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Apocalypse now? The relevance of religion for beliefs about the end of the world

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This study considers how religious individuals may be more likely to entertain doomsday scenarios, such as the December 21, 2012 Mayan prophecy, particularly when juxtaposed with the occurrence of several recent adverse and cataclysmic events. One hundred forty two undergraduates were asked to assess their belief as to whether they believed that December 21, 2012 represents an Apocalypse or the ‘End of the World’ before and after writing and thinking about four troubling seminal events from the past several years (9/11, the economic crisis, Hurricane Katrina, and Middle East tensions). Self-identified religious subjects were significantly more likely than non-religious subjects to believe that they would personally witness the end of the world. Moreover, of the four events described above, Middle East tensions were deemed to be the event that could potentially signify or bring about the ‘end of the world’. The larger implications of this study are further addressed.
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Keywords: apocalyptic thinking; religiosity; social cognition; social perception

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology,Kent State University, East LiverpoolOhio, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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