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Religious Fundamentalism and Integrative Complexity of Thought: A Relationship for Existential Content Only?

Bruce Hunsberger, Michael Pratt and S. Mark Pancer
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 335-346
DOI: 10.2307/1386493
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386493
Page Count: 12
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Religious Fundamentalism and Integrative Complexity of Thought: A Relationship for Existential Content Only?
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Abstract

Forty-five high and 44 low religious fundamentalists (drawn from a questionnaire study of 489 undergraduates) were interviewed to assess the integrative complexity of their thinking about a variety of topics. Interviewees discussed two vignettes (one familiar, the other relatively unfamiliar) in each of three different content domains (religious, ethical and environmental). Attempts were also made to increase individuals' integrative complexity of thought about each dilemma by means of several "prodding" questions. Across domains, complexity of thought was significantly higher for familiar than for unfamiliar vignettes. Also, we were successful in increasing respondents' complexity levels with our graduated prompts. Dispositional measures (religious fundamentalism, Christian orthodoxy, right-wing authoritarianism, dogmatism, and need for cognition) were related to complexity of thought, but these associations were not consistent across domains. In particular, we concluded that religious fundamentalism and orthodoxy were negatively related to complexity of thought for existential issues only, and a reconsideration of previous investigations suggested that this is in fact a consistent tendency in related research.

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