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Christianity & Intelligence Essay

1037 words - 4 pages

Christianity & Intelligence

Reed College has been widely regarded as a campus with a pro-atheist sentiment and an anti-religious outlook of the world. T-shirts that display the seal of the college advertise atheism as a concept of paramount importance. The aim of this psychological study was to determine whether students of Reed College implicitly associated Christianity with unintelligence and atheism with intelligence. Numerous Implicit Association Tests (IAT’s) have been used to determine whether or not people have underlying biases toward particular racial or social groups. Based on the speed of responses when associated with one ethnic group or another, one is able to determine just what sort of hidden biases may exist in the mind of the subject. Especially intriguing in this case is the idea that Christians may be construed as less intelligent than atheists on Reed’s campus. How does this construal, if present, affect diversity at Reed and the acceptance of various social and religious groups? Is there a certain degree to which individuals who cherish religious beliefs are ignored due to their association with Christianity? The goal of this study is to make a determination as to whether there is an association with intelligence and belief in a Christian God. This study will determine whether this association, if existent, is explicit or implicit, or both. Using an IAT, we will present various words associated with atheism and Christianity in addition to words associated with intelligence and stupidity. My hypothesis is that there will be a certain degree of underlying bias that views Christians as less intelligent individuals than atheists.

The participants for this study were twelve students in the Intro Psychology class at Reed College. Of the twelve, five were male and seven were female. Each participant was asked their gender, their year at Reed, and what sort of religious affiliation and background they had before the beginning of the test. The test then consisted of the introduction of initial target-concept discrimination. Words associated with Christianity were ‘believer,’ ‘Christianity,’ ‘God,’ ‘Christian’ and ‘Jesus,’ while those associated with atheism were ‘atheism,’ atheist, ‘non-believer,’ and two symbols consisting of the words ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ with a line through them. In order to determine implicit associations, words linked with intelligent and not-intelligent were introduced in the form of associated attribute discriminations. The initial combined task had two scenarios for which one was normal and the other counterbalanced. The counterbalanced participants associated Christian words with words for intelligence while associating atheism with non-intelligence. The case was reversed for the normal group of participants. The reason for the normal and counterbalanced participants was to account for the possibility that some participants may more easily associate things with a particular side of the screen or a...

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