Dear colleagues,

We invite you to contribute to a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of religiosity manipulations in the laboratory. If you have or are aware of published or unpublished studies that attempt to influence religious beliefs, attitudes or behaviors (broadly defined) please contact us. Details of our request are below.

A recently published meta-analysis by Shariff et al (2015) examined experimental studies in which religiosity is treated as an independent variable that is used to influence a dependent variable (typically altruism). By contrast, our meta-analysis examines studies in which an independent variable (for example, intuitive thinking vs reflective thinking primes) is used to manipulate religiosity as a dependent variable.

We are not only interested in priming studies, but also studies that attempt to manipulate religiosity in other ways too; and we are not only interested in studies that attempt to manipulate religious belief itself, but also religious attitudes and behaviors.

At the bottom of this webpage you can find a full list of relevant published studies that have been identified so far (this list will be updated as colleagues contact us).

If you have or are aware of any potentially relevant published or unpublished studies that don't already appear on this list then we would greatly appreciate it if you could contact Robert Ross:



Many thanks in advance for your assistance.


Best regards,

Robert Ross, Ryan McKay, Gordon Pennycook, Jon Jong, and Jamin Halberstadt


Relevant Papers (updated December 2017):

Addy, P. H., Garcia-Romeu, A., Metzger, M., & Wade, J. (2015). The subjective experience of acute, experimentally-induced Salvia divinorum inebriation. J Psychopharmacol, 29(4), 426-435.

Andersen, M., Nielbo, K. L., Schjoedt, U., & Sørensen, J. (2014). Mystical Experience in the Lab. Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, 26(3), 217-245.

Arrowood, R. B., Coleman III, T., J., Swanson, S. B., Hood Jr, R. W., & Cox, C. R. (2017). Death, quest, and self-esteem: re-examining the role of self-esteem and religion following mortality salience. Religion, Brain and Behavior.

Aydin, N., Fischer, P., & Frey, D. (2010). Turning to God in the face of ostracism: effects of social exclusion on religiousness. Pers Soc Psychol Bull, 36(6), 742-753.

Barrett, F. S., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2015). Validation of the revised Mystical Experience Questionnaire in experimental sessions with psilocybin. J Psychopharmacol, 29(11), 1182-1190.

Burling, J. W. (1993). Death concerns and symbolic aspects of the self: The effects of mortality salience on status concern and religiosity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 19(1), 100-105.

Burris, C. T., & Dow, T. (2015). Lost in theMyst?: Narrative Video Gaming Decreases Self-Reported Propensity for Spiritual/Religious Experience. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 25(1), 18-28.

Burris, C. T., Jackson, L. M., Tarpley, W. R., & Smith, G. J. (1996). Religion as quest: The self-directed pursuit of meaning. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(10), 1068-1076.

Cutright, K. M., Erdem, T., Fitzsimons, G. J., & Shachar, R. (2014). Finding brands and losing your religion? Journal of Experimental Psychology General, 143(6), 2209-2222.

Epley, N., Akalis, S., Waytz, A., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2008). Creating social connection through inferential reproduction. Psychological Science, 19(2), 114-120.

Farias, M., van Mulukom, V., Kahane, G., Kreplin, U., Joyce, A., Soares, P., . . . Möttönen, R. (2017). Supernatural Belief Is Not Modulated by Intuitive Thinking Style or Cognitive Inhibition. Scientific Reports, 7(1).

Fuller, R. C., & Montgomery, D. E. (2015). Body Posture and Religious Attitudes. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 37(3), 227-239.

Gebauer, J. E., & Maio, G. R. (2012). The need to belong can motivate belief in God. J Pers, 80(2), 465-501.

Gervais, W. M., & Norenzayan, A. (2012). Analytic thinking promotes religious disbelief. Science, 336(6080), 493-496.

Greenberg, J., Porteus, J., Simon, L., Pyszczynski, T., & Solomon, S. (1995). Evidence of a terror management function of cultural icons: The effect of morality salience on the inappropriate use cherished cultural symbols. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21(11), 1221-1228.

Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2011). Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects. Psychopharmacology, 218(4), 649-665.

Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2006). Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology, 187(3), 268-283; discussion 284-292.

