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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00285

Religious fundamentalism modulates neural responses to error-related words: The role of motivation towards closure

 Małgorzata Kossowska1*,  Paulina Szwed1, Miroslaw Wyczesany1,  Gabriela Czarnek1 and Eligiusz Wronka1
  • 1Jagiellonian University, Poland

Examining the relationship between brain activity and religious fundamentalism, this study explores whether fundamentalist religious beliefs increase responses to error-related words among participants intolerant to uncertainty (i.e., high in the need for closure) in comparison to those who have a high degree of toleration for uncertainty (i.e., those who are low in the need for closure). We examine a negative-going event-related brain potentials occurring 400 ms after stimulus onset (the N400) due to its well-understood association with the reactions to emotional conflict. Religious fundamentalism and tolerance of uncertainty were measured on self-report measures, and electroencephalographic neural reactivity was recorded as participants were performing an emotional Stroop task. In this task, participants read neutral words and words related to uncertainty, errors, and pondering, while being asked to name the color of the ink with which the word is written. The results confirm that among people who are intolerant of uncertainty (i.e., those high in the need for closure), religious fundamentalism is associated with an increased N400 on error-related words compared with people who tolerate uncertainty well (i.e., those low in the need for closure).

Keywords: Religious Fundamentalism, need for closure, Errors, Brain activity, N400 component

Received: 29 Aug 2017; Accepted: 20 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Nicholas Furl, Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Aaron L. Wichman, Western Kentucky University, United States
Jill A. Jacobson, Queen's University, Canada  

Copyright: © 2018 Kossowska, Szwed, Wyczesany, Czarnek and Wronka. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Małgorzata Kossowska, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland,