Does Thinking About God Make it Easier to Exert Self-control?
Jonah Lehrer on religious thoughts and self-control:
People are better able to resist their desires when thinking about God. In a series of clever experiments, Canadian scientists demonstrated that triggering subconscious thoughts of faith increased self-control.
We still don’t know why inklings of religion increase self-control.
The scientists describe thoughts of God as providing the mind with “important psychological nutrients” that “refuel” our inner resources, much like Gatorade replenishes the body after a long run.
But how does religion do this?
The scientists think that faith-based thoughts may increase “self-monitoring” by evoking the idea of an all-knowing, omnipresent God. Previous research, which showed that priming people to think of a vengeful, angry God reduces the likelihood of dishonesty, supports this view. If God is always watching, we better not misbehave.
We need rules
“People need a system of rules to live by,” he says, adding: “People drive slower when they see a police car. God is a bit like that police car: Thinking about Him makes it easier to do the right thing.”
Still curious? Jonah Lehrer is the noteable author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, How We Decide, and Imagine: How Creativity Works.
|Thanks for reading Farnam Street.