Does reliance on heuristic information processing predict religiosity? Yes, if one is a liberal, but not so much if one is a conservative . . .
A colleague and I were talking about the relationship between religiosity, conservativism, and scores on the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), and poking around in our data as we did so, and something kind of interesting popped out.
It’s generally accepted that religiosity is associated with greater reliance on heuristic (System 1) as opposed to conscious, effortful (System 2) information processing (Gervais & Norenzyan 2012; Pennycook et al. 2012; Shenhav, Rand & Greene 2012).
But it turns out that that effect is conditional, at least to a fairly significant extent, on political outlooks!
That is, there is a strong negative association with the disposition to use conscious, effortful information processing—as measured by the CRT—and religiosity in liberals.
But the story is different for conservatives. For them, there isn’t much of a relationship at all between the disposition to use System 2 vs. System 1 information processing and religiosity; the most reflective—the ones who score highest on CRT—are about as committed to religion as those who are the most disposed to rely heuristic information processing.
Jeez, what do the 14 billion readers of this blog make of this??
1. As per usual, I measured political outlooks with a standardized scale comprising the (standardized) sums of a 5-point liberal-conservative ideology item and a 7-point partisan identification item (alpha = 0.78); and “religiosity" with standardized scale comprising the (standardized) sum of a 4-point importance of religion item, a 6-point frequency of church attendance item, & a 7-point frequency of prayer item (alpha = 0.88).
2. CRT had a correlation of r = 0.00 with Left_right, which is consistent with what studies using nationally representative samples tend to find (Kahan 2013; Baron 2015).
Baron, J. Supplement to Deppe et al. (2015). Judgment and Decision Making 10, 2 (2015).
Gervais, W.M., Shariff, A.F. & Norenzayan, A. Do you believe in atheists? Distrust is central to anti-atheist prejudice. Journal of personality and social psychology 101, 1189 (2011).
Pennycook, G., Cheyne, J.A., Seli, P., Koehler, D.J. & Fugelsang, J.A. Analytic cognitive style predicts religious and paranormal belief. Cognition 123, 335-346 (2012).