Belief in God associated with ability to 'mentalize'

May 30, 2012

Belief in God or other higher powers may be crucially linked to humans' cognitive ability to infer other peoples' mental states, called "theory of mind" or "mentalizing," according to research published May 30 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers, led by Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia, found that deficits in mentalizing, as associated with the autism spectrum, were related to decreased .

Norenzayan explains, "Religious believers intuitively think of their deities as personified beings with mental states who anticipate and respond to human needs and actions. Therefore, mentalizing deficits would be expected to make religious belief less intuitive."

However, the researchers caution that there is a combination of reasons, some of them psychological, others historical and cultural, why some people believe more than others; mentalizing is only one contributing factor among many.

Additionally, the researchers explored the in . According to Will Gervais, who co-led the investigation, "Mentalizing deficits are known to be more common in men than women, and in our research this explained the well-known finding that men tend to be less religious than women".

Explore further: Death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God

More information: Norenzayan A, Gervais WM, Trzesniewski KH (2012) Mentalizing Deficits Constrain Belief in a Personal God. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36880. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036880

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2.3 / 5 (3) May 30, 2012
The researchers, led by Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia, found that deficits in mentalizing, as associated with the autism spectrum, were related to decreased belief in God.
Uh huh. So atheists have something wrong with them like autism? Other studies by this gentleman:

"Do You Believe in Atheists? Distrust Is Central to Anti-Atheist Prejudice
"Recent polls indicate that atheists are among the least liked people in areas with religious majorities (i.e.,
in most of the world)... anti-atheist prejudice is particularly
motivated by DISTRUST..."

Shariff, A.F. & Norenzayan, A. (2007). God is watching you: Priming God concepts INCREASES PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR in an anonymous economic game.

Gervais, W. M., & Norenzayan, A. (2012) Like a camera in the sky? Thinking about God increases public self-awareness and SOCIALLY DESIRABLE responding.

-I could be wrong but it seems he sees things from a decidedly skewed perspective?
1 / 5 (2) May 30, 2012
Actually, here is a talk by this guy:

-Found on:

-He discusses a darwinian explanation for religiosity. Some notes:

'Why are religions growing? The main reason - HIGHER FERTILITY RATES.'

''Naturalistic fallacy' - just because something may be natural or normal, this does not mean it is desirable. A hallmark of domestication.'

'Religion was an adaptation which was exploited to facilitate cooperation within large groups for instance...but are NO LONGER needed for this.'

''Tragedy of cognition' the awareness of our own inevitable death.'

-These are things which have been on my mind.
not rated yet Jun 03, 2012
"..cognitive ability to infer other peoples' mental states, called theory of mind or mentalizing "

Sorry, but in my book that's called " being judgmental ", aka, " ego projection of personal shortcomings "

You might as well try to assume the dasein of a potato.

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