Message 1 of 2 (450087)
01-20-2008 3:00 PM
And it was not good for the creature to be alone...
A recent study conducted at the University of Chicago found that people are more likely to believe in supernatural beings when they are lonely.
The same state of loneliness that increases belief in supernatural beings also leads to an increase in the tendency to ascribe human attributes to animals and objects. When human beings lack companionship, the study suggests, we invent it.
As reported in ScienceDaily (20 January):
The researchers designed three experiments to test their expectations that lonely people are more likely to make up for their lack of social connection by creating humanlike connections with gadgets or pets, or to increase their belief in the supernatural.
In one experiment, the team found a correlation between how lonely people felt and their tendency to describe a gadget in terms of humanlike mental states.
In another experiment, the team made people feel lonely in the laboratory by asking them to write about a time when they felt lonely or isolated. Under those circumstances, they were more likely to believe in the supernatural, whether it be God, angels or miracles, than when they were not feeling lonely.
. . . .
The research further revealed that not just any negative emotional state produces this effect. "It's something special about loneliness," [Nicholas] Epley [of the University of Chicago] said. Fear, for example, doesn't increase reported belief in God, or how people describe their pets.
Loneliness is both painful to experience and potentially deadly. "It's actually a greater risk for morbidity or mortality than cigarette smoking is. Being lonely is a bad thing for you," he said.
The full ScienceDaily story appears here:
All species are transitional.