Author(s): Persinger MA
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Abstract In one experiment 40 first-year psychology students were asked to judge dangerousness to society of 10 fictitious patients who professed beliefs about an "alien." The statements were actually paraphrases primarily concerning death and killing from the New Testament, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In a second experiment 39 first-year psychology students were asked to rate the dangerousness of the verbatim statements with their sources identified. In the first experiment, statements from the Koran, which involved accessing a positive afterlife by killing nonbelievers in the name of a deity, were ranked as more dangerous. The differences between the sources accommodated 33\% of the variance in the rankings for dangerousness. The group of students who were given the original statements and their actual sources ranked the statements from the New Testament and the Koran as significantly less dangerous than those who were told the statements were from patients. These results suggest that statements about killing and death may be rated as less dangerous if the person believes the source was a "sacred text."
This article was published in Percept Mot Skills
and referenced in Journal of Socialomics