On the belief in God: Towards an understanding of the emotional substrates of compensatory control


Journal Article

We suggest that beliefs in a controlling God originate, at least in part, from the desire to avoid the emotionally uncomfortable experience of perceiving the world as random and chaotic. Forty-seven participants engaged in an anxiety-provoking visualization procedure. For half, the procedure included a manipulation designed to temporarily lower beliefs in personal control. As predicted, it was only among those participants whose sense of personal control was threatened-i.e., participants in need of an alternate means for protecting their belief in a non-random world-that subjective anxiety led to increased subsequent beliefs in the existence of a controlling God. Wide-ranging implications are discussed. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Laurin, K; Kay, AC; Moscovitch, DA

Published Date

  • November 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 44 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1559 - 1562

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0465

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1031

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jesp.2008.07.007

Citation Source

  • Scopus