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Higher Individual Religiosity Linked to lower Science Literacy

Past research suggests that religion and science may conflict on which is a better tool for explaining the world. This conflict implies that religiosity might negatively impact both attitudes toward science and science knowledge. However, past research has focused mostly on religious affiliation and has not consistently identified such a relation using a general religiosity measure that assesses religious beliefs and religious practice. A meta-analysis done at Rochester University recently published in PlosOne shows that religious people know less about science, possibly because they view science less positively. Surprisingly, parental religious beliefs were related to their children's attitudes about science nearly 20 years later in life.Using two large, nationally representative datasets as well as two original datasets, and controlling for relevant demographic variables, four studies (N = 9,205) showed that general measures of religiosity are negatively associated with science knowledge, a relation that was partially mediated by an association between religiosity and negative attitudes toward science. Study 2 also showed that parents’ reports about their religiosity and its role in their children’s upbringing predicted, some 20 years later, their children’s attitudes toward science. The studies are correlational but the longitudinal relations in Study 2 suggests that religiosity might undermine science literacy.

Mediation model depicting the relationship between religiosity, science attitudes, and science knowledge in stud 1.
Standardized coefficients are displayed; coefficient in parentheses is the total effect before controlling for the mediator; p = .050, **p < .001.

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