Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Religious motivation

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Religious motivation:
What motivates people to believe in religion?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Figure 1. Religious Statue[Provide more detail]

Throughout human history, there have been many great achievements made with religious motivations. Philosophy, the Arts and civilizations have all been built with the underpinning of religion. However, the Holocaust, the Crusades and the September 11 terror attacks have shown that religious motivation can lead people to commit terrible atrocities.

The purpose of this book chapter topic is to provide an academic understanding of religious motivations which help or hinder humanity in remarkable ways. The case studies and journal articles will elaborate on the motivational theory behind religious belief, its problems and benefits, and what sustains or inhibits these beliefs. The chapter addresses some of the most important questions about religious motivation such as:

  1. What do the motivational theories ascribe religious belief to?
  2. What theories of motivation maintain religious belief
  3. What causes religious belief to cease?

This book chapter includes examples of the monotheistic, Abrahamic religions (e.g., Judaism, Christianity and Islam) as well as less commonly heard perspectives from polytheistic religions (e.g. Buddhism, Shintoism, and Hinduism). In contrast to other book chapters[provide links], it will not discuss religiosity as a fanatic or cultist belief. Instead, it will focus on a more moderate and benign aspect of religiosity to which the vast majority of religious people belong.

What are the motivational theories behind religious beliefs?

What theories of motivation maintain religious beliefs?

What causes religious belief to stop?

What is religion?[edit | edit source]

Figure 2. Religious Demographics[Provide more detail]

Religion is a famously complicated subject to define with many different scholars failing to come up with a suitable definition. The most pertinent definition defines it as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs" (BBC, 2020). It is this definition of religion that the book chapter will be based on.

What are the different types of religions?[edit | edit source]

There are an estimated 10,000 religions in the world with the vast majority (84%) of religious people are adhering to Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism (Pew Research, 2017). This book chapter will be based around the three Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. See inset for religious demographics chart.

How did religion originate?[edit | edit source]

There is still a rigorous, ongoing debate on the origins of religion. It is not clear if religion is exclusive to humans, as there have been recorded instances of other primates engaging in communal rituals. However, the most reliable anthropological research we have to confirm organized religious beliefs aligns when humans first engaged in writing in around 3200 BC.

Why do we have a creation myth?[edit | edit source]

Anthropologists have long suggested that there was a need for religious belief as communities grew larger. Shared religious beliefs would be useful to enhance cooperation and trust between members who may not be related or close to everyone, as communities grew larger than 150 people. There is also the unique cognitive ability Homo sapiens have, in that we can imagine things collectively, whereas our ancestors did not possess this skill-set (Harri, 2015). According to Pyysiäinen and Hauser (2010), "several authors have argued that religion, especially god beliefs, has emerged as an adaptation designed to facilitate intra-group cooperation" (p. 104). However, their research led them to conclude that moral intuition or decision making evolved prior to the emergence of religion. The authors questioned why individuals would make such terrible sacrifices for the benefit of those that were not part of their immediate family tree or close friendship group. Their central thesis was that "the specific, high level of cooperation observed among human populations is only possible because we evolved moral intuitions about norm-consistent and inconsistent actions, and thus, intuitive judgments of right and wrong" (p. 104). Furthermore, all major religions have similar moral principles,such as, the principle of treating others as you want to be treated, otherwise known as the Golden Rule. Religion is believed to have evolved after it emerged from natural cognitive processes, to exert its own pressure on people’s moral judgments.The emergence of religion is thought to be beneficial to ancient societies, however, the question still remains what would motivate an individual in the modern world to be motivated towards religious beliefs?

What is motivation?[edit | edit source]

Motivation is a psychological phenomenon that leads one to be moved and to achieve specific goals and aims (Bilgin, 2003; Ryan and Deci, 2000). Thus, it can be said that motivation encourages desire, excitement and the interests of an individual for her/his life, creating positive results from his acts. Motivation supports people to carry out their imaginations and provides energy and desire for them (Shinn, 1996). People with high motivation levels access their point target and achieve their goals more easily and successfully. Briefly, motivation has an undeniable impact on human beings, to satisfy ones[grammar?] needs, desires and be a successful and contented person (Guven & Metin, 2013).

