Analytical Thinkers are More Skeptical About Religious Ideas, Research Shows


Four independent sets of studies show that there is a link between analytical thinking and religious disbelief. The results of the studies are described briefly in this post.

The first study (Gervais & Norenzayan, 2012) found that individual differences in analytical thinking  were associated with increased religious disbelief. Also, subtle manipulations known to trigger analytic thinking increased religious disbelief.

The second study (Pennycook et al., 2012) found that analytical thinking was negatively associated with religious and paranormal beliefs (e.g., ghosts, astrology), even when controlling for a number of factors, such as cognitive ability, religious engagement, sex, age, political ideology, and education.

The third study (Shenhav et al., 2012) found that participants who gave more intuitive answers on a cognitive test (The Cognitive Reflection Test) reported stronger belief in God. The effect was true after controlling for various demographic variables, IQ, and different personality factors. Also, experimental manipulations known to trigger intuitive thinking increased religious belief.

Finally, the fourth study (Bouvet & Bonnefon, 2015) found that non-reflective thinkers were more likely than reflective thinkers to accept supernatural explanations after having experienced something uncanny.

If you are interested in knowing more about the research findings, I suggest that you read the original articles. Hopefully, this article gave you some inspiration.

Photo: Geraint Rowland