Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moments of spirituality can induce liberal attitudes, researchers find

Date:
February 25, 2013
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
People become more politically liberal immediately after practising a spiritual exercise such as meditation, researchers have found.

People become more politically liberal immediately after practising a spiritual exercise such as meditation.
Credit: Yuri Arcurs / Fotolia

People become more politically liberal immediately after practising a spiritual exercise such as meditation, researchers at the University of Toronto have found.

"There's great overlap between religious beliefs and political orientations," says one of the study authors, Jordan Peterson of U of T's Department of Psychology. "We found that religious individuals tend to be more conservative and spiritual people tend to be more liberal. Inducing a spiritual experience through a guided meditation exercise led both liberals and conservatives to endorse more liberal political attitudes."

"While religiousness is characterized by devotion to a specific tradition, set of principles, or code of conduct, spirituality is associated with the direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we're all connected," says lead author Jacob Hirsh of U of T's Rotman School of Management.

In three studies, the researchers -- Hirsh, Peterson and Megan Walberg, examined their participants' political views in relation to their religiousness and spirituality. In the first study, they asked 590 American participants whether they identified as Democrat or Republican. In the second study, they measured 703 participants' political orientations and support for the major American and Canadian political parties. The researchers confirmed that religiousness was associated with political conservatism, while spirituality was associated with political liberalism. These associations were in turn due to the common values underlying these orientations: conservatism and religiousness both emphasize the importance of tradition, while liberalism and spirituality both emphasize the importance of equality and social harmony.

In the third study, the researchers recruited 317 participants from the U.S. and asked half to complete a spiritual exercise consisting of a guided meditation video. Those who watched the video were asked to close their eyes and breathe deeply, imagining themselves in a natural setting and feeling connected to the environment. They were then asked about their political orientation and to rate how spiritual they felt. The researchers reported that, compared to those in the control group, participants who meditated felt significantly higher levels of spirituality and expressed more liberal political attitudes, including a reduced support for "tough on crime" policies and a preference for liberal political candidates.

"Spiritual experiences seem to make people feel more of a connection with others," says Hirsh. "The boundaries we normally maintain between ourselves and the world tend to dissolve during spiritual experiences. These feelings of self-transcendence make it easier to recognize that we are all part of the same system, promoting an inclusive and egalitarian mindset."

The researchers hope that these findings can not only advance our understanding of spirituality, but also help future political dialogue.

"The conservative part of religious belief has played an important role in holding cultures together and establishing common rules. The spiritual part, on the other hand, helps cultures renew themselves by adapting to changing circumstances," says Peterson. "Both right and left are necessary; it's not that either is correct, it's that the dialogue between them produces the best chance we have at getting the balance right. If people could understand that both sides have an important role to play in society, some of the unnecessary tension might be eliminated."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. J. B. Hirsh, M. D. Walberg, J. B. Peterson. Spiritual Liberals and Religious Conservatives. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2012; 4 (1): 14 DOI: 10.1177/1948550612444138

Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Moments of spirituality can induce liberal attitudes, researchers find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130225131532.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2013, February 25). Moments of spirituality can induce liberal attitudes, researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130225131532.htm
University of Toronto. "Moments of spirituality can induce liberal attitudes, researchers find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130225131532.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Playground Tales: Learning to Socialize With Autism

Playground Tales: Learning to Socialize With Autism

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Playgrounds are typically great places where kids can have fun while learning how to interact with other kids, but for some kids with autism, they can have the reverse effect. Hear how researchers are trying to change that. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:
from the past week

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