Modern motivational theory[edit | edit source]

Earlier psychologists tried to explain human motivation. They did so in the hope of finding universal motivators, in search of a grand theory. Most had some version of drives or instincts. These were seen as the universal forces that drove human behaviour. The behaviour that was elicited was seen as somehow satisfying the instinct or leading to drive reduction. However that proved to be a fruitless pursuit. It led to either great knowledge about a minor topic (e.g., behaviour of thirsty rats) or a proliferation of so called instincts and circular reasoning (e.g,. he smoked because of his instinct to smoke. How do we know he has an instinct to smoke? Because he smokes). Such an approach was unscientific as it could not be subject to empirical evaluation.

Modern motivation theory has more modest aims. It aims to explore socially important behaviours, to understand what increases or decreases such behaviour. To do so it also proposes theories that can be tested.

This chapter will briefly outline modern motivation theory and its relevance to religious motivation. It will conclude with some answers to the following questions in figure 3.

Figure 3. Religious questions[Provide more detail]

Modern motivational theory suggests there are different ways to understand motivation. These include extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators, both of which can be analyzed into further informative sub categories.

Extrinsic motivators of religious beliefs[edit | edit source]

Extrinsic motivation comes from the natural incentives we have in our environment and the consequences we face in our day-to-day lives. Examples include: finances, food, water, praise and awards. Extrinsic motivation comes from the behavioral contract that is most simply described as "do this, to get that" or "what is in this for me?". When a boss or teacher is looking for a way to motivate and or encourage behavior, the easiest way to do this is to encourage with an environmental incentive.

Like most aspects of one's personal identity, religion is one that the majority of people are born into. It is rarer for an individual, in most cultures, to come to a religious belief outside what one's family has prescribed for them (Bengsten, 2013). Only a small number of people choose their religious identity after a process of searching and deliberating, outside their family of origin[factual?]. Once individuals have acquired a religious identity, they discover that they have also acquired a system of beliefs that is tied to that identity. In other words, religious identity refers to the religious culture that a person belongs to, with culture being defined as “a set of shared beliefs, values, behavioral norms, and practices that characterize a particular group of people who share a common identity and the symbolic meanings of a common language” (Lefley, 2002, p. 4). This book chapter looks into what makes an individual turn to a religion outside their promoted family religion and what keeps an individual religious in terms of their own families[grammar?] religion.

Jenson and Gibbons (2002) co-authored a qualitative study of ex-prisoners and studied the impact that religiosity had on their chances of rehabilitation. The study concluded that "the combination of religiosity and shame does provide a buffer from further criminal activity" (p. 223). The results of their in-depth analysis has important implications for the motivation of religious people to maintain a productive and virtuous life. The religions that are assessed in this book chapter look at to provide a common extrinsic motivator. That is, they reward the virtuousness of the individual whether it be in this life or the next. The study itself notably incorporated a wide range of different ethnic groups and an admittedly smaller ratio of male to female [grammar?] it is here that we need to address that there demographic factors such as income, gender or race and the environment that you're raised in that can decrease or increase religious belief. It is always worth noting the complexity of religious belief and how it occurs differently between socioeconomic groups, gender and ethnicity.

Religion as meaning[edit | edit source]

There is a quest for meaning that motivates religious people and secular people alike. This involves an attempt to explain and justify the orthodoxy of the present day. Religion provides a way for people to participate in society and derive values from it. This participation can involve legitimization of social structures and traditions by means of explanations and justifications for the social status quo (e.g., “God rewards those who live a good life”). Hence, religiosity may be associated with prejudice if religion justifies existing inequalities. Suggestive of this possibility is data indicating that religiosity is associated with endorsement of a variety of conservative social values. For example, in an analysis of values among participants in four Western religions, greater self-reported religiosity was associated with higher importance placed on conservative value domains (e.g., tradition and conformity), and lower importance placed on openness to change values (e.g., self-direction and stimulation) (Hunsberger & Jackson, 2005).

Evidence of religiosity and academic performances[edit | edit source]

Researchers have investigated the intrinsic motivations of religion on students' academic study. A study by Daw (2018) reported a strong correlation between religion and academic success. These benefits also extended to positive effects on leadership, engagement and interpersonal skills. An extrinsic personal orientation towards religion had the most significant positive impact on academic motivation factors (e.g. the motivation to know, to be accomplished and to experience stimulation). Individuals who orient themselves with extrinsic personal orientation towards religion value religion as a source of protection, consolation and comfort (Daw, 2018). The reason why people maintain their religious beliefs could be due to the perceived benefits that religiosity has on individuals and groups in a myriad of different ways, including academic performance.

