Memory & Cognition

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 1–10 | Cite as

Cognitive style and religiosity: The role of conflict detection

  • Gordon Pennycook
  • James Allan Cheyne
  • Nathaniel Barr
  • Derek J. Koehler
  • Jonathan A. Fugelsang
Article

Abstract

Recent research has indicated a negative relation between the propensity for analytic reasoning and religious beliefs and practices. Here, we propose conflict detection as a mechanism underlying this relation, on the basis of the hypothesis that more-analytic people are less religious, in part, because they are more sensitive to conflicts between immaterial religious beliefs and beliefs about the material world. To examine cognitive conflict sensitivity, we presented problems containing stereotypes that conflicted with base-rate probabilities in a task with no religious content. In three studies, we found evidence that religiosity is negatively related to conflict detection during reasoning. Independent measures of analytic cognitive style also positively predicted conflict detection. The present findings provide evidence for a mechanism potentially contributing to the negative association between analytic thinking and religiosity, and more generally, they illustrate the insights to be gained from integrating individual-difference factors and contextual factors to investigate analytic reasoning.

Keywords

Religiosity Cognitive style Dual-process theories Base-rate neglect Conflict detection Individual differences Inductive reasoning Reasoning Social cognition 

Supplementary material

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ESM 1(DOCX 141 kb)

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon Pennycook
    • 1
  • James Allan Cheyne
    • 1
  • Nathaniel Barr
    • 1
  • Derek J. Koehler
    • 1
  • Jonathan A. Fugelsang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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