The Mutability of Anthropomorphism in God Concepts
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A study of undergraduate students examines the mutability of anthropomorphism in God concepts. Barrett and Keil (1996) argued that individuals have two concepts for God: an explicit concept that holds God to be omnipotent, omnipresent, and eternal, and an implicit concept that anthropomorphizes God. Individuals draw on the explicit concept when discussing