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POSTPONED - Culture, Evolution, Morality, and the Psychology of Atheism

Will Gervais is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, USA. He is a hybrid evolutionary and cultural psychologist who studies why people believe what they believe in the world. Most of his work focus on atheists: Who are they? How do they become atheists? How are they perceived? Why are they disliked in so much of the world?

Religion is an apparent cross-cultural universal yet is also highly variable across societies and the individuals within them. From a cultural and evolutionary psychological perspective, religion is central to the study of human nature, and widespread religious disbelief represents a necessary testing ground for theories of religion. I’ll present a program of social psychology research developed over the past decade finding widespread negative perceptions of atheists that are primarily driven by intuitive moral distrust (as opposed to other sources), which extends across national and religious boundaries—even evident among avowed atheists. In response to this extreme moral distrust, many atheists probably misrepresent their religious doubts in large-scale polls, skewing the basic observations underpinning prominent theories of religious cognition. Finally, I’ll show some new(ish) data where we try to pit prominent theories against each other in large, nationally representative datasets.

Co-hosted by the Department of Psychology and Religion Programme

Date Monday, 6 April 2020
Time 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Audience Public
Event Category Sciences
Event Type Seminar
LocationWilliam James Seminar Room 103
Contact NameJoanna Ling
Contact Phone+64 3 479 7644

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