What if there were no God? Politically conservative and liberal Christians imagine their lives without faith

Dan P. McAdams*, Michelle Albaugh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

A sample of devout Christian adults, ranging widely in political orientation, described what their lives (and the world) might be like had they never embraced faith. Politically conservative Christians (also scoring high on right-wing authoritarianism) tended to imagine a life deficient in impulse control, wherein unrestrained sexual and aggressive urges, addictive behaviors, and human selfishness undermined the social good. By contrast, politically liberal Christians (also scoring low on right-wing authoritarianism) imagined an empty and barren world, devoid of the emotional intensity that makes life worth living. Gender differences were also observed, but they did not interfere with the relation between political orientation and the narrative themes. In accord with theoretical writings regarding normative and humanistic ideologies, the findings suggest that, at least among American Christians, political conservatism may entail a fear of, or strong sensitivity to, the prospects of conflict and chaos, whereas political liberalism may entail an equally strong fear of, or sensitivity to, emptiness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1668-1672
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Volume42
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

Keywords

  • Authoritarianism
  • Counterfactual thinking
  • Political attitudes
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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