God: Do I have your attention? Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Religion is commonly defined as a set of rules, developed as part of a culture. Here we provide evidence that practice in following these rules systematically changes the way people attend to visual stimuli, as indicated by the individual sizes of the global precedence effect (better performance to global than to local features). We show that this effect is significantly reduced in Calvinism, a religion emphasizing individual responsibility, and increased in Catholicism and Judaism, religions emphasizing social solidarity. We also show that this effect is long-lasting (still affecting baptized atheists) and that its size systematically varies as a function of the amount and strictness of religious practices. These findings suggest that religious practice induces particular cognitive-control styles that induce chronic, directional biases in the control of visual attention.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010