An analytic cognitive style denotes a propensity to set aside highly salient intuitions when engaging in problem solving. We assess the hypothesis that an analytic cognitive style is associated with a history of questioning, altering, and rejecting supernatural claims, both religious and paranormal. In two studies, we examined associations of God beliefs, religious engagement, conventional religious beliefs and paranormal beliefs with performance measures of cognitive ability and analytic cognitive style. An analytic cognitive style negatively predicted both religious and paranormal beliefs (...) when controlling for cognitive ability as well as religious engagement, sex, age, political ideology, and education. Participants more willing to engage in analytic reasoning were less likely to endorse supernatural beliefs. Further, an association between analytic cognitive style and religious engagement was mediated by religious beliefs, suggesting that an analytic cognitive style negatively affects religious engagement via lower acceptance of conventional religious beliefs. Results for types of God belief indicate that the association between an analytic cognitive style and God beliefs is more nuanced than mere acceptance and rejection, but also includes adopting less conventional God beliefs, such as Pantheism or Deism. Our data are consistent with the idea that two people who share the same cognitive ability, education, political ideology, sex, age and level of religious engagement can acquire very different sets of beliefs about the world if they differ in their propensity to think analytically. (shrink)
While individual differences in the willingness and ability to engage analytic processing have long informed research in reasoning and decision making, the implications of such differences have not yet had a strong influence in other domains of psychological research. We claim that analytic thinking is not limited to problems that have a normative basis and, as an extension of this, predict that individual differences in analytic thinking will be influential in determining beliefs and values. Along with assessments of cognitive ability (...) and style, religious beliefs, and moral values, participants judged the wrongness of acts considered disgusting and conventionally immoral, but that do not violate care- or fairness-based moral principles. Differences in willingness to engage analytic thinking predicted reduced judgements of wrongness, independent of demographics, political ideology, religiosity, and moral values. Further, we show that those who were higher in cognitive ability were less likely to indicate that purity, patriotism, and respect for traditions and authority are important to their moral thinking. These findings are consistent with a “Reflectionist” view that assumes a role for analytic thought in determining substantive, deeply-held human beliefs and values. (shrink)
Individual differences in the mere willingness to think analytically has been shown to predict religious disbelief. Recently, however, it has been argued that analytic thinkers are not actually less religious; rather, the putative association may be a result of religiosity typically being measured after analytic thinking (an order effect). In light of this possibility, we report four studies in which a negative correlation between religious belief and performance on analytic thinking measures is found when religious belief is measured in a (...) separate session. We also performed a meta-analysis on all previously published studies on the topic along with our four new studies (N = 15,078, k = 31), focusing specifically on the association between performance on the Cognitive Reflection Test (the most widely used individual difference measure of analytic thinking) and religious belief. This meta-analysis revealed an overall negative correlation (r) of -.18, 95% CI [-.21, -.16]. Although this correlation is modest, self-identified atheists (N = 133) scored 18.7% higher than religiously affiliated individuals (N = 597) on a composite measure of analytic thinking administered across our four new studies (d = .72). Our results indicate that the association between analytic thinking and religious disbelief is not caused by a simple order effect. There is good evidence that atheists and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers. (shrink)
Recent evidence suggests that people are highly efficient at detecting conflicting outputs produced by competing intuitive and analytic reasoning processes. Specifically, De Neys and Glumicic demonstrated that participants reason longer about problems that are characterized by conflict between stereotypical personality descriptions and base-rate probabilities of group membership. However, this finding comes from problems involving probabilities much more extreme than those used in traditional studies of base-rate neglect. To test the degree to which these findings depend on such extreme probabilities, we (...) varied base-rate probabilities over five experiments and compared participants’ response time for conflict problems with non-conflict problems. Longer response times for stereotypical responses to conflict versus non-conflict problems were found only in the presence of extreme probabilities. Our results suggest that humans may not be consistently efficient at detecting conflicts during reasoning. (shrink)
Manipulations that draw attention to extensional or set-based considerations are neither sufficient nor necessary for enhanced use of base rates in intuitive judgments. Frequency formats are only one part of the puzzle of base-rate use and neglect. The conditions under which these and other manipulations promote base-rate use may be more parsimoniously organized under the broader notion of case-based judgment.