Autobiographical Memory Specificity for Religious and Nonreligious Cues

A Comparison between Atheists, Christians, and Religiously Uncommitted People in Sweden

Authors

  • Nathalie Hallin Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University
  • Paola Törnaeus Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University
  • Wadad Mahmud Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University
  • Gerhard Andersson Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry Section, Karolinska Institutet

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jcsr.40903

Keywords:

autobiographical memory, religion, memory specificity, culture

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate religious autobiographical memories by having self-reported atheist, Christian, and religiously uncommitted Swedes perform the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) with added religious word blocks. The specific aims are to investigate (1) possible group differences in memory specificity, (2) whether positive or negative cue words evoked a larger number of specific memories, and (3) whether participants produced a larger number of specific memories in response to religious or nonreligious cue words. Sisty participants were included, with twenty in each group (atheists, uncommitted, and Christians). No group differences in memory specificity were found. However, positive and nonreligious cue words were associated with a larger number of specific memories. The possibility of using AMT to study cultural differences is discussed.

Author Biographies

Nathalie Hallin, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University

PhD student, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning (IBL), Linköping University

Paola Törnaeus, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University

M.Sc.

Wadad Mahmud, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University

M.Sc.

Gerhard Andersson, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry Section, Karolinska Institutet

Professor in Psychology, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning (IBL), Linköping University

References

Andersson, Gerhard. 2016. “Atheism and How It Is Perceived: Manipulation of, Bias against and Ways to Reduce the Bias.” Nordic Psychology 68(3): 194–203. https://doi.org/10.1080/19012276.2015.1125304

Bluck, Susan. 2003. “Autobiographical Memory: Exploring Its Functions in Everyday Life.” Memory 11(2): 113–123. https://doi.org/10.1080/741938206

Conway, Martin A. and Christopher W. Pleydell-Pearce. 2000. “The Construction of Autobiographical Memories in the Self-Memory System.” Psychological Review 107(2): 261–288. https://doi.org/10.1037//0033-295X.107.2.261

EVS. 2020. European Values Study 2017: Integrated Dataset (EVS 2017). ZA7500 Data file Version 4.0.0. Cologne: GESIS Data Archive. https://doi.org/10.4232/1.13560

Granqvist, Pehr and Jakob Moström. 2014. “There Are Plenty of Atheists in Foxholes – in Sweden.” Archive for the Psychology of Religion 36(2): 199–213. https://doi.org/10.1163/15736121-12341285

Gruneau Brulin, Joel, Peter C. Hill, Kristin Laurin, Mario Mikulincer and Pehr Granqvist. 2018. “Religion vs. the Welfare State – the Importance of Cultural Context for Religious Schematicity and Priming.” Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 10(3): 276–287. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000200

Harris, Paul L. and Melissa A. Koenig. 2006. “Trust in Testimony: How Children Learn About Science and Religion.” Child Development 77(3): 505–524. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00886.x

Inglehart, Ronald, Christian Haerpfer, Alejandro Moreno, Christian Welzel, Kseniya Kizilova, Jaime Diez-Medrano, Marta Lagos, Pippa Norris, Eduard Ponarin and Bi Puranen, eds. 2014. World Values Survey: Round Six – Country-Pooled Datafile Version. Madrid: JD Systems Institute. http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSDocumentationWV6.jsp

King, Pamela Ebstyne. 2003. “Religion and Identity: The Role of Ideological, Social, and Spiritual Contexts.” Applied Developmental Science 7(3): 197–204. https://doi.org/10.1207/S1532480XADS0703_11

Norris, Pippa and Ronald Inglehart. 2011. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Raes, Filip, Dirk Hermans, J. Mark G. Williams and Paul Eelen. 2007. “A Sentence Completion Procedure as an Alternative to the Autobiographical Memory Test for Assessing Overgeneral Memory in Non-Clinical Populations.” Memory 15(5): 495–507. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658210701390982

Saroglou, Vassilis, Vanessa Delpierre and Rebecca Dernelle. 2004. “Values and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis of Studies Using Schwartz’s Model.” Personality and Individual Differences 37: 721–734. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2003.10.005

Sosis, Richard and Candace Alcorta. 2003. “Signaling, Solidarity, and the Sacred: The Evolution of Religious Behavior.” Evolutionary Anthropology 12(6): 264–274. https://doi.org/10.1002/evan.10120

Thurfjell, David. 2015. Det Gudlösa Folket. Stockholm: Molin & Sorgenfrei.

van Mulukom, Valerie. 2017. “Remembering Religious Rituals: Autobiographical Memories of High-Arousal Religious Rituals Considered from a Narrative Processing Perspective.” Religion, Brain & Behavior 7(3): 191–205. https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2016.1232304

van Vreeswijk, Michiel F. and Erik Jan De Wilde. 2004. “Autobiographical Memory Specificity, Psychopathology, Depressed Mood and the Use of the Autobiographical Memory Test: A Meta-Analysis.” Behaviour Research and Therapy 42(6): 731–743.

Wildman, Wesley J., Richard Sosis and Patrick McNamara. 2012. “The Scientific Study of Atheism.” Religion, Brain & Behavior 2(1): 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2012.668394

Williams, J. Mark G. 2003. Autobiographical Memory Test Scoring Manual. Unpublished.

Williams, J. Mark G., Thorsten Barnhofer, Catherine Crane, Dirk Herman, Filip Raes, Ed Watkins and Tim Dalgleish. 2007. “Autobiographical Memory Specificity and Emotional Disorder.” Psychological Bulletin 133(1): 122–148. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.122

Win-Gallup International Poll. 2012. “Global Index of Religion and Atheism.” Press release. https://www.sidmennt.is/wp-content/uploads/Gallup-International-um-tr%C3%BA-og-tr%C3%BAleysi-2012.pdf

Xygalatas, Dimitris, Uffe Schjoedt, Joseph Bulbulia, Ivana Konvalinka, Else-Marie Jegindø, Paul Reddish, Armin W. Geertz and Andreas Roepstorff. 2013. “Autobiographical Memory in a Fire-Walking Ritual.” Journal of Cognition and Culture 13(1): 1–16.

Zuckerman, Phil. 2006. “Atheism: Contemporary Numbers and Patterns.” In Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, edited by Michael Martin, 47–66. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Published

2020-12-31

How to Cite

Hallin, N., Törnaeus, P., Mahmud, W., & Andersson, G. (2020). Autobiographical Memory Specificity for Religious and Nonreligious Cues: A Comparison between Atheists, Christians, and Religiously Uncommitted People in Sweden. Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion, 5(2), 224–237. https://doi.org/10.1558/jcsr.40903