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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Loneliness Is Next to Godliness

People are more likely to believe in the supernatural—God, angels, or miracles—when they feel lonely than when they don't, according to new research out of the University of Chicago. The team of researchers also found that people alleviate loneliness by anthropomorphizing —turning objects into people that can keep them company. "When people lack a sense of connection with other people, they are more likely to see their pets, gadgets, or gods as humanlike," says Nicholas Epley, an assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business and one of the study's authors. (Fear, on the other hand, doesn't increase reported belief in God or how people describe their pets.) Which is why the fictional movie Castaway "depicts a deep truth about the irrepressibly social nature of Homo sapiens, " says John Cacioppo, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago who also worked on the study. “Tom Hanks was isolated on an island and found the social desolation to be one of the most daunting challenges with which he had to deal," he says. “He did so, in part, by anthropomorphizing a volleyball, Wilson, who became his friend and confidant while he was on the island.” The team's research will be published in the February issue of the journal Psychological Science. —Heather Wax


Anonymous said...

I study english literature and according to many sypnotic novels you seem to be exactly on target, a continous pattern is shown.This is really helpful for my exam,thanku :)