Analytic atheism: A cross-culturally weak and fickle phenomenon?

Will Gervais, Michiel van Elk, Dimitris Xygalatas, Ryan McKay, Mark Aveyard, Emma Buchtel, Ilan Dar-Nimrod, Eva Kundtová Klocová, Jonathan Ramsay, Tapani Riekki, Annika Svedholm-Häkkinen, Joseph Bulbulia

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Abstract

Religious belief is a topic of longstanding interest to psychological science, but the psychology of religious disbelief is a relative newcomer. One prominently discussed model is analytic atheism, wherein cognitive reflection, as measured with the Cognitive Reflection Test, overrides religious intuitions and instruction. Consistent with this model, performance-based measures of cognitive reflection predict religious disbelief in WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, & Democratic) samples. However, the generality of analytic atheism remains unknown. Drawing on a large global sample (N = 3461) from 13 religiously, demographically, and culturally diverse societies, we find that analytic atheism as usually assessed is in fact quite fickle cross-culturally, appearing robustly only in aggregate analyses and in three individual countries. The results provide additional evidence for culture’s effects on core beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Volume13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

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