Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Bruce Hunsberger

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This research explored religious doubts in two separate investigations, the first an interview study and the second a questionnaire-based survey. In the interview study, 80 persons of varied religious orientations (28 high, 25 middle and 27 low orthodoxy participants) as measured by Fullerton and Hunsberger’s (1982) Christian Orthodoxy Scale, were selected from a sample of approximately 700 introductory psychology students. Respondents were asked about religious doubts they had experienced, the perceived causes of these doubts as well as their resolutions. Responses were coded for complexity of thinking to assess thought patterns related to these doubts. Complexity of thinking about religious doubts was related to experiencing religious doubts for three of four complexity measures with those experiencing more doubts being more complex in their thinking about religious doubts. Attribution biases for perceived causes of these doubts for self and others were also examined. Attributions were predominantly situational with participants making significantly more situational attributions for others’ doubts than for their own. This suggested attributions for others’ doubts are not prone to an actor-observer bias. Additionally, highly orthodox individuals tended to believe others were more like them than they actually were, suggesting support for a self-based false consensus effect. The second (questionnaire) study compared integrative complexity scores for religious and nonreligious content areas for 276 introductory psychology students who reported differing levels of religious doubts. Religious doubts were not correlated with thinking about a nonreligious issue and only weakly correlated with a religious issue. This was consistent with the speculation that complexity of thinking is domain-specific. Religious doubt is moderately related to religious doubts for the religious doubt domain, weakly related for more traditional religious content, and not related for capital punishment (nonreligious domain).

Convocation Year


Convocation Season