Unhappy with the way Washington’s running things? Score one for God.
New research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has found that when citizens lose their sense of political stability, they often look to a higher power to feed that psychological need. As the researchers put it:
Although the reach of government pales in comparison with the potential reach of God, these two external systems represent the broadest sources of order and control that exist in the developed world. When a political system fails to serve this fundamental need, people turn to religious belief to provide the reassurance they crave.
The study was based on four separate experiments from around various countries (including ones in Malaysia, Canada, and the U.S.), each gauging the test population’s belief in a divine power after reading one of two fake news articles: either an optimistic piece touting the country’s political stability, or an article suggesting that the nation’s government was about to fail.
Test subjects were then asked a series of questions, including “To what extent do you think the events in the universe unfold according to God’s, or some type of nonhuman entity’s, plan?”
The result: people who read the negative piece are more likely to believe in a controlling God.
Adjacent research is similar but with slight variations. In a Canada-based study, participants read another two articles (ostensibly from Science magazine) that either entertained or disproved the existence of God or a God-like entity. They were then asked questions about their current national government and—surprise, surprise—“When God was depicted as a source of control and order, participants less ardently defended the legitimacy of their government.”
Here’s the most fascinating bit though: in all the research done, the U.S. is the one exception to the rule. Said researchers,
Religious commitment does not appear to be waning as secular systems develop and stabilize, [which is] almost exclusively limited to the United States.
Why? Perhaps it’s due to the number of immigrants arriving from the near-constant instability of less developed nations. Or it could be because we’re so deliberately messed with by our government. (Don’t believe us? Check out the graph below, depicting the relative level of our terror alerts against election periods.)
If today’s election doesn’t go your way, well, you can always go to church.