Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Analytic Atheism: A Cross-culturally Weak and Fickle Phenomenon?

Gervais, Will M, Michiel van Elk, Dimitris Xygalatas, Ryan McKay, Mark Aveyard, Emma E K BUCHTEL, Ilan Dar-Nimrod, et al. 2017. “Analytic Atheism: A Cross-culturally Weak and Fickle Phenomenon?”. PsyArXiv. December 6.

Abstract: Religious belief is a topic of longstanding interest to psychological science, however the psychology of religious disbelief is a relative newcomer. One prominently discussed model is analytic atheism, wherein analytic thinking overrides religious intuitions and instruction. Consistent with this model, performance-based measures of reliance on analytic thinking predict religious disbelief in WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, & Democratic) samples. However, the generality of analytic atheism remains unknown. Drawing on a large global sample (N = 3459) from 13 religiously, demographically, and culturally diverse societies, we find that analytic atheism is in fact quite fickle cross-culturally, only appearing robustly in aggregate analyses and in three individual countries. Such complexity implies a need to revise simplistic theories of religious disbelief as primarily grounded in cognitive style. The results provide additional evidence for culture’s effects on core beliefs, highlighting the power of comparative cultural evidence to clarify core mechanisms of human psychological variation.

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