Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 2010

School

College of Arts and Sciences

Major

Psychology: Clinical/Experimental

Primary Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Abstract

How does an individual change his or her own religious beliefs when contrary evidence is presented? Cognitive dissonance affects Christian college students’ beliefs about a specific religious practice—speaking in tongues. A four-group between-subjects experimental design was utilized. A news story that objectively examined brain activity of those who speak in tongues was presented to a sample of Christian undergraduate students ranging in their beliefs about the issue of speaking in tongues. Cognitive dissonance was induced in two of the four conditions and its effects were measured by calculating participants’ changes in beliefs. It was hypothesized that dissonant cognitions (contradictory belief-disconfirming information) about personal religious beliefs would cause Christian college students to pursue a dissonance-reduction method that enables self-justification, allowing an individual to adhere or more strongly adhere to his or her pre-existing beliefs. Findings surprisingly did not support this hypothesis. Data also revealed that anti-tongue belief groups altered their beliefs more than pro-tongue belief groups.

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