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Category Archives: cognitive science

Epistemic beliefs’ role in promoting misperceptions and conspiracist ideation

Abstract

The present study uses a series of large, nationally representative surveys of the U.S. population to produce valid and reliable measures of three aspects of epistemic beliefs: reliance on intuition for factual beliefs (Faith in Intuition for facts), importance of consistency between empirical evidence and beliefs (Need for evidence), and conviction that “facts” are politically constructed (Truth is political). Analyses confirm that these factors complement established predictors of misperception [my emph.], substantively increasing our ability to explain both individuals’ propensity to engage in conspiracist ideation, and their willingness to embrace falsehoods about high-profile scientific and political issues. Individuals who view reality as a political construct are significantly more likely to embrace falsehoods, whereas those who believe that their conclusions must hew to available evidence tend to hold more accurate beliefs.

Garrett RK, Weeks BE (2017) Epistemic beliefs’ role in promoting misperceptions and conspiracist ideation. PLoS ONE 12(9): e0184733. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184733

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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in cognitive science, religion

 

Believing widely doubted conspiracy theories satisfies some people’s need to feel special

Unrelenting faith in the face of insurmountable contradictory evidence is a trait of believers in conspiracy theories that has long confounded researchers. For instance, past research has demonstrated how attempting to use evidence to sway believers of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories can backfire, increasing their certainty in the conspiracy. Could it also be the case that knowing that most people doubt a conspiracy actually makes believing in it more appealing, by fostering in the believer a sense of being somehow special? This question was explored recently in the European Journal of Social Psychology by Roland Imhoff and Pia Karoline Lamberty at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

[…]

While information about the popularity of the theory didn’t affect participants overall, it did impact those who said that they tended to endorse a lot of conspiracy theories. Among these conspiracy-prone participants, their belief in the made-up smoke detector conspiracy was enhanced on average when the conspiracy was framed as a minority opinion. Just as people are known to stop liking a band as soon as it becomes popular or “mainstream”, it appears conspiracy theorists can behave in a very similar fashion upon learning about the next big new conspiracy theory.

A final, unforeseen and particularly astounding finding emerged only after the participants had been debriefed. A full 25 per cent of the sample continued to retain beliefs in the made-up smoke detector conspiracy even after they had been told that the theory was false and had been made up by the researchers for the sole purpose of the study. Supporting the researchers’ conclusion further, this continued belief in the made-up conspiracy theory was correlated with the participants’ self-reported Need For Uniqueness. Taken together, the findings provide convincing evidence that some people are motivated to agree with conspiracy theories with an aura of exclusiveness. To them it may not matter in the slightest that their views are in the minority, to the contrary this knowledge could actually amplify their beliefs.

Read more at BPS Research Digest

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2017 in cognitive science, religion

 

People on the left and right use different cognitive systems to make moral judgments

“When it comes to emotionally charged, morally contentious decisions, people who self-identify as conservatives tend to make these decisions based on their emotive, intuitive responses to the scenario in question (their gut feelings), whereas those who identify as liberal tend to put gut-feelings aside and make decisions based on an attempt to reason logically and consciously about the scenario,”

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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in cognitive science

 

Study uncovers how brain damage increases religious fundamentalism

Research has found religious belief is associated with certain regions of the human brain, but there is still much to learn about how these areas influence religious belief. A new study in the journal Neuropsychologia found that lesions in a particular brain region tend to increase religious fundamentalism.

“Human beliefs, and in this case religious beliefs, are one of the cognitive and social knowledge stores that distinguish us from other species and are an indication of how evolution and cognitive/social processes influenced the development of the human brain,” Jordan Grafman of Northwestern University, the study’s corresponding author, told PsyPost.

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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in cognitive science, religion

 

“Spiritual but not religious”: Cognition, schizotypy, and conversion in alternative beliefs

“Spiritual but not religious”: Cognition, schizotypy, and conversion in alternative beliefs

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001002771730135X
Abstract

The spiritual but not religious (SBNR) are a growing population in secularizing societies. Yet, we know little about the underlying psychology of this group or their belief profile. Based on an individual difference approach, we address this knowledge gap by comparing SBNR with religious and non-religious participants. In a sample of Americans (n = 1013), we find that the SBNR differ from non-religious and religious participants in a number of ways. SBNR participants are more likely to hold paranormal beliefs and to have an experiential relationship to the supernatural (e.g. have mystical experiences and feelings of universal connectedness), but are similar to religious participants in their profile of cognitive biases. SBNR participants score higher on measures of schizotypy than the religious or non-religious. Reported conversions from one group (religious, SBNR, or non-religious) to another since childhood corresponds with predictable differences in cognitive biases, with dualism predicting conversion to religion and schizotypy predicting conversion to SBNR.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2017 in cognitive science, religion

 

Study finds belief in aliens and religious belief share a similar psychological motivation


New research suggests that paranormal beliefs about extraterrestrial intelligence are linked to the need to find meaning in life. 

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Posted by on April 17, 2017 in cognitive science, religion

 

Children with Williams Syndrome don’t form racial stereotypes

WILLIAMS Syndrome (WS) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder caused by the deletion of about 28 genes from the long arm of chromosome 7. It is characterized by mild to moderate mental retardation and “elfin” facial features. Most strikingly, individuals with WS exhibit highly gregarious social behaviour: they approach strangers readily and indiscriminately, behaving as if…

Source: Children with Williams Syndrome don’t form racial stereotypes

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2016 in cognitive science

 
 
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