While religious beliefs are typically studied using questionnaires, there are no standardized tools available for cognitive psychology and neuroscience studies of religious cognition. Here we present the first such tool-the Cambridge Psycholinguistic Inventory of Christian Beliefs (CPICB)-which consists of audio-recorded items of religious beliefs as well as items of three control conditions: moral beliefs, abstract scientific knowledge and empirical everyday life knowledge. The CPICB is designed in such a way that the ultimate meaning of each sentence is revealed only by its final critical word, which enables the precise measurement of reaction times and/or latencies of neurophysiological responses. Each statement comes in a pair of Agree/Disagree versions of critical words, which allows for experimental contrasting between belief and disbelief conditions. Psycholinguistic and psychoacoustic matching between Agree/Disagree versions of sentences, as well as across different categories of the CPICB items (Religious, Moral, Scientific, Everyday), enables rigorous control of low-level psycholinguistic and psychoacoustic features while testing higher-level beliefs. In the exploratory Study 1 (N = 20), we developed and tested a preliminary version of the CPICB that had 480 items. After selecting 400 items that yielded the most consistent responses, we carried out a confirmatory test-retest Study 2 (N = 40). Preregistered data analyses confirmed excellent construct validity, internal consistency and test-retest reliability of the CPICB religious belief statements. We conclude that the CPICB is suitable for studying Christian beliefs in an experimental setting involving behavioural and neuroimaging paradigms, and provide Open Access to the inventory items, fostering further development of the experimental research of religiosity.
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FunderJohn Templeton Foundation (grant ID 60936)
- Psycholinguistic inventory
- Reaction times
- Religious cognition
- Scientific knowledge