Psychological Sciences Faculty Publications


Article first published online: 7 OCT 2009

DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.712


Recent research conducted in Western, democratic societies indicates that temporary uncertainty inductions lead to intolerance of religious dissent, increased conviction in religious attitudes, and even increased support for holy war. Past and current conflicts based on religious ideology underscore the danger such responses to uncertainty can pose. This paper responds to the need to learn how to control responses to uncertainty. After having confirmed through pilot testing that uncertainty increases self-report religious faith, two subsequent studies investigate different techniques to control compensatory responses to uncertainty. Study 1 demonstrates that uncertainty-induced increases in religiosity can be eliminated by a post-uncertainty directed positive recall writing task. Study 2 presents evidence for an uncertainty “inoculation”, whereby a pre-uncertainty self-affirmation exercise can protect against uncertainty compensation effects. These findings, in combination with a consideration of previous research, offer insight into how undesirable uncertainty compensation effects might be reduced and even prevented.


Psychology | Social Psychology