Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8829-137X

Year of Publication

2018

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Will M. Gervais

Abstract

Space exploration continues to expand humanity’s understanding of the universe. And, while Americans have widely favorable attitudes towards efforts to explore outer space, certain religious beliefs appear to be associated with more negative attitudes towards space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life. The current study explored the role of religion and creationism on attitudes towards space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life. Priming techniques were used to test whether increasing the accessibility of religious and creationist concepts led to more negative attitudes towards space exploration and beliefs about extraterrestrial life. Participants (N = 230) encountered an explicit prime of religion, creationism, or a control prior to completing a word fragment task and measures of attitudes towards space exploration and beliefs about extraterrestrial life. The results of Bayesian estimation and hypothesis testing did not support the prediction. However, exploratory analyses indicated very strong evidence of atheists having more positive attitudes towards space exploration and beliefs about extraterrestrial life than theists. These findings suggest that while priming religion and creationism did not appear to influence reported attitudes, attitudes towards space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life may differ based on belief in god.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2018.276

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