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

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

By
Kristin Laurin, Aaron Kay, David Moscovitch
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
2008, Vol. 44, Issue 6, Pages 1559–1562

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.