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Secularization and Religiosity: A Computational Psychological Perspective

Rigoli, F. ORCID: 0000-0003-2233-934X (2023). Secularization and Religiosity: A Computational Psychological Perspective. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 33, pp. 3-20. doi: 10.1163/9789004544574_002


The influence of secularization upon religiosity remains hotly debated: some scholars conclude that secularization bolsters faith while others claim the opposite. We contribute to this literature by investigating the psychological mechanisms through which secularization might affect religiosity. These processes have been rarely examined, yet their understanding is fundamental. First, we dissect the concept of secularization into its components, identified as presence of lay (and not religious) ruling institutions, prevalence of economic (and not traditional) ties, religious tolerance, widespread scientific culture, and religious heterogeneity. Second, the notion of religiosity is re-casted as a tendency to interpret events in religious versus non-religious terms. Third, we introduce a computational theory about the psychological mechanisms underlying religiosity, which provides the basis for analysing how secularization might influence religiosity. The emerging picture is multifaceted, as different elements are predicted to exert different influences. Secularization of ruling institutions and scientific culture are predicted to suppress religiosity, whereas emergence of economic ties is predicted to bolster religiosity. The influence of religious tolerance is predicted to depend on the perceived strength of the regime. Finally, religious diversity is predicted to be uninfluential. Altogether, this paper highlights insights offered by a computational psychological perspective about the impact of secularization over religiosity.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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