Case studies[edit | edit source]

Figure.4 Image of cargo cult[explain?]

This fascinating ethnographic case study (How cancer patients use religious beliefs as coping mechanisms. Motivation for autonomy.) involves six participants undergoing cancer treatment in different stages of life and with different backgrounds. Although the sample size is small, it provides a stark picture of how cancer is given a mental representation of evilness and viewed as a trial to overcome by those patients with religious beliefs. One participant speaks freely about how cancer is a punishment for the wrongs she did during her life. Another sufferer dismisses alcohol and smoking as the cause of his cancer and determines that it is his moral failings. In conclusion, the author highlights the importance of faith among cancer patients and its role in motivating them to place their own personal experiences and autonomy into the seemingly random experience of cancer which has afflicted billions of people.

Negotiating a Religious Identity:The Case of the Gay Evangelical

Throughout the course of ones[grammar?] life there will be many instances where one has conflicting cognitions that result in a negative emotion. The most germane example stems from the religious LGBT community and their experiences of practicing a religious faith that expresses disdain and condemnation for their beliefs. This is found in all the Abrahamic religions and certain eastern religions as well. On the surface level, it would seem inharmonious to be religious and identify as a practicing member of the LGBT community. The way in which this is resolved is, according to Anderton and colleagues (2011), to closely align themselves to those that express similar beliefs. They intentionally seek out only those people who would be supportive of these new cognitions (gay community or gay allies) and avoid those people who don't in order to resolve the conflict between their religious identity and sexual orientation identity. If the individual maintains that leading a gay lifestyle is a sin and harmful to his or her own spirituality, they could purposefully avoid people or situations that go against this belief. This could be done by only listening to progressive, pro-gay pastors or religious people. Alternatively, they could present themselves as 'spiritually minded', thus reducing their cognitive dissonance whilst keeping some aspect of their faith intact.

Cargo Cults

Although not technically a religion there is still much to learn from the curious case of cargo cults. Originating in post-second war Melanesia after the US troops had ceased to land their large cargo planes on these geographically important islands there was the birth of a fascinating ceremony. It was recorded that the natives of these tiny, remote islands revered these planes and, more importantly, the canned beef the 'gods' delivered. After the war, when planes stopped visiting these islands, the inhabitant created shrines of the planes, engaging in ritualistic behaviour in the hopes that these planes would return. It is an interesting example of how religion can be brought to a people simply by having a higher standard of living in comparison to them. It has been said that this is how Christianity was spread and embraced by many people around the world. The European Christians simply had the better technology and were therefore worshiped.

Motivation for aggressive religious radicalization

In a study of the most extreme cases of religious belief involving violent fanaticism, motivational theory explored the willingness for individuals to participate in these groups (McGregor, Hayes, & Prentice, 2015). If participants were already idealistic and conscientious, then it was theorized that they would be more susceptible to groups that prey on these supposed weaknesses. The authors proposed that identity-weak people (i.e. morally bewildered) "acquire an externally referenced sense of identity, purpose, belonging or spiritual fulfillment" (p.6) when they participate in simplistic, black and white ideologies. This is an important reminder of the negative, insidious influence that religious fundamentalism can have on naive individuals.

Intrinsic motivators[edit | edit source]

Modern motivation theory leads to a discussion of psychological needs. This way of thinking derives from the observation that people are inherently active (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Some activities seem to tap into our psychological needs. These are activities in which we feel an interest not because of external rewards, but due to the activity in and of itself.

Motivation theory suggests that understanding human behaviour is enhanced by considering external rewards and explicit psychological needs. However, this understanding is enhanced when hidden or unconscious motives are considered.

Some of an individual’s psychological needs may be readily understood and articulated by that person. However, there may also be some motives which are not readily accessible to the person. For instance a person may say “I like a challenge”,  that is they claim to be achievement-oriented. However, when confronted with a challenging situation they may become afraid and avoidant. In other words, they have an explicit claim to being achievement-oriented but not an implicit claim. Implicit motives are considered better predictors than explicit ones (McClelland & Koester, 1989).

