We live in one of the most religious countries in the world, which can be seen as a point outside the curve even when compared to our South American neighbors —74% of Brazilians say that religion is “very important” in their lives, against 35% Argentines and 27% of Chileans (the world average is 55%, similar to the numbers in the USA). It is worthwhile, therefore, to try to use the tools of science to understand the origins and maintenance of this religiosity in the country – and it is auspicious to see researchers from Brazil advancing in this field.
I say this because I had the opportunity to watch the part of this advance a few days ago, when I participated, by teleconference, in a master's board at the Psychology Institute of UnB (University of Brasília).
During the defense of Sérgio Paulo da Silveira Nascimento's work, I felt like the proverbial dwarf perched on the shoulders of giants (I was certainly the least qualified there), but it was very rewarding to realize how it is possible to build knowledge based on the theme in parents.
Nascimento, under the guidance of researchers Ronaldo Pilati and André Rabelo, used data obtained from more than 500 university students in the Federal District and the USA to assess how cognitive and social influences contribute to statements of belief (or disbelief) in God.
In other words, do people believe in the Lord because they have a natural propensity for faith or because that belief was instilled in them?
Common sense, of course, suggests that both factors must contribute to this outcome, but the question is how and to what extent they influence (dis) belief. Some works have indicated, for example, that two major types of cognitive style (roughly, reasoning methods), dubbed "intuitive" and "analytical", are correlated with belief and disbelief in God, respectively.
It is possible to distinguish intuitives from analytics through an already standardized test, which consists of “pranks” of reasoning. Intuitives, more "believers", tend to use faster and closer problem-solving methods, which sometimes lead them to make mistakes.
Example: if a racket and a ball together cost R $ 1.10, and the racket costs R $ 1 more than the ball, what is the price of the ball? The intuitive answer is “10 cents”, but the correct one is “5 cents”, because R $ 1.05 + R $ 0.05 = R $ 1.10. Analytics tend not to fall for it – and are less likely to believe in God too.
On the other hand, there is also evidence that the frequency of each person's exposure to clear signs of religiosity since childhood (going to services, seeing parents doing charity through their church, etc.) influences their statement of belief.
The results obtained by Nascimento indicate that the two factors interact in interesting and complicated ways. Being analytical favors disbelief a little, but less than other studies have shown, while exposure to signs of religiosity has a greater weight.
And, what is more curious, analytical individuals who are also religious seem to defend their identity from people of faith more fiercely than intuitives, thinking that other people are LESS religious than they really are.
Or, as the researcher writes, “for intuitives, it is a naive statement of belief; for analytics, a rationalization of inherited religious identity ”. If we want to understand the complexity of the phenomenon of faith, it is essential to take these details into account.
(tagsToTranslate) religion (t) church (t) christianity (t) buddhism (t) science (t) sheet