s beliefs (i.e., dogmatism) has important consequences for both individuals and social groups. Generally, beliefs can find support from at least two different routes of information processing: social/moral considerations or analytic/empirical reasoning. Here, we investigate how these two psychological constructs relate to dogmatism in two groups of individuals who preferentially draw on the former or latter sort of information when forming beliefs about the world—religious and nonreligious individuals. Across two studies and their pooled analysis, we provide evidence that although dogmatism is negatively related to analytic reasoning in both groups of individuals, it shares a divergent relationship with measures of moral concern depending on whether one identifies as religious or not. Study 1 showed that increasing levels of dogmatism were positively related to prosocial intentions among the religious and negatively related to empathic concern among the nonreligious. Study 2 replicated and extended these results by showing that perspective taking is negatively related to dogmatism in both groups, an effect which is particularly robust among the nonreligious. Study 2 also showed that religious fundamentalism was positively related to measures of moral concern among the religious. Because the current studies used a content-neutral measure to assess dogmatic certainty in one’s beliefs, they have the potential to inform practices for most effectively communicating with and persuading religious and nonreligious individuals to change maladaptive behavior, even when the mode of discourse is unrelated to religious belief.
KeywordsReligion Dogmatism Moral concern Perspective taking Default mode network (DMN) Task-positive network (TPN)
We would like to thank Gordon Pennycook and one anonymous reviewer for helpful suggestions throughout the revision process.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Both the authors declare no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Participants
All studies were approved by Case Western Reserve University’s Institutional Review Board. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Altemeyer, B. (1996). The authoritarian specter. Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Bzdok, D., Schilbach, L., Vogeley, K., Schneider, K., Laird, A. R., Langner, R., et al. (2012). Parsing the neural correlates of moral cognition: ALE meta-analysis on morality, theory of mind, and empathy. Brain Structure and Function, 217(4), 783–796. doi:10.1007/s00429-012-0380-y.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Cooperman, A., Smith, G., A., Mohamed, B., & Schiller, A. (2014). Religion in everyday life: Highly religious Americans are happier and more involved with family but are no more likely to exercise, recycle or make socially conscious consumer choices. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2016/04/12/religion-in-everyday-life/.
- Dubendorff, S. J., & Luchner, A. F. (2015). The Perception of atheists as narcissistic. Rollins College Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Program, 2015 Annual Report, 106.Google Scholar
- Festinger, L. (1962). A theory of cognitive dissonance (Vol. 2). California: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fox, M. D., Snyder, A. Z., Vincent, J. L., Corbetta, M., Van Essen, D. C., & Raichle, M. E. (2005). The human brain is intrinsically organized into dynamic, anticorrelated functional networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(27), 9673–9678. doi:10.1073/pnas.0504136102.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Friedman, J. P., & Jack, A. I. (accepted). Mapping cognitive structure onto the landscape of philosophical debate: An empirical framework with relevance to problems of consciousness, free will and ethics. Review of Philosophy and Psychology.Google Scholar
- Friedman, J., Jack, A. I., Rochford, K., & Boyatzis, R. (2015). Antagonistic neural networks underlying organizational behavior. In D. A. Waldman & P. A. Balthazard (Eds.), Organizational neuroscience (monographs in leadership and management) (Vol 7, pp. 115–141). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
- Harris, S. (2014). Waking up: A guide to spirituality without religion. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
- Hunsberger, B. E., & Altemeyer, B. (2006). Atheists: A groundbreaking study of America’s nonbelievers. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
- Jack, A. I. (2013). A scientific case for conceptual dualism: The problem of consciousness and the opposing domains hypothesis. In J. Knobe, T. Lombrozo, & S. Nichols (Eds.), Oxford studies in experimental philosophy (Vol. 1). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Jack, A. I., Robbins, P., Friedman, J. P., & Meyers, C. D. (2014). More than a feeling: counterintuitive effects of compassion on moral judgment. Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind, 125): Continuum.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. (2009). A theory of justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Schilbach, L., Eickhoff, S., Rotarskajagiela, A., Fink, G., & Vogeley, K. (2008). Minds at rest? Social cognition as the default mode of cognizing and its putative relationship to the “default system” of the brain. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(2), 457–467. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2008.03.013.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Schjoedt, U., Stødkilde-Jørgensen, H., Geertz, A. W., Lund, T. E., & Roepstorff, A. (2010). The power of charisma—perceived charisma inhibits the frontal executive network of believers in intercessory prayer. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 6(1), 119–127.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Smith, H., & Marranca, R. (2009). The world’s religions. New York: HarperOne.Google Scholar
- Spreng, R. N., Mar, R. A., & Kim, A. S. (2009). The common neural basis of autobiographical memory, prospection, navigation, theory of mind, and the default mode: a quantitative meta-analysis. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21(3), 489–510. doi:10.1162/jocn.2008.21029.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Stupple, E. J., Gale, M., & Richmond, C. (2013). Working memory, cognitive miserliness and logic as predictors of performance on the cognitive reflection test. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 35th annual conference of the cognitive science society.Google Scholar
- Tavris, C., & Aronson, E. (2008). Mistakes were made (but not by me): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.Google Scholar
- Vezich, S., Falk, E., & Lieberman, M. (2015). Persuasion neuroscience: New potential to test dual process theories. In E. Harmon-Jones & M. Inzlicht (Eds.), Social Neuroscience: Biological approaches to social Psychology. New York: Psychological Press.Google Scholar