Self-determination theory[edit | edit source]

Self-determination theory (SDT) is based on ones[grammar?] ability to develop and change according to the three innate qualities of autonomy, competence and relatedness. This is how we understand what motivates human behavior without having to be concerned about external forces. "In SDT, intrinsic motivation refers to the enactment of an activity in the absence of external incentives; a behavior is performed for no other reason than the feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment it brings. For instance, when a person attends a seminar on a religious theme purely for personal feelings of interest and fulfillment, the activity is said to be intrinsically motivated." (Neyrinck et al. 2010. p,427).

Intrinsically minded religious people are, according to Allport (1966), doing so because they see "religion as an ultimate end in itself; it is a master motive in life. Religious beliefs and values (e.g.,humility, compassion, etc.) are internalized 'without reservation', and other needs and goals are accommodated, reorganized, and brought in harmony with these religious contents. Importantly, an intrinsic religious orientation “floods the whole life with motivation and meaning”" (p.426). Religion for this reason is a particularly thought-provoking topic as it can be seen as the highest of all motivators and can give rise to positive motivations of altruism, charity and self-sacrifice.

Autonomy[edit | edit source]

Figure 5. Self Determination theory outlined

When relating the psychological need for autonomy with religion, taken at face value, it appears as though religious people are willing to give up certain aspects of their autonomy. Autonomy is lost when we adhere to certain rules without force or being coerced. The motivators for religious belief, therefore, have to come through in one's own beliefs. Religious individuals still need to maintain the feeling that they have personal choice and that they are the one's[grammar?] in control of their own behaviour.

We want our actions to emerge in an authentic way and express our needs, expectations, wants, and desires. We want to be the one who decides what to do, when to do it, how to do it, when to avoid doing it, and whether to do it at all. In other words, we want autonomy.

Religious beliefs are thought to be motivated by one's own internal structures, not from external or interjected regulation, rather that these actions are motivated by a sense of reflecting one's own true values.

Competence[edit | edit source]

Religious people strive to achieve a flow state when in prayer/meditation and religious underpinning's[grammar?] could help them achieve these goals when they are working on tasks that may seem difficult or dull. In terms of Self-determination theory, religious people are motivated by a drive towards mastery in their given activity. Religion satisfies this need because while they are working on tasks that may seem monotonous, religion provides the rules, the direction should one go in, and what will be gained from doing so. Religion provides guidance in the way of mentoring, help and assistance, resources. Religion offers constructive feedback to individuals and how well they're performing, and the path to further progress.

In terms of obtaining competence, studies have shown that participating in religion can facilitate effective goal setting. According to Emmons (2000), when the goal is to adapt to a stressful incident, religious people are better at coping than non-religious people. In other words, "religious individuals are more likely to be adept at handling traumatically induced stress; they are more likely to find meaning in traumatic crises and are more likely to experience growth following trauma than are less religious persons" (Park, Cohen, & Murch, 1996, as cited in Emmons 2000 p.12). In order to achieve a level of competence, there needs to be a certain amount of resilience within a person and it is shown here that religious beliefs can help facilitate this motivational goal.

Relatedness[edit | edit source]

Religion can be seen as satisfying the psychological need for relatedness because of the three main religions all of them give us a omniscient authority figure who is understanding, validating and caring (see below for definitions).

Understanding Religion is about someone knowing what it is we feel, what we want, and what it is that we are communicating
Validation Gives us a sense that the God or God's[grammar?] that we are in commune with accepts us and appreciates us for who we are
Caring That we are being shown kindness and concern for our well-being

This aspect of SDT shows that we crave a connected presence in our world and a sense of belonging. Studies have show a strong correlation between religious affiliation and positive physical and holistic outcomes such as longer lifespan and higher levels of happiness (see Figure 5). Researchers Patterson and Price (2012) assessed that this was due to "fostering the provision of semi‐public goods, such as emotional support, role models, and church resources" (p. 1). We can look at these as both motivations for engaging in religious rituals as they do not want to be seen as an outcast of the group which could depending on the context lead to psychological or physical harm. They can also be seen as intrinsic motivators for religious people as demonstrated by leading lives that are healthier than those without religion.

Figure 6. Statistics showing correlations between religion and happiness

An interesting example of relatedness theory comes from a study where participants were found to favor the in-group of their religion and to exclude those from a different religion during a competitive game (Van Cappellen, Fredrickson, Saroglou, & Corneille, 2017).

