Would Exposure to Any Religious Symbol Make Us Less Comfortable With Ambiguity?

As we argue in our article, the more a religion is associated with dichotomy (e.g., teachings promoting a clear distinction between right vs. wrong, or sinful vs. virtuous), the more likely it is that a reminder of that religion makes us uncomfortable with ambiguity. Thus, it depends on the respective typical associations people hold with a certain religion or with a specific symbol.

For example, it is conceivable that some symbolic reminders of a religion make us less tolerant of ambiguity while other symbols of the same religion do not change our reaction to ambiguous information because each leads people to think about different aspects of that religion, or even something completely unrelated to the religion it originates from. Furthermore, it could very well be that religions that emphasize similar dichotomous distinctions in their doctrine activate similar thinking styles whereas other belief systems may render completely different norms accessible and therefore also impact the way we think and behave very differently.

Christina Sagioglou is a graduate student in psychology at the University of Innsbruck.

Category: Q&A

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