Reactions of religious fundamentalists to taboo images and words

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Some view religious fundamentalism as inclusive of fear of the world as a dangerous place. Fundamentalists are known to have extensive taboo lists, but research concerning their reactions to taboo stimuli is sparse. If fear is a basic component of fundamentalism, then reactions to taboo stimuli should be somewhat similar to common fear reactions, including subjective appraisal of discomfort, psychophysiological arousal, cognitive interference, and behavioral avoidance. The current research addressed some of these questions with three studies to examine subjective discomfort to religiously-taboo and religiously-neutral words and photographs (N = 160), physiological arousal to these same photographs (N = 129), and attentional bias on a modified Stroop test of these same words (N = 182). Although subjective appraisals of discomfort to taboo words and photographs among fundamentalists were confirmed, this research did not find that physiological responses or cognitive interference to taboo stimuli were elevated in those scoring high in religious fundamentalism. © Psychological Reports 2013.

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Psychological Reports

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