Hermann, A. D., Lehtman, M. J., Simpson, A. J., & Fuller, R. C. (2015). Does guilt motivate prayer? Journal for the scientific study of religion, 54(3), 540-554.

Holbrook, C., Izuma, K., Deblieck, C., Fessler, D. M., & Iacoboni, M. (2016). Neuromodulation of group prejudice and religious belief. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci, 11(3), 387-394.

Jackson, J. C., Jong, J., Bluemke, M., Poulter, P., Morgenroth, L., & Halberstadt, J. (2017). Testing the causal relationship between religious belief and death anxiety. Religion, Brain & Behavior.

Johnson, M. W., MacLean, K. A., Reissig, C. J., Prisinzano, T. E., & Griffiths, R. R. (2011). Human psychopharmacology and dose-effects of salvinorin A, a kappa opioid agonist hallucinogen present in the plant Salvia divinorum. Drug Alcohol Depend, 115(1-2), 150-155.

Jong, J., Halberstadt, J., & Bluemke, M. (2012). Foxhole atheism, revisited: The effects of mortality salience on explicit and implicit religious belief. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(5), 983-989.

Kay, A. C., Gaucher, D., Callan, M. J., Napier, J. L., & Laurin, K. (2008). God and the government: Testing a compensatory control mechanism for the support of external systems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(1), 18-35.

Kay, A. C., Moscovitch, D. A., & Laurin, K. (2010). Randomness, attributions of arousal, and belief in god. Psychological Science, 21(2), 216-218.

Krauss, S. W., & Flaherty, R. W. (2001). The effects of tragedies and contradictions on religion as quest. Journal for the scientific study of religion, 40(1), 113-122.

Laurin, K., Kay, A. C., & Moscovitch, D. A. (2008). On the belief in God: Towards an understanding of the emotional substrates of compensatory control. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(6), 1559-1562.

Li, Y. J., Cohen, A. B., Weeden, J., & Kenrick, D. T. (2010). Mating competitors increase religious beliefs. Joural of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(2), 428-431.

Lifshin, U., Greenberg, J., Soenke, M., Darrell, A., & Pyszczynski, T. (2017). Mortality salience, religiosity, and indefinite life extension: evidence of a reciprocal relationship between afterlife beliefs and support for forestalling death. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 1-13.

MacLean, K. A., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2011). Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness. J Psychopharmacol, 25(11), 1453-1461.

McGregor, I., Haji, R., Nash, K. A., & Teper, R. (2008). Religious Zeal and the Uncertain Self. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 30(2), 183-188.

McGregor, I., Nash, K., & Prentice, M. (2010). Reactive approach to motivation (RAM) for religion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(1), 148-161.

Minton, E. A. (2015). In Advertising We Trust: Religiosity's Influence on Marketplace and Relational Trust. Journal of Advertising, 44(4), 403-414.

Minton, E. A. (2016). Sacred Attributions: Implications for Marketplace Behavior. Psychology & Marketing, 33(6), 437-448.

Norenzayan, A., & Hansen, I. G. (2006). Belief in supernatural agents in the face of death. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(2), 174-187.

Northover, S. B., Pedersen, W. C., Cohen, A. B., & Andrews, P. W. (2017). Effect of artificial surveillance cues on reported moral judgment: Experimental failures to replicate and two meta-analyses. Evolution and Human Behavior, 38(5), 561-571.

Oman, D., Shapiro, S. L., Thoresen, C. E., Flinders, T., Driskill, J. D., & Plante, T. G. (2007). Learning from Spiritual Models and Meditation: A Randomized Evaluation of a College Course. Pastoral Psychology, 55(4), 473-493.

Oman, D., Thoresen, C. E., Park, C. L., Shaver, P. R., Hood, R. W., & Plante, T. G. (2012). Spiritual modeling self-efficacy. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 4(4), 278-297.

Osarchuk, M., & Tatz, S. J. (1973). Effect of induced fear of death on belief in afterlife. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 27(2), 256-260.

Rand, D. G., Greene, J. D., & Nowak, M. A. (2012). Spontaneous giving and calculated greed. Nature, 489(7416), 427-430.