The social bonds that are created due to religion are important in fulfilling the need for relatedness. Satisfying one's need for relatedness comes down to the belief that another person cares about my health and prosperity and likes me for my true self. Furthermore, a global study found evidence that actively religious people tend to report greater happiness than less religious individuals (see Figure 6; Marshall, 2019).

Cognitive dissonance theory[edit | edit source]

Cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957), proposes that individuals experience psychological stress when they participate in a behaviour that goes against a contradictory belief, ideas or value. According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people will try to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort. Religion can give rise to cognitive dissonance because of the very nature of the myths religion is based on. For example, the beliefs that God created the universe in seven days, water can be turned to wine, a man can be resurrected from the dead, can all create conflict between the religious belief and personal experience. In turn, the negative affect elicited by cognitive dissonance motivates dissonance reduction in order to reduce distress. Burris, Harmon-Jones and Tarpley (1997) found that when faced with a conflict between their beliefs and experience, religious individuals did indeed reduce cognitive dissonance and experienced less distress.

Facilitating escapism[edit | edit source]

Looking further into the issue of cognitive dissonance, research showed that remaining rigid in ones[grammar?] beliefs despite evidence to the contrary, can lead to an escape to a false reality. This was demonstrated by Lewin (1933), who found that conflicts and uncertainties cause an anxious tension that persists when one's goals remain impeded. Individuals with no other options will escape from the tension by resorting to fantasy, submission, or belligerence. Religion encompasses all three of these forms of escapism. Religion by definition involves fantastical, mystical and supernatural elements, such as, miracles or the resurrection. It involves submitting yourself to a higher power in both a spiritual sense but also in reality when people are submitting to priests, Imams or Rabbi's[grammar?]

Leaving religion[edit | edit source]

Figure 7. Graph outlining reasons for leaving religion

Reasons for leaving religion can be numerous and personal, however, the majority of people who leave explain their reasoning as they simply stopped believing in the religions[grammar?] teachings (see Figure 7, Winston, 2016). There appears to be a steep age gap in those whot are religiously unaffiliated, a cause for worry for religious groups. The reason people stop believing in religious teachings include extrinsic motivators, such as, a lack of encouragement from family, schools and friends. It may also be due to a lack of motivation for religious morals and teachings. There has also been evidence that the transmission of religious belief in ones[grammar?] offspring can fail due to the parents:

  1. overbearing nature
  2. introducing religious beliefs too late in a child's life
  3. perceived hypocrisy in the parent's actions or
  4. the child having an anti-religious influence in their life (Kelley, Gallbraith, & Korth, 2020).

Quiz[edit | edit source]

1 What is not one of the Abrahamic Religions?[This question isn't central to target topic]


2 Which psychologist is credited with Cognitive Dissonance Theory?[This question isn't central to target topic]

Sigmund Freud
Leon Festinger
Jordan Peterson

3 What is the main reason people leave religion?

Political views of the religion
A traumatic experience inside the religious organisation
Stopped believing in the religious teachings

See also[edit | edit source]

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Modern social theories and motivational sub-theories have provided answers from a myriad of different perspectives. Ranging from the evolutionary aspects of religion, to social determination theory and cognitive dissonance theory, we have seen the complexity empirical research needed to come to an effective conclusion of what motivates people to engage in religion. The motivations behind religious belief can be best described as an integrated mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. However, a significant influence on the adaption of religious beliefs stems from an adopted belief from parents or guardians. There are also other demographic factors such as income, gender or race and the environment that you're raised in that can decrease or increase religious belief. This book chapter has also raised and answered the question of cognitive dissonance and the effects it has had on maintaining religious beliefs. The case studies and the data collected show that people are motivated to create a new cognition when their behaviours are not aligned with their beliefs and there is also evidence that goes further and states that religion acts as a form of escapism from the worlds unanswered questions. It is clear that there are meaningful, universal traits that drive humans towards religiosity. They can be seen as a motivation towards understanding, towards belonging to and believing in community and to being competent and a valued member of this community.

There are still many avenues that could be explored by academics such as the motivations of atheistic beliefs and whether they are sustainable in our world given that we have seen the rise of listlessness, suicide and overall unhappiness. We have also seen cultures drift from those based on strong religious foundations to those with secular ones taking over. It could be pertinent to return to the issue of religious motivation as humanity encounters new, 21st century challenges. It will be interesting to see whether longitudinal studies and data points show a increase in religious faith or an decline.

