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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2012 Oct;38(10):1288-300. Epub 2012 Jun 25.

Exploring the existential function of religion and supernatural agent beliefs among Christians, Muslims, atheists, and agnostics.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA. vail.kenneth@gmail.com

Abstract

Building on research suggesting one primary function of religion is the management of death awareness, the present research explored how supernatural beliefs are influenced by the awareness of death, for whom, and how individuals' extant beliefs determine which god(s), if any, are eligible to fulfill that function. In Study 1, death reminders had no effect among Atheists, but enhanced Christians' religiosity, belief in a higher power, and belief in God/Jesus and enhanced denial of Allah and Buddha. Similarly, death reminders increased Muslims' religiosity and belief in a higher power, and led to greater belief in Allah and denial of God/Jesus and Buddha (Study 2). Finally, in Study 3, death reminders motivated Agnostics to increase their religiosity, belief in a higher power, and their faith in God/Jesus, Buddha, and Allah. The studies tested three potential theoretical explanations and were consistent with terror management theory's worldview defense hypothesis. Theoretical implications are discussed.

PMID:
22700240
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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