Caring about you: the motivational component of mentalizing, not the mental state attribution component, predicts religious belief in Japan

Tatsunori Ishii*, Katsumi Watanabe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous studies have demonstrated the relationship between mentalizing and religious belief. However, mentalizing can be broken down into several components, and there are certain measures that correspond to such components. This study aimed to examine the relationship between mentalizing and religious belief using two representative measures, the Empathy Quotient (EQ) and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test (RMET). The results of two studies with Japanese samples showed that the EQ predicted increasing religious belief (study 1), as expected. However, the RMET was not a significant predictor of religious belief (studies 1 and 2). These findings suggest that mentalizing’s mental state attribution component (i.e., matching appropriate mental state words to facial expressions in the eye region) is not directly connected to religious belief. However, the motivational component (i.e., caring about what other people think and feel) is essential for believing in supernatural agents. This study’s limitations and directions for future studies are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReligion, Brain and Behavior
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Empathy Quotient
  • Japanese
  • Mentalizing
  • Reading the Mind in the Eyes
  • religious belief

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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