Rigo, C., Uzarevic, F., & Saroglou, V. (2016). Make love and lose your religion and virtue: Recalling sexual experiences undermines spiritual intentions and moral behavior. Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, 55(1), 23-39.

Rosmarin, D. H., Pargament, K. I., Pirutinsky, S., & Mahoney, A. (2010). A randomized controlled evaluation of a spiritually integrated treatment for subclinical anxiety in the Jewish community, delivered via the Internet. J Anxiety Disord, 24(7), 799-808.

Routledge, C., Abeyta, A. A., & Roylance, C. (2016). Death and end times: the effects of religious fundamentalism and mortality salience on apocalyptic beliefs. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 1-10.

Routledge, C., Roylance, C., & Abeyta, A. A. (2015). Miraculous Meaning: Threatened Meaning Increases Belief in Miracles. Journal of Religion and Health.

Rutjens, B. T., van der Pligt, J., & van Harreveld, F. (2010). Deus or Darwin: Randomness and belief in theories about the origin of life. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(6), 1078-1080.

Rutjens, B. T., van Harreveld, F., van der Pligt, J., van Elk, M., & Pyszczynski, T. (2016). A March to a Better World? Religiosity and the Existential Function of Belief in Social-Moral Progress. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 1-18.

Saroglou, V., Buxant, C., & Tilquin, J. (2008). Positive emotions as leading to religion and spirituality. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3(3), 165-173.

Shariff, A. F., Cohen, A. B., & Norenzayan, A. (2008). The Devil's Advocate: Secular arguments diminish both implicit and explict religious belief. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 8, 417-423.

Shenhav, A., Rand, D. G., & Greene, J. D. (2012). Divine intuition: Cognitive style influences belief in God. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(3), 423-428.

Simpson, A. J., Hermann, A. D., Lehtman, M. J., & Fuller, R. C. (2016). Interpersonal transgressions and interest in spiritual activities: The role of narcissism. Current Psychology, 35, 195-206.

Tracy, J. L., Hart, J., & Martens, J. P. (2011). Death and science: The existential underpinnings of belief in intelligent design and discomfort with evolution. PLOS ONE, 6(3), e17349.

Vail, K. E., 3rd, Arndt, J., & Abdollahi, A. (2012). Exploring the existential function of religion and supernatural agent beliefs among Christians, Muslims, atheists, and agnostics. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(10), 1288-1300.

Valdesolo, P., Park, J., & Gottlieb, S. (2016). Awe and scientific explanation. Emotion.

Van Cappellen, P., Saroglou, V., Iweins, C., Piovesana, M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Self-transcendent positive emotions increase spirituality through basic world assumptions. Cogn Emot, 27(8), 1378-1394.

Van Cappellen, P., Way, B. M., Isgett, S. F., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2016). Effects of oxytocin administration on spirituality and emotional responses to meditation. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci.

van Elk, M. (2015). An EEG Study on the Effects of Induced Spiritual Experiences on Somatosensory Processing and Sensory Suppression. Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion, 2(2), 121-157.

van Elk, M., Rutjens, B. T., van der Pligt, J., & van Harreveld, F. (2014). Priming of supernatural agent concepts and agency detection. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 6(1), 4-33.

Wesselmann, E. D., VanderDrift, L. E., & Agnew, C. R. (2016). Religious commitment: An interdependence approach. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 8(1), 35-45.

Wichman, A. L. (2010). Uncertainty and religious reactivity: Uncertainty compensation, repair, and inoculation. European Journal of Social Psychology, n/a-n/a.

Willer, R. (2009). No atheists in foxholes: Motivated reasoning and religious belief. In J. T. Jost, A. C. Kay, & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.), Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification (pp. 241-264). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Yilmaz, O., & Bahçekapili, H. G. (2015). Without God, everything is permitted? The reciprocal influence of religious and meta-ethical beliefs. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 58, 95-100.

Yilmaz, O., Karadöller, D. Z., & Sofuoglu, G. (2016). Analytic thinking, religion, and prejudice: An experimental test of the dual-process model of mind. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 1-10.

Yonker, J. E., Edman, L. R. O., Cresswell, J., & Barrett, J. L. (2016). Primed analytic thought and religiosity: The importance of individual characteristics. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.