Scientific faith: Belief in science increases in the face of stress and existential anxiety

Miguel Farias, Anna Kaisa Newheiser, Guy Kahane, Zoe de Toledo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Growing evidence indicates that religious belief helps individuals to cope with stress and anxiety. But is this effect specific to supernatural beliefs, or is it a more general function of belief - including belief in science? We developed a measure of belief in science and conducted two experiments in which we manipulated stress and existential anxiety. In Experiment 1, we assessed rowers about to compete (high-stress condition) and rowers at a training session (low-stress condition). As predicted, rowers in the high-stress group reported greater belief in science. In Experiment 2, participants primed with mortality (vs. participants in a control condition) reported greater belief in science. In both experiments, belief in science was negatively correlated with religiosity. Thus, some secular individuals may use science as a form of "faith" that helps them to deal with stressful and anxiety-provoking situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1210-1213
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume49
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Belief
  • Belief in science
  • Existential anxiety
  • Religious belief
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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