Past Its Prime? A Methodological Overview and Critique of Religious Priming Research in Social Psychology

Shoko Watanabe, Sean M. Laurent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Social psychologists have frequently used priming methodologies to explore how religion can impact behaviour. Despite this, no consensus currently exists on whether religious priming effects are replicable or consistently observed across a range of spiritual beliefs. Moreover, mixed evidence highlights possible methodological shortcomings within the priming literature as well as theoretical ambiguity regarding the contents of different primes. The current article examines four types of religious priming methodologies that are frequently used in social-psychological research (explicit, implicit, subliminal, and contextual) and critically inspects the current landscape of the religious priming literature. We highlight theoretical issues and suggest methodological improvements that should facilitate a clearer understanding of when and how religion influences human behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-55
Number of pages25
JournalJournal for the Cognitive Science of Religion
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 6 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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