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We Are Not Born Believers

Are religious and spiritual beliefs a matter of the heart or the head? Or neither?

The growing consensus among cognitive psychologists has been that people who are more intuitive and less analytical end up being religious as adults.

But new findings by researchers at Coventry University's Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science and at Oxford University challenge this assumption.

Their research suggests that people are not born believers, and that no specific personality traits or cognitive styles cause some to be more religious than others.

Instead, the factors most likely to influence religious belief are where an individual was born and the upbringing and education they received. 

"We don't think people are 'born believers'... The available sociological and historical data show that what we believe in is mainly based on social and educational factors, and not on cognitive styles, such as intuitive/analytical thinking," said lead author Miguel Farias.

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