This is the fourth in our series of posts intended to help our readers with their New Year’s resolutions. From USA Today, here is a brief description of research recently co-authored by Kristin Laurin and Situationist Contributors Aaron Kay and Gráinne Fitzsimons .
God references slipped into tests decreased student’s belief that they controlled their own destiny, researchers report, but made them more resistant to junk food temptation.
In the current Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study, six experiments on engineering students, researchers led by Kristin Laurin of Canada’s University of Waterlooo reported that just mentioning the Supreme Being in tests affected student self-perceptions and self-control, regardless of their fundamental religious views.
In the first set of tests, the research team gave half the students word-game type-tasks, telling them the tests were indicators of future achievement. Half the tests included references to religion in the sentences read by the students, while the rest contained reference to merely pleasant things, such as the sun, instead.
The result? Religion references dropped student views significantly on how much they felt in control of their careers.
However, in the last three experiments the team slipped religious references into similar tasks tests, but then checked student ability to resist junk food and sweets.
The result? Religion references increased the student’s ability to resist temptation. Most remarkable, the effect seemed independent of the depth of the engineers’ piety.
Given how often religious references crop up in daily life, the study authors suggest that they may play a role in even the most godless person’s psychology, and call for more research to confirm their finding.
(Citation: Laurin, K., Kay., A. C., & Fitzsimons, G. M. (in press). Divergent effects of activating thoughts of god on self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology – pdf available here.)
For more on the situation of eating, see Situationist contributors Adam Benforado, Jon Hanson, and David Yosfion’s law review article Broken Scales: Obesity and Justice in America. For a listing of numerous Situaitonist posts on the situational sources of obesity, click here.
Related Situationist posts:
- The Fundamental(ist) Attribution Error
- With God on Our Side . . .
- The Situation of Political and Religious Beliefs?
- Seeing Faces,
- Self-Fulfilling Doomsday Prophecies
- The Stressful Situation of Religious Zealotry
- Holier Than Thou,
- Think Progress or Die, and
- The Situation of Faith in God or Science,.