Why does religiosity persist (sedikides 2010)Document Transcript
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2 Personality and Social Psychology Review XX(X)this topic to the discretion of those few highly religious or strengthening one’s faith in God in the presence ofhighly antireligious researchers. This pattern, in turn, may suffering.have tainted the study of religion and religiosity as poten- The next five articles take a functional approach to religios-tially biased and as jeopardizing the objectivity of scientific ity. They argue in favor of specific motive or need drivingscrutiny (Stark & Bainbridge, 1985). religious belief and practice. Sedikides and Gebauer (IN In the past few years, however, there have been clear signs PRESS) meta-analytically test the idea that the self-enhancementthat psychology, and in particular social and personality psy- motive underlies religiosity (intrinsic, extrinsic, religion-as-chology, is abandoning this somewhat insular attitude. Now, quest). They show that both macro-level culture (countriesan increasing number of researchers are conducting cutting- varying in religiosity) and micro-level culture (U.S. universitiesedge research on religiosity. Recent world events (e.g., 9/11), varying in religiosity) moderate the self-enhancement–religios-the positive psychology movement, and the intensification of ity link. The positive relation between self-enhancement andthe age-long debate between religious and secular circles have intrinsic religiosity is stronger, and the low or negative relationall contributed to this change of hearts. Religiosity—an orien- between self-enhancement and extrinsic religiosity or religion-tation, behavioral set, and lifestyle considered important by as-quest is stronger (i.e., more negative), the higher the culturethe large majority of people worldwide—cannot be neglected is on religiosity. Kay, Gaucher, McGregor, and Nash (INby social and personality psychology any longer. PRESS) zero in on the motive for control. They propose that This special issue attempts to capture the zeitgeist of this religion serves as a means for preserving the belief in an orderlyexplosion of interest in religiosity by providing a vibrant world, especially when other relevant structures fail to satisfyforum for an exchange of ideas and, thus, greater participa- the motive for control. They demonstrate that experimentallytion of social and personality psychology in an ongoing and induced low levels of personal control elevate belief in God orsocietally relevant debate. The special issue explores the spiritual forces. They also review evidence showing that, whenpotential of social and personality psychology theories to the stability of external control structures (e.g., government) isaccount for the phenomenon of religiosity (including, but not threatened, religious belief increases. Granqvist, Mikulincer,limited to, belief in supernatural agency). Social and person- and Shaver (IN PRESS) maintain that religious beliefs satisfyality psychologists have a reputation as theory builders. relational concerns and in particular attachment needs. The rela-What is it that all those years of powerful theorizing have to tionship with God is an attachment relationship and is especiallyoffer? What do the data have to say? The objective of the beneficial to individuals who are insecurely attached. Ysseldyk,special issue, then, is to use existing and well-established Matheson, and Hymie (IN PRESS) and Hogg, Adelman, andtheory, coupled with supportive empirical evidence, to Blagg (IN PRESS) view religion as a group phenomenon.explain the phenomenon of religiosity in all its complexity Ysseldyk et al. propose the motive for a positive social identityand heterogeneity. All aspects of religiosity (e.g., different as an explanation for religiosity. Identification with socialreligions as practiced by different cultures) are fair targets groups entails benefits but also costs, as when it is threatened byfor dispassionate analysis, debate, and inclusion. intergroup conflict. Hogg et al. posit that uncertainty reduction Special issue articles share four commonalities. First, not only underpins religiosity but also influences conformitythey ask “why” questions. Why is religiosity so important to with religious leaders, which may culminate in immoral behav-so many people? Why is religiosity important to some people ior. Vail et al. (IN PRESS) emphasize the terror managementand not to others? What are the functions that religiosity functions of religiosity. It reduces death anxiety, as it serves toserves? Second, they take a theoretical approach. Contribu- provide people with psychological equanimity in the face oftions draw from established theories to understand and death awareness.explain diverse aspects of religiosity. Third, they focus on Koole, McCullough, Kuhl, and Roelofsma (IN PRESS)social and personality psychological approaches to religios- grapple with a paradox. How can religious persons have rela-ity. Finally, they try to accomplish several specific tasks: tively high levels of emotional well-being when they often(a) to outline