Handedness and religious beliefs: testing the two possible accounts of authoritarianism and belief updating

Eugene Y. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the current investigation is to test two rival accounts for why consistent-handed individuals (that is, those who are strongly right- or left-handed) are more religious. Consistent-handed individuals are less likely to update their beliefs, thus they are likely to maintain religious beliefs that may be uncritically-held. However, consistent-handed individuals are likewise more authoritarian, which strongly predicts religiosity. We measured Americans' belief in God and in traditional religious teachings, their authoritarianism, magical ideation, and their susceptibility to the Barnum Effect. Consistent-handed participants were more religious on both measures. Both outcomes were mediated by authoritarianism, not magical ideation. Susceptibility to the Barnum Effect only mediated the effect for belief in God. We suggest that authoritarianism would better explain why consistent-handed individuals are more religious. We discuss some possible reasons why, the limitations of our study, and directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Authoritarianism
  • Belief updating
  • Handedness
  • Interhemispheric interaction
  • Religious beliefs

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