References[edit | edit source]

Anderton, C. L., Pender, D. A., & Asner-Self, K. K. (2011). A review of the religious identity/sexual orientation identity conflict literature: Revisiting Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 5(3-4), 259-281.

BBC - Religion: Religions. (2020). Retrieved 9 October 2020, from

Burris, C. T., Harmon-Jones, E., & Tarpley, W. R. (1997). " By Faith Alone": Religious Agitation and Cognitive Dissonance. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 19(1), 17-31.

Daw, J. E. (2018). A Correlational Study on Orientation toward Religion and Academic Motivation among Undergraduates at a Christian University (Doctoral dissertation, Grand Canyon University).

Emmons, R. A. (2000). Is spirituality an intelligence? Motivation, cognition, and the psychology of ultimate concern. The International Journal for the psychology of Religion, 10(1), 3-26.

Gebauer, J. E., & Maio, G. R. (2012). The need to belong can motivate belief in God. Journal of Personality, 80(2), 465-501.

Guven, M. (2013). Relation of motivation and religiosity: An empirical research on the relation of academic motivation and intrinsic religious motivation. Ekev Akademi Dergisi, 17(55), 151-165.

Hackett, C., & McClendon, D. (2020, May 31). World's largest religion by population is still Christianity. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from

Harari, Yuval N. author. (2015). Sapiens : a brief history of humankind. New York :Harper,

Hunsberger, B., & Jackson, L. M. (2005). Religion, meaning, and prejudice. Journal of social issues, 61(4), 807-826.

Jackson, L., & Coursey, R. (1988). The Relationship of God Control and Internal Locus of Control to Intrinsic Religious Motivation, Coping and Purpose in Life. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 27(3), 399-410. doi:10.2307/1387378

Jensen, K. D., & Gibbons, S. G. (2002). Shame and religion as factors in the rehabilitation of serious offenders. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 35(3-4), 209-224.

Kelley, H. H., Galbraith, Q., & Korth, B. B. (2020, May 14). The How and What of Modern ReligiousTransmission and Its Implications for Families. Journal of Family Psychology. Advance onlinepublication.

Kejzlar, T. (2017, September 02). Cargo Cult Agile. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from

Kruglanski, A. W., Jasko, K., Milyavsky, M., Chernikova, M., Webber, D., Pierro, A., & Di Santo, D. (2018). Cognitive consistency theory in social psychology: A paradigm reconsidered. Psychological Inquiry, 29(2), 45-59.

Marshall, J. (2019, January 31). Are religious people happier, healthier? Our new global study explores this question. Retrieved from

Martos, T., Kézdy, A., & Horváth-Szabó, K. (2011). Religious motivations for everyday goals: Their religious context and potential consequences. Motivation and Emotion, 35(1), 75-88.

Neyrinck, B., Lens, W., Vansteenkiste, M., & Soenens, B. (2010). Updating Allport's and Batson's Framework of Religious Orientations: A Reevaluation from the Perspective of Self‐Determination Theory and Wulff's Social Cognitive Model. Journal for the scientific study of Religion, 49(3), 425-438.

Our Approach. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2020, from

Patterson, R., & Price, J. (2012). Pornography, religion, and the happiness gap: Does pornography impact the actively religious differently?. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51(1), 79-89.

Pyysiäinen, I., & Hauser M. (2010). The Origins of Religion: Evolved Adaptation or By-Product? "Trends in Cognitive Sciences", 14(3), 104–109.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American psychologist, 55(1), 68.

Self-Determination Theory of Motivation - Center for Community Health & Prevention - University of Rochester Medical Center. (2020). Retrieved 18 October 2020, from

Van Cappellen, P., Fredrickson, B. L., Saroglou, V., & Corneille, O. (2017). Religiosity and the Motivation for Social Affiliation. Personality and individual differences, 113, 24–31.

Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Soenens, B., & Matos, L. (2005). Examining the motivational impact of intrinsic versus extrinsic goal framing and autonomy‐supportive versus internally controlling communication style on early adolescents' academic achievement. Child development, 76(2), 483-501.

Why most people leave religion? They just 'stop believing'. (2016, December 06). Retrieved October 16, 2020, from

Willer, R. (2009). No atheists in foxholes: Motivated reasoning and religious belief. Social and psychological bases of ideology and system justification, 241-264 .

External Links[edit | edit source]

A Reason To Believe In God

Why are people Religious? A cognitive perspective