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Toward the Scientific Study of Polytheism: Beyond Forced‐Choice Measures of Religious Belief

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This article argues that zero‐sum, forced‐choice approaches to measuring religious belief do not work well outside of the Abrahamic world. Positive‐sum approaches to measuring religious beliefs (in the plural) are better suited to the study of polytheistic societies. Using results from a nationally representative survey conducted in 2011 Taiwan, we demonstrate that in a polytheistic society like Taiwan, religious belief is not zero sum. We also contrast our results with those of the Taiwan Social Change Survey (TSCS), and seek to show that our positive‐sum approach to measuring religious beliefs can help us better understand the disparate causes and consequences of different religious beliefs in polytheistic societies. The challenge of Christocentrism in quantitative studies of religion is also discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute for U.S.-China Issues, University of Oklahoma 2: Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University 3: Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith University

Publication date: December 1, 2012


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