Despite the importance of religion and the growth of religious diversity across the globe, the study of religion is often negatively stereotyped among academics. Indeed, pilot data collected in my lab show that the psychology of religion is stereotyped as less rigorous and less mainstream than several other research areas within social/personality psychology. The goals of the proposed studies are to better understand the reasons behind such stereotypes and the effects of such stereotypes on religion researchers themselves, and to investigate the role of intellectual humility in cultivating openness to religion-related research. Part 1 of the proposed research will involve a survey-experiment of whether, why, and under what conditions scholars across social science disciplines evaluate the study of religion more negatively than other areas of study. Part 2, a longitudinal survey of early-career academics, will examine how and under what conditions negative stereotypes about the study of religion affect religion researchers themselves. Part 3 will involve three experiments designed to test potential mechanisms underlying negative evaluations of academic job candidates who study religion (i.e., religion researchers are themselves religious, have a pro-religion “agenda”, or lack scientific/intellectual competence). I expect these studies and their outputs (e.g., publications, presentations, press releases/blog posts) to increase academics’ awareness of biases against particular subdisciplines, and hence to foster intellectual humility in evaluating research areas or topics that appear not to comport with one’s own worldviews. More broadly, I expect the dissemination of these results to non-academic audiences (e.g., press releases in major news outlets) to heighten awareness of the potential benefits of intellectual humility – for example, increasing one’s openness to seemingly “unconventional” ideas and increasing resilience in the face of criticism of one’s own ideas.
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