Indexed on: 27 Oct '09Published on: 27 Oct '09Published in: Personality and social psychology review : an official journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc
The authors characterize religions as social groups and religiosity as the extent to which a person identifies with a religion, subscribes to its ideology or worldview, and conforms to its normative practices. They argue that religions have attributes that make them well suited to reduce feelings of self-uncertainty. According to uncertainty-identity theory, people are motivated to reduce feelings of uncertainty about or reflecting on self; and identification with groups, particularly highly entitative groups, is a very effective way to reduce uncertainty. All groups provide belief systems and normative prescriptions related to everyday life. However, religions also address the nature of existence, invoking sacred entities and associated rituals and ceremonies. They are entitative groups that provide a moral compass and rules for living that pervade a person's life, making them particularly attractive in times of uncertainty. The authors document data supporting their analysis and discuss conditions that transform religiosity into religious zealotry and extremism.