Examining the relationship between religion and thought-action fusion in a Protestant sample
Author ORCID Identifier
Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Research has established that individuals who belong to different religious affiliations may differ on levels of thought-action fusion (TAF), a cognitive bias heavily implicated in obsessive-compulsive symptoms. However, research has relied on correlational methods and comparisons primarily have been between broad religious groups and not targeted aspects of religious beliefs or teachings. In our study, 99 Protestant undergraduates were randomly assigned to one of two priming conditions: reading and writing about a forgiving or a punishing God. Participants then completed a behavioral TAF task that induces an obsession-like thought, after which in vivo responses were measured. Comparisons between the forgiving God (FG) and punishing God (PG) conditions revealed that those in the PG condition were higher on in vivo anxiety and urge to neutralize. However, there were no differences on in vivo moral wrongness ratings or on neutralizing behavior. Findings provided mixed support for the salience of a punishing God concept as an influence on elevated TAF in Protestant individuals. The study was limited by a sample with a strong baseline view of God as forgiving, which likely limited the effectiveness of the God concept prime. Other limitations and observations are addressed to inform the methodology of future research.
Experimental design, God concepts, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Thought-action fusion
Younce, Johanna A. and Wu, Kevin D., "Examining the relationship between religion and thought-action fusion in a Protestant sample" (2020). NIU Bibliography. 458.
Department of Psychology