Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: God


On 22 February 2011, Christchurch New Zealand (population 367,700) experienced a devastating earthquake, causing extensive damage and killing one hundred and eighty-five people. The earthquake and aftershocks occurred between the 2009 and 2011 waves of a longitudinal probability sample conducted in New Zealand, enabling us to examine how a natural disaster of this magnitude affected deeply held commitments and global ratings of personal health, depending on earthquake exposure. We first investigated whether the earthquake-affected were more likely to believe in God. Consistent with the Religious Comfort Hypothesis, religious faith increased among the earthquake-affected, despite an overall decline in religious faith elsewhere. This result offers the first population-level demonstration that secular people turn to religion at times of natural crisis. We then examined whether religious affiliation was associated with differences in subjective ratings of personal health. We found no evidence for superior buffering from having religious faith. Among those affected by the earthquake, however, a loss of faith was associated with significant subjective health declines. Those who lost faith elsewhere in the country did not experience similar health declines. Our findings suggest that religious conversion after a natural disaster is unlikely to improve subjective well-being, yet upholding faith might be an important step on the road to recovery.

Concepts: Causality, Belief, Faith, Philosophy, New Zealand, Religion, Earthquake, God


Inertial measurement of motion with Attitude and Heading Reference Systems (AHRS) is emerging as an alternative to 3D motion capture systems in biomechanics. The objectives of this study are: 1) to describe the absolute and relative accuracy of multiple units of commercially available AHRS under various types of motion; and 2) to evaluate the effect of motion velocity on the accuracy of these measurements.

Concepts: Medical statistics, Absolute, Measurement, Psychometrics, Units of measurement, Motion capture, Special relativity, God


Prosocial behaviors are ubiquitous across societies. They emerge early in ontogeny [1] and are shaped by interactions between genes and culture [2, 3]. Over the course of middle childhood, sharing approaches equality in distribution [4]. Since 5.8 billion humans, representing 84% of the worldwide population, identify as religious [5], religion is arguably one prevalent facet of culture that influences the development and expression of prosociality. While it is generally accepted that religion contours people’s moral judgments and prosocial behavior, the relation between religiosity and morality is a contentious one. Here, we assessed altruism and third-party evaluation of scenarios depicting interpersonal harm in 1,170 children aged between 5 and 12 years in six countries (Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, USA, and South Africa), the religiousness of their household, and parent-reported child empathy and sensitivity to justice. Across all countries, parents in religious households reported that their children expressed more empathy and sensitivity for justice in everyday life than non-religious parents. However, religiousness was inversely predictive of children’s altruism and positively correlated with their punitive tendencies. Together these results reveal the similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children’s altruism, challenging the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behavior.

Concepts: Family, Psychology, Human, Child, Childhood, Religion, Morality, God


Using data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey (N = 1714), this study investigates the prevalence and religious predictors of healing prayer use among US adults. Indicators include prayed for self (lifetime prevalence = 78.8 %), prayed for others (87.4 %), asked for prayer (54.1 %), laying-on-of-hands (26.1 %), and participated in a prayer group (53.0 %). Each was regressed onto eight religious measures, and then again controlling for sociodemographic variables and health. While all religious measures had net effects on at least one healing prayer indicator, the one consistent predictor was a four-item scale assessing a loving relationship with God. Higher scores were associated with more frequent healing prayer use according to every measure, after controlling for all other religious variables and covariates.

Concepts: Religion, Meditation, Spirituality, God, Prayer, Faith healing, Mantra, Mysticism


This article analyzes opposing discourses on homosexuality forwarded by two different Catholic social actors. These are linked to the messages of the Lady of All Nations, a Marian apparition site in Amsterdam. These different actors are understood as competing moral communities ( Hunt, 2009 ), especially about the issue of what constitute European values. Both discourses can be seen as examples of the minoritizing yet universalizing view on homosexuality ( Kosofsky Sedgwick, 1990 , p. 85). The devotion to the Lady of All Nations serves as a site for promoting competing discourses ( Hermkens, Jansen, & Notermans, 2009 ).

Concepts: God, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Marian apparition, Marian apparitions


Ventilator bundles, including head-of-bed elevation, sedative infusion interruptions, spontaneous breathing trials, thromboprophylaxis, stress ulcer prophylaxis, and oral care with chlorhexidine gluconate, are ubiquitous, but the absolute and relative value of each bundle component is unclear.

