Religious Diversity Made Salient to Religious Individuals: Predictors of Exclusivist and Inclusivist Responses

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This study examined how religious individuals respond when forced to think about religious diversity. The 71 participants (52 females, 19 males; mean age = 40.94, SD = 22.75) completed quantitative measures of religious commitment, feelings of spiritual well-being, epistemological style, need for cognitive closure, and personal dogmatism. Furthermore, participants wrote a response after reading several Koran and Bible verses, with each verse claiming that its religion is the only way to salvation; they then also wrote about what the phrase “religious diversity” means to them, and their feelings about such diversity. Qualitative thematic coding of responses to the verses and diversity question revealed that participants fell into one of three groups: religious exclusivists, religious inclusivists, or “other” (e.g., those claiming that no religion is true). Current practitioners of any religious tradition were likely to be exclusivist; high level of involvement in or commitment to a religion, and feelings of spiritual well-being, also correlated with exclusivism. Additionally, exclusivists tended to be intrinsically motivated in their religion – i.e., they practiced religion for its inherent value rather than for personal or social benefits. Inclusivists were the least likely to report a need to avoid ambiguities in one’s personal epistemology. Education level did not differ among the three groups, but those with less education were more likely to refuse to respond to the verses or the diversity question (or both); personal dogmatism also correlated with refusal to respond.


Keywords: Religion, Pluralism, Epistemology
Stream: Psychology, Cognitive Science and Behavioural Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Eric Marx

Lecturer in Psychology, School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Eric Marx is an American developmental psychologist who has been teaching in Australia since 2000 (and thoroughly enjoying the antipodean life). His teaching/research specialties are moral development/cognition, development of self-awareness/concept (and its relation to moral thought), philosophy and history of psychology (with a particular fondness for William James and the pragmatist school), and research methodology/statistics. With degrees in philosophy, theology, and psychology, his research often extends across disciplines (he is sometimes reluctant to call himself a psychologist), and he has taught courses in all three areas. In the evening he likes nothing better than to relax with his beloved 1973 Gibson ES 335 guitar (sunburst pattern) and lay down a few simple (amateur) jazz riffs -- and consider their relation to the moral endeavour.

Jessica Stevens

Affiliation not supplied
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Ref: I08P0308