The Einstein effect provides global evidence for scientific source credibility effects and the influence of religiosity

Hoogeveen, Suzanne, Haaf, Juila M., Bulbulia, Joseph A., Ross, Robert M., McKay, Ryan, Altay, Sacha, Bendixen, Theiss, Berniunas, Renatas, Cheshin, Arik, Gentili, Claudio, Georgescu, Raluca, Gervais, Will M., Hagel, Kristin, Kavanagh, Christopher, Levy, Neil, Neely, Alejandra, Qiu, Lin, Rabelo, Andre, Ramsay, Jonathan E., Rutjens, Bastiaan T., Turpin, Hugh, Uzarevic, Filip, Wuyts, Robin, Xygalatas, Dimitris, and van Elk, Michiel (2022) The Einstein effect provides global evidence for scientific source credibility effects and the influence of religiosity. Nature Human Behaviour, 6. pp. 523-535.

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Abstract

People tend to evaluate information from reliable sources more favourably, but it is unclear exactly how perceivers' worldviews interact with this source credibility effect. In a large and diverse cross-cultural sample (N = 10; 195 from 24 countries), we presented participants with obscure, meaningless statements attributed to either a spiritual guru or a scientist. We found a robust global source credibility effect for scientific authorities, which we dub `the Einstein effect': across all 24 countries scientists hold greater authority than spiritual source, even among highly committed religious people, who are relatively also more credulous of nonsense from scientists than they are of nonsense from spiritual gurus. Additionally, individual religiosity predicted a weaker relative preference for the statement from the scientist vs. the spiritual guru, and was more strongly associated with credibility judgments for the guru than the scientist. Independent data on explicit trust ratings across 143 countries mirrored the experimental patterns. These findings suggest that irrespective of religious worldview, science is a powerful and universal heuristic that signals the reliability of information.

Item ID: 69838
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2397-3374
Keywords: source credibility, religion, science beliefs, culture
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2022
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant number DP180102384
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2021 22:21
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520505 Social psychology @ 50%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520504 Psychology of religion @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology @ 34%
13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1305 Religion > 130501 Religion and society @ 33%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280116 Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture @ 33%
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