Cognitive bias

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A cognitive bias is a tendency for a mind to misinterpret information in particular situations. There are may types of cognitive biases. Religious belief may be largely explained in terms of human psychology, evolution and cognitive biases.

"Atheism will always be a harder sell than religion [...] because a slew of cognitive traits predispose us to faith. [1]"

An intuitive style of thinking has been found to predict more belief in God [2], as well as less skepticism. [3] Inducing people to think analytically temporarily reduces their religiosity. [4] Acceptance of dualism and, to a lesser extent, teleological thinking were found to predispose people to religious belief. [5]

"The data were most consistent with a path model suggesting that mentalizing comes first, which leads to dualism and teleology, which in turn lead to religious, paranormal, and life’s-purpose beliefs. [5]"

Cognitive biases relevant to religious belief

See also


  1. Boyer, P (2008) Religion: Bound to Believe?] Nature vol 455: 1038-39.
  2. Shenhav, Rand, and Greene (2012)
  3. Pennycook, Cheyne, Seli, Koehler, and Fugelsang (2012)
  4. Gervais and Norenzayan (2012), Shenhav et al. (2012)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Aiyana K. Willard, Ara Norenzayan, Cognitive biases explain religious belief, paranormal belief, and belief in life’s purpose, Cognition, Volume 129, Issue 2, November 2013, Pages 379–391
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