Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Believers' inferences about God's beliefs are uniquely egocentric

Date:
December 1, 2009
Source:
University of Chicago
Summary:
Religious people tend to use their own beliefs as a guide in thinking about what God believes, but are less constrained when reasoning about other people's beliefs, according to a new study.

Religious people tend to use their own beliefs as a guide in thinking about what God believes, but are less constrained when reasoning about other people's beliefs, according to new study published in the Nov. 30 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related Articles


Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, led the research, which included a series of survey and neuroimaging studies to examine the extent to which people's own beliefs guide their predictions about God's beliefs. The findings of Epley and his co-authors at Australia's Monash University and UChicago extend existing work in psychology showing that people are often egocentric when they infer other people's beliefs.

The PNAS paper reports the results of seven separate studies. The first four include surveys of Boston rail commuters, UChicago undergraduate students and a nationally representative database of online respondents in the United States. In these surveys, participants reported their own belief about an issue, their estimated God's belief, along with a variety of others, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Major League Baseball's Barry Bonds, President George W. Bush, and an average American.

Two other studies directly manipulated people's own beliefs and found that inferences about God's beliefs tracked their own beliefs. Study participants were asked, for example, to write and deliver a speech that supported or opposed the death penalty in front of a video camera. Their beliefs were surveyed both before and after the speech.

The final study involved functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the neural activity of test subjects as they reasoned about their own beliefs versus those of God or another person. The data demonstrated that reasoning about God's beliefs activated many of the same regions that become active when people reasoned about their own beliefs.

The researchers noted that people often set their moral compasses according to what they presume to be God's standards. "The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing," they conclude. "This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God's beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing."

But the research in no way denies the possibility that God's presumed beliefs also may provide guidance in situations where people are uncertain of their own beliefs, the co-authors noted.

Funding was provided by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Templeton Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicholas Epley, Benjamin A. Converse, Alexa Delbosc, George A. Monteleone and John T. Cacioppo. Believers' estimates of God's beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people's beliefs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nov. 30, 2009

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago. "Believers' inferences about God's beliefs are uniquely egocentric." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130151321.htm>.
University of Chicago. (2009, December 1). Believers' inferences about God's beliefs are uniquely egocentric. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130151321.htm
University of Chicago. "Believers' inferences about God's beliefs are uniquely egocentric." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130151321.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) — Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Phoenix hospital is experimenting with a faster way to test much needed medications for deadly brain tumors. Patients get a single dose of a potential drug, and hours later have their tumor removed to see if the drug had any affect. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Bedtime Rituals For a Good Night's Sleep

The Best Bedtime Rituals For a Good Night's Sleep

Buzz60 (Jan. 22, 2015) — What you do before bed can effect how well you sleep. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has bedtime rituals to induce the best night&apos;s sleep. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins