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Psychon Bull Rev. 2013 Aug;20(4):806-11. doi: 10.3758/s13423-013-0394-3.

Belief bias during reasoning among religious believers and skeptics.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Canada. gpennyco@uwaterloo.ca

Abstract

We provide evidence that religious skeptics, as compared to believers, are both more reflective and effective in logical reasoning tasks. While recent studies have reported a negative association between an analytic cognitive style and religiosity, they focused exclusively on accuracy, making it difficult to specify potential underlying cognitive mechanisms. The present study extends the previous research by assessing both performance and response times on quintessential logical reasoning problems (syllogisms). Those reporting more religious skepticism made fewer reasoning errors than did believers. This finding remained significant after controlling for general cognitive ability, time spent on the problems, and various demographic variables. Crucial for the purpose of exploring underlying mechanisms, response times indicated that skeptics also spent more time reasoning than did believers. This novel finding suggests a possible role of response slowing during analytic problem solving as a component of cognitive style that promotes overriding intuitive first impressions. Implications for using additional processing measures, such as response time, to investigate individual differences in cognitive style are discussed.

PMID:
23397237
DOI:
10.3758/s13423-013-0394-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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