5 Psychological Biases That Contribute to Belief

Here are 5 psychological biases that contribute to religious belief. I chose these because they are rarely discussed when it comes to belief biases. Watch the video for religion specific examples.

1. Belief Bias

Belief bias is the tendency to judge the strength of arguments based on the plausibility of their conclusion rather than how strongly they support that conclusion.

Example: It seems more likely to me that a god created the universe, therefore a god most likely created the universe.

2. Observational Selection Bias

This is that effect of suddenly noticing things we didn’t notice that much before — but we wrongly assume that the frequency has increased. It’s also a cognitive bias that contributes to the feeling that the appearance of certain things or events couldn’t possibly be a coincidence, even though it is.

Example: You purchase a Mustang and suddenly you notice that everyone else now has a Mustang. In the most extreme form, you think that everyone else purchased a Mustang after you or because you did.

3. Pareidolia

This is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus,often an image or sound, being perceived as significant.

Example: You see the face of Jesus in a dog’s anus or you hear satanic messages when playing a record backwards.

4. Repetition Bias

This is a cognitive bias in which there is a willingness to believe what we have been told most often and by the greatest number of different of sources.

Example: Your family tells you climate change is not actually happening. Your friends tell you climate change is not happening. Your teachers tell you climate change is not happening. You watch the news and they say climate change is happening. You don’t think climate change is happening due to repetition bias.

5. Status Quo Bias

This is the tendency to like things to stay relatively the same.

Example: I park my car in the same parking space everyday and I become irritable if someone has parked in “my spot.”

Bonus: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc Fallacy (Latin: “after this, therefore because of this”)

This is a logical fallacy that states “Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X.”

Example: I prayed for help with finding my keys. I found my keys. Prayer helped me find my keys.


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