The God of Big (And Good) Things: Religious Priming, Event Properties, and Supernatural Explanations

Ramsay, Jonathan E., Khong, Zhi Yin, and Yeo, Joey S.E. (2023) The God of Big (And Good) Things: Religious Priming, Event Properties, and Supernatural Explanations. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 33 (2). pp. 89-106.

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Humans have a pervasive tendency to make causal attributions when attempting to explain life events. While causality is often attributed to naturalistic forces, such as the agency of individuals or situational factors, many individuals – particularly those who hold religious or spiritual beliefs – invoke supernatural explanations that ascribe causation to invisible forces or agents such as God(s), fate, or karma. The present research sought to clarify conflicting findings regarding the types of events that tend to elicit supernatural explanations, and to investigate whether reminders of religion exerts a causal effect on these tendencies using priming methodologies. Over two studies (N = 119; N = 121), we observed a consistently greater tendency to invoke supernatural explanations of various kinds when event outcomes were serious and positive. A significant influence of religious priming was observed only for one type of supernatural explanation in Study 1, while inconsistent interactions between valence and seriousness were also observed. These findings are consistent with the notions of “God-of-the-gaps” and God-serving attributional biases, although evidence for a causal influence of reminders of religion on these processes remains inconclusive.

Item ID: 75490
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1532-7582
Copyright Information: © 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2022 01:08
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520504 Psychology of religion @ 75%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520505 Social psychology @ 25%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology @ 50%
13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1305 Religion > 130501 Religion and society @ 50%
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