Perceptions of Atheists' Origin Stories & Anti-Atheist Prejudice

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

While substantial research on anti-atheist prejudice has considered the role of theists’ traits and beliefs, there has been little focus on the potential impact of theists’ perceptions of atheists’ beliefs. Specifically, perhaps perceptions of atheists’ reasons for accepting atheism further explains anti-atheist prejudice. In the present experiment, participants reported dislike, distrust and pity for atheists who endorses one of four routes to atheism. The four routes assessed were: 1) Analytical: analytical resistance to religious belief, 2) Apatheism: a lack of motivation to believe in deities, 3) Mindblind: a lack of ability to conceive of unobservable deities, and 4) InCREDulous: a lack of exposure to displays of religious devotion. We observed less disliking and distrust, but greater pity, of InCREDulous Atheists compared to each of the other three routes. Further analysis revealed that this difference may be partially explained by theists’ perception that InCREDulous Atheists are indifferent rather than opposed to theism. These findings may suggest that merely a perception that atheists are receptive to arguments for religious belief might reduce anti-atheist prejudice.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Anti-Atheist Prejudice, Atheists, Belief Based Stigma, Distrust of Atheists, Religious Disbelief