Cross-cultural support for a link between analytic thinking and disbelief in god: evidence from India and the United Kingdom

Michael N. Stagnaro, Robert M. Ross, Gordon Pennycook, David G. Rand

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28 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


A substantial body of evidence suggests that favoring reason over intuition (employing an analytic cognitive style) is associated with reduced belief in God. In the current work, we address outstanding issues in this literature with two studies examining the relationship between analytic cognitive style (as measured by performance on the Cognitive Reflection Test) and belief in God. First, prior research focused on Judeo-Christian cultures, and it is uncertain whether the results generalize to other religious systems or beliefs. Study 1 helps to address this question by documenting a negative correlation between CRT performance and belief in God, r = −.18, in a sample of 513 participants from India, a majority Hindu country. Second, among 150 participants from the United Kingdom, Gervais et al. (2018) reported the first and (to date) only evidence for a positive relationship between CRT and belief in God. In Study 2, we assess the robustness of this result by recruiting 547 participants from the United Kingdom. Unlike Gervais et al., using the same items, we find a negative correlation between CRT and belief in God (r = −.19). Our results add further support to the argument that analytic thinking undermines belief in God.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Analytic thinking
  • Belief in God
  • Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT)
  • Cognitive style


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