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Explaining the Belief in God for Self, In–Group, and Out–Group Targets

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Previous work suggests that people perceive their attitudes and beliefs as deriving from an internal, rational thought process, but not from an emotional process or from external sources. This work has examined explanations for the belief in God using such an attributional approach. The current study examines the explanations individuals give for why (1) they themselves, (2) the group of those who hold the same belief position, or (3) the group of those who hold the opposite position, believe (or not) in God. The attributional dimensions of internality, externality, emotionality, and rationality are used to assess explanations for belief or nonbelief. Believers reported arriving at their own belief position because of an internal, rational process despite the average characterization of the belief in God as less rational and more emotional.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Oxford

Publication date: March 1, 2003


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