Concepts: God


Objective: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a secular meditation training program that reduces depressive symptoms. Little is known, however, about the degree to which a participant’s spiritual and religious background, or other demographic characteristics associated with risk for depression, may affect the effectiveness of MBSR. Therefore, this study tested whether individual differences in religiosity, spirituality, motivation for spiritual growth, trait mindfulness, sex, and age affect MBSR effectiveness. Methods: As part of an open trial, multiple regression was used to analyze variation in depressive symptom outcomes among 322 adults who enrolled in an 8-week, community-based MBSR program. Results: As hypothesized, depressive symptom severity decreased significantly in the full study sample (d=0.57; p<0.01). After adjustment for baseline symptom severity, moderation analyses revealed no significant differences in the change in depressive symptoms following MBSR as a function of spirituality, religiosity, trait mindfulness, or demographic variables. Paired t tests found consistent, statistically significant (p<0.01) reductions in depressive symptoms across all subgroups by religious affiliation, intention for spiritual growth, sex, and baseline symptom severity. After adjustment for baseline symptom scores, age, sex, and religious affiliation, a significant proportion of variance in post-MBSR depressive symptoms was uniquely explained by changes in both spirituality (β=-0.15; p=0.006) and mindfulness (β=-0.17; p<0.001). Conclusions: These findings suggest that MBSR, a secular meditation training program, is associated with improved depressive symptoms regardless of affiliation with a religion, sense of spirituality, trait level of mindfulness before MBSR training, sex, or age. Increases in both mindfulness and daily spiritual experiences uniquely explained improvement in depressive symptoms.

Concepts: Statistical significance, Demographics, Major depressive disorder, Religion, Meditation, Spirituality, God, Religious experience


People tend to exhibit a leftward bias in posing. Various studies suggest that posing to the left portrays a stronger emotion, whereas posing to the right portrays a more neutral emotion. Religions such as Christianity emphasize the role of strong emotions in religious experience, whereas religions such as Buddhism emphasize the calming of emotions as being important. In the present study, we investigated if the emphasis on emotionality of a religion influences the depiction of their religious figures. Specifically, we coded 484 paintings of Jesus and Buddha from online art databases for whether the deity exhibited a left bias, right bias, or central face presentation. The posing biases were analysed to discover whether paintings of Jesus would more frequently depict a leftward bias than paintings of Buddha. Jesus is more commonly depicted with a leftward bias than Buddha, and Buddha is more commonly depicted with a central face presentation than Jesus. These findings support the idea that the amount of emotionality that is to be conveyed in artwork influences the whether the subject is posed with a leftward bias.

Concepts: Left-wing politics, Religion, Islam, Buddhism, Political spectrum, French Revolution, Christianity, God


The current study examined the cultural factors (i.e., religious background, religious participation, parents' views of prayer, and parents' concepts of God) that contribute to children’s differentiation between the capabilities of human minds and God’s mind. Protestant Christian, Roman Catholic, Muslim, and Religiously Non-Affiliated parents and their preschool-aged children were interviewed (N = 272). Children of Muslim parents differentiated the most between God’s mind and human minds (i.e., human minds are fallible but God’s is not), and children who had greater differentiation between God’s and humans' minds had parents who had the least anthropomorphic conceptions of God. Additionally, there was a unique effect of being raised in a Religiously Non-Affiliated home on the degree of children’s differentiation between God’s and human minds after religious context factors had been accounted for; in other words, children of Religious Non-Affiliates differentiated between humans and God the least and their differentiation was unrelated to religious context factors. These findings delineate the ways in which religious context differences influence concepts of God from the earliest formation. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Children’s concept of God develops during the preschool years. The degree of anthropomorphism in children’s concept of God varies. What does this study add? Muslim children have a strong differentiation between what God’s mind and human minds can do. Religiously Non-Affiliated children have almost no differentiation between God’s and human minds. Parent anthropomorphism explains variance in children’s God concepts, both within and across religious groups.

Concepts: Ontology, Thought, Religion, Islam, God, Atheism, Conceptions of God, Ishvara


Although many patients and their families view religion or spirituality as an important consideration near the end of life, little is known about the extent to which religious or spiritual considerations arise during goals-of-care conversations in the intensive care unit.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Life, Religion, Meditation, Spirituality, God, Prayer