Religion is commonly defined as a set of rules, developed as part of a culture. Here we provide evidence that practice in following these rules systematically changes the way people attend to visual stimuli, as indicated by the individual sizes of the global precedence effect (better performance to global than to local features). We show that this effect is significantly reduced in Calvinism, a religion emphasizing individual responsibility, and increased in Catholicism and Judaism, religions emphasizing social solidarity. We also show that this effect is long-lasting (still affecting baptized atheists) and that its size systematically varies as a function of the amount and strictness of religious practices. These findings suggest that religious practice induces particular cognitive-control styles that induce chronic, directional biases in the control of visual attention.
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Monday, August 30, 2010
Religion and spatial cognition
The latest Science Magazine 'Editor's choice' points to an interesting bit of work. It is well known that East Asians see visual scenes via a holistic mindset in contrast to the Western style of focusing on salient objects. Variation within these cultural categories (between Chinese and Japanese, for example) can be shown. Colzato et al. have looked at the linkage between religious upbringing and visual perception in three somewhat less heterogeneous populations—neo-Calvinists in the Netherlands, Roman Catholics in Italy, and Orthodox Jews in Israel—and found that adherents of each of these religions differed from atheists of the same cultural background. The Calvinists, whose tradition emphasizes the role of the individual, showed greater visual attentiveness to local features, whereas the big picture perspective was favored by Catholics and Jews, whose traditions stress social togetherness. The abstract:
Posted by Deric Bownds at 5:35 AM
Blog Categories: attention/perception, social cognition
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Very interesting.But which is the evidence and how has been collected? It could be not only religion, but the whole culture of a people that induces particular cognitive styles. What do you think about this. Thank you.ReplyDelete
I'm also a social scientist, and all scientists are sceptical people, so it's actually a good thought and idea to turn scientists' attention to this direction, but if someone mentions "evidence" all scientists jump on it like hungry animals. I like the idea, but as I was reading this written thought I was wondering about a similar thing as Daniela did, what if the people of these cultures bring up their children according to such ideas, concepts, even methods, that they focus their attention to one direction, or a wide spectrum? Some societies are more intertvined with religion which have the possibility to affect the society itself, but then one should always conduct research on these societies from this point of view, to certify if religion does these changes, or it doesn't.ReplyDelete
I'm with Daniela on this, and I'm also a sceptic, as are I think all scientists nowadays, so if someone writes "evidence" all scientists jump on it like hungry animals, so lets see some evidence then! Actually it's also a good idea to get this idea into other scientists heads to make them conduct research on this topic, so if that was your goal, I find it a real good one. It's an thought like C. Geertz' "how is it that believers can believe?" Anyhow my opinion is a similar to Daniela's that maybe the culture - although possible to be influenced by religion, as by many Asian cultures - brings up its children to view a narrower or a wider spectrum, which is applied to a wide spectrum of things, not just pictures, but this same thing is really hard to prove in Western countries, because in many Western countries (if not all) religion steped outside from organising society, so most people could be believers, but the values they get aren't that intertvined by religion anymore, maybe some people who are now in their 80s and still living, it's still a good research idea though. : )ReplyDelete
I'm with Daniela on this, if one mentions "evidence" in a scientific text, one should always add this evidence to the text, 'cause it could happen, that scientists are reading it, and scientists are like hungry animals if they see the word "evidence". If you only wanted to plant this idea into the brains of scientists and see if they conduct research on it, I think it was a really good idea though! Anyhow, my opinion is that some cultures are influenced by their religions, like a lot of Asian ones, but not all of them, 'cause for example in many Western countries religion steped outside from organizing society, so even the values of monoteistic religions aren't always there in the Western world, that could influence the mentality and through it spatial cognition. It's still a great thought, maybe some day I'll take up the mantle and go into the field to conduct a research on it. :)ReplyDelete
The post has a link to the full text of the article, your points are touched on in Section 4. General discussion.ReplyDelete
In spite of their statement "Moreover, as the groups we investigated were matched for sex, IQ, age, educational style, cultural background, and socio-economic situation we can rule out an account of our results in these terms. " I'm not sure that linking religious setting to spatial cognition differences is that convincing.
I just got two further edits of your first comments, so I post both of them.ReplyDelete