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The Effects of Tragedies and Contradictions on Religion as a Quest

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The present study was designed to investigate the differential influences of exposure to life tragedies and religious contradictions on the tendency to engage in religious questioning (quest orientation). A replication and extension of a study by Burris, Jackson, Tarpley, and Smith (1996) was conducted to determine whether exposure to religious contradictions alone or life tragedies alone would influence quest orientation. Additional experimental conditions attempted to address Batson's (1982) theoretical position that quest orientation results “from a process of cognitive restructuring in response to existential questions” (p. 162). The results replicated Burris et al. (1996) and also showed that exposure to tragedy alone led to increases in quest orientation. The results did not support the idea that exposure to contradictions increased quest orientation. Unexpectedly, some evidence was found that exposure to tragedy influenced extrinsic orientation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Baker University

Publication date: March 1, 2001


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