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Thoughts of mortality influence belief

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Understanding how thoughts of mortality influence individuals’ beliefs sheds light on the commonalities among different groups’ motivations and could help ease tensions between opposing viewpoints, according to University of Missouri experiments that tested the relationship between awareness of death and belief in a higher power. The study found that thoughts of death increased atheists, Christians, Muslims and agnostics conviction in their own world views. For example, contrary to the wartime aphorism that there are no atheists in foxholes, thoughts of death did not cause atheists to express belief in a deity.

“Our study suggests that atheists’ and religious believers’ world views have the same practical goal,” said Kenneth Vail, lead author and doctoral student in psychological science in MU’s College of Arts and Science. “Both groups seek a coherent world view to manage the fear of death and link themselves to a greater and immortal entity, such as a supreme being, scientific progress or a nation. If people were more aware of this psychological similarity, perhaps there might be more understanding and less conflict among groups with different beliefs.”

His research suggests that morbid imagery, such as news headlines or caricatures of enemies in war propaganda, can reinforce nationalistic and/or religious ideals by keeping death on the mind and subconsciously encouraging denial of opposing ideologies. This research suggests that religious symbols and stories involving death, such as the crucifix, function psychologically to remind the faithful of mortality and subconsciously reinforce one particular world view to the exclusion of others.

http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2013/0107-recognizing-psychological-common-ground-could-ease-tensions-among-those-with-different-religious-beliefs-says-mu-psychologist/

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Posted (edited)

For example, contrary to the wartime aphorism that there are no atheists in foxholes, thoughts of death did not cause atheists to express belief in a deity.

Why is it important to atheists that religious people think of them a certain way? They are so strong in their beliefs that they conducted a study to invalidate anyone who disagrees with them. Thank you again thought police, nice objectivity for almost a paragraph.

Edited by Order66

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Posted (edited)

The original study appears not to be available for free. It has been electronically published since the summer, so has been professionally summarized. A good resource is here:

http://www.medicalda...aith-belief.htm

54 College students (atheists or Christians), 40 Iranian Muslims and 28 Agnostic students do not a human race make.

As the summary points out, this is agenda research, that is, an attempt to promote the authors' favorite "single-factor model" of human behavior. Freud liked sex (although as his career progressed, he came to realize that his critics had a point about single factors), his one-time supporter Adler came to like Power, ..., these people like "Terror Management" of death.

Of course, single-factor models have a certain inherent plausibility: sex is interesting, death is interestiing (if you're French, you see them as two sides of the same coin), and power is interesting (if you have more power, then you can have more sex, but you will die anyway). Plus, we all know people who live unbalanced lives, oversteeped in one or another fascination. "Single factorness" may even be a "phase," or succession of phases, that people go through, hopefully on the way to maturity, perspective and balance. If they don't die first, of course.

The second author is the big deal here,

http://psychology.missouri.edu/arndtj

As you can see from his website, "Terror Management Theory" isn't just the key to religious understanding, but legal decision making, artisitc expression, love of parents, public health, and of course, the meaning of life. In his opinion. More on TMT is here:

http://www.tmt.missouri.edu/

This is the worldview of somebody who hangs out with late teenagers and twenty-somethings for a living. Sorry, as must be obvious, I don't buy it.

Yes, to live in this world, you do have to come to terms with the fact that you won't always be alive. Sex will present challenges, too. You have to come to terms with that. Power will present challenges. You have to come to terms with that. Even your dog will present challenges, and your dog actually wants to cooperate with you. And you still have to come to terms with that.

I suspect that some religions do cultivate terror about death, so as to soothe the anxiety that the religion itself excites. Hell is, by design, worse than non-existence, and whose bright idea was Hell? But death is only one of the many buttons we have that can be pushed. Some religions visibly manipulate sex and power, too.

So, let me propose my own single-factor model, the eight bits Button-Pusher Management Theory (hereafter, 8bB-PMT). The object of life according to 8bB-PMT is to keep other people's grubby fingers off your buttons, ideally for you also to refrain from gratuitous pushing other people's buttons, and to grow up enough to learn to push your own damned buttons yourself.

Edited by eight bits
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Posted (edited)

Why is it important to atheists that religious people think of them a certain way? They are so strong in their beliefs that they conducted a study to invalidate anyone who disagrees with them. Thank you again thought police, nice objectivity for almost a paragraph.

I really didn't get an indication of what belief the author of the article held. You seem to have a issue with anyone disagreeing with your belief system. I think people throw a lot of criticism at atheist to the point they become rather sensitive. I don't blame them really because I have similar issues in relation to the criticism I get of my Pagan beliefs. I don't seem to get that kind of attitude form atheist, though. Then I don't try to sell my religion or push my belief on anyone.

I thought it was a good article. I need to look at the study. My father was the atheist in the foxhole. I was there when he passed, he never wavered in his belief.

Edited by Darkwind
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You seem to have a issue with anyone disagreeing with your belief system.

I'm over it.

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Why is it important to atheists that religious people think of them a certain way? They are so strong in their beliefs that they conducted a study to invalidate anyone who disagrees with them. Thank you again thought police, nice objectivity for almost a paragraph.

why is it so difficult to just discuss something without getting defensive?

The article's title is :

Recognizing Psychological Common Ground Could Ease Tensions Among Those with Different Religious Beliefs, says MU Psychologist

but somehow you turned this into atheists meeding ppl to think of them in a certain way. Lame.

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So, let me propose my own single-factor model, the eight bits Button-Pusher Management Theory (hereafter, 8bB-PMT). The object of life according to 8bB-PMT is to keep other people's grubby fingers off your buttons, ideally for you also to refrain from gratuitous pushing other people's buttons, and to grow up enough to learn to push your own damned buttons yourself.

I once devised my own single factor model. It was, "Cultural understanding negates tensional stressors," and I thought it made a lot of sense.

However, when I began to devise a letter head for it, I realised it would never wash.

And my apologies in advance for offence to any reader. Holidays, and their associated negation of tensional stressors, and an increase in my levity quotient, has temporarily overwhelmed my natural verbal inhibitions.

The defence also pleads mitigation, in that this is a true story, although it was actually a psychology paper, written at university when I was much younger and not as wise, and I never noticed the problem until my tutor pointed it out to me.

Edited by Mr Walker
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