the theory that underlies their argument, (b) to endure aversive experiences or forsake pleasurable ones?provide selected empirical demonstrations of the theory’s Their answer is that religion facilitates an implicit form ofveracity from the social/personality psychological literature, self-regulation that allows both striving for high standards(c) importantly, to discuss empirical findings that are directly and maintaining emotional well-being. Their theoreticallinked to the phenomenon of religiosity, and (d) to draw framework and empirical evidence address a related para-implications for future empirical pursuits. dox, namely, the tenacity of irrational aspects of religion. Gray and Wegner (IN PRESS) open up by examining This irrationality, though, is more seeming than real, as itperceptions of a supernatural agency. They argue that people confers vital psychological benefits in promoting implicitperceive God as possessing agency but not experience. God self-regulation.is seen as the ultimate moral agent, the entity that people In a meta-analysis and a narrative review, Saroglou (INblame for their misfortunes and praise for their fortune. Their PRESS) sketches the religious personality: Religious individu-theoretical analysis explains such curious phenomena as als are high on Agreeableness and Conscientiousness but low
Sedikides 3on Openness to Experience. These findings contextualize the Burkert, W. (1960). Creation of the sacred: Tracks of biology incontributions by D. Hall, Matz, and Wood (IN PRESS) and early religions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Graham and Haidt (IN PRESS). In a meta-analysis, Hall et al. Crabtree, S. (2009). Analyst insights: Religiosity around the world.show that religious individuals are racist to the extent that the Retrieved September 14, 2009 from http://www.gallup.com/belief systems of religiosity and racism share the values of video/114694/Analyst-Insights-Religiosity-Around-World.aspxsocial conformity and respect for tradition. Graham and Haidt Darwin, C. (1859). On the origins of species by means of naturalhighlight the social side of religiosity by suggesting that reli- selection. London: John Murray.gion is mainly founded on the group-focused values of in-group Dawkins, R. (2006). The God delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.or loyalty, authority or respect, and purity or sanctity. Their Dawkins, R. (2009). The greatest show on earth: The evidence fortheoretical proposals can explain such rather puzzling phenom- evolution. London: Bantam.ena as why most people are religious worldwide, why religious Dennett, D. (1995). Darwin’s dangerous idea. New York: Simonpersons are more charitable than nonreligious ones, and why & Schuster.religious individuals are happier than nonreligious ones. Dennett, D. (2006). Breaking the spell: Religion as a natural phe- Religiosity is a complex, multiply determined phenome- nomenon. London: Viking.non. Capitalizing on social and personality psychology Durkheim, E. (1995). The elementary forms of religious life. Newtheory, the special issue offers a nonexhaustive but fairly York: Free Press. (Original work published 1912)representative portrait of the landscape featuring social and Edgell, P., Gerteis, J., & Hartmann, D. (2006). Atheists as “other”:personality psychology and religiosity. The special issue Moral boundaries and cultural membership in American society.emphasizes process-oriented explanations of religiosity that American Sociological Review, 71, 211-234.take into account individual differences. This emphasis Emmons, R. A. (1999). Religion in the psychology of personality:promises to strengthen the coherence of theorizing and An introduction. Journal of Personality, 67, 873-888.research on religiosity. It is hoped that the special issue will Emmons, R. A., & Palouzian, R. F. (2003). The psychology of reli-elucidate the phenomenon of religiosity per se, challenge gion. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 377-402.and expand social and personality psychology theories in Exline, J. J. (2002). Stumbling blocks on the religious road: Frac-novel ways, bring social and personality psychology to the tured relationships, nagging vices, and the inner struggle toforefront of explanations for religiosity, and build bridges believe. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 182-189.and a healthy dialogue between social and personality psy- Freud, S. (1961a). Civilization and its discontents (J. Strachey,chology perspectives and other approaches to religiosity. Trans.). New York: Norton. (Original work published 1930)The ultimate hope is that each article will prove generative, Freud, S. (1961b). The future of an illusion (J. Strachey, Trans.).provide fodder for future empirical directions, and spark New York: Norton. (Original work published 1927)research on religiosity. Gallup. (2009). Religion. Retrieved September 14, 2009, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/1690/Religion.aspxDeclaration of Conflicting Interests Glaeser, E. L., & Sacerdote, B. I. (2008). 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