Project III: The psychological functions of science

Science can function as a lens through which people view the world, which can help to meet important psychological needs. For many, science is a belief system that shares various motivational functions with other beliefs, worldviews, and ideologies. For example, our research has found that though science and religion differ in underlying assumptions, they share important psychological functions for explanation, control, order, and meaning.

Example publications

Rutjens, B. T., & van Elk, M. Can science provide meaning? Belief system predictors of meaning in life tested across different populations. In preparation.

Rutjens, B. T., & Preston, J. L. (2020). Science and religion: A rocky relationship shaped by shared psychological functions. In Vail, K., & Routledge, C. (Eds.) The science of religion, spirituality, and existentialism (pp. 373-385). Elsevier: Academic Press. 

Rutjens, B. T., van Harreveld, F., & van der Pligt, J. (2013). Step by step: Finding compensatory order in science. Current Directions in Psychological Science22, 250-255.

Rutjens, B. T., van der Pligt, J., & van Harreveld, F. (2010). Deus or Darwin: Randomness and belief in theories about the origin of life. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology46, 1078-1080.