OFF THE RECORD

Study finds the nonreligious can be more close-minded than the religious

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A new research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences studies how religious people can be more open minded than the so-called atheists.

Filip Uzarevic of the Catholic University of Louvain, one of the authors of the study told Psy Post that the main idea behind the study is to show that close mindedness is not always related to those who are religious.

Uzarevic says:

“The idea started through noticing that, in public discourse, despite both the conservative/religious groups and liberal/secular groups showing strong animosity towards the opposite ideological side, somehow it was mostly the former who were often labeled as ‘closed-minded’…Moreover, such view of the secular being more tolerant and open seemed to be dominant in the psychological literature. Being interested in this topic, we started to discuss whether this is necessarily and always the case: Are the religious indeed generally more closed-minded, or would it perhaps be worthy of investigating the different aspects of closed-mindedness and their relationship with (non)religion.”

This research found that the Christian participants scored higher than the non-religious people on the front of dogmatism while the non-religious had a different story to tell. Atheists displayed a higher intolerance for contradiction which means that when they were showed two apparently contradictory statements, they rated one as being too true and the other too false.

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They also showed greater un-acceptance to arguments contrary to their beliefs and viewpoint.

Uzarevic says that their study depended on some specific “aspect of closed-mindedness”. According to him, “the nonreligious compared to the religious seemed to be less closed minded when it came to explicitly measured certainty in one’s beliefs.” The religious people were more accepting (or rather open to discussion) of diverging and contradictory point of views than the non-religious. Close-mindedness is not something that only religious people can be tagged with. Also, the religious can always “outperform” the non-religious people.

The area of study included 788 adults from the United Kingdom, Spain, and France. The majority of participants reported being atheist i.e. 302 and agnostic being 143. Christians were 255, Muslim 17, Buddhist 17, Jewish 3, and other 51.

However, this study has its limitations because the non-religious are a nebulous category still in its infancy. So the results of the research should be taken for face value and should be approached tentatively.

Also, the field of study was limited to the European nations and it cannot be paraded as being true for the entire globe. Globalizing the area of study could severely impact the findings of Uzarevic. A more organized and large scale research could lead to better and solid results.

The study was also performed online which means that it was difficult to fully control the structure and the sample of the study. But in spite of all the limitations this study has opened new doors for future research and has given some answers to the existing questions or debate about the religious versus non-religious people.


Sources used: Psy Post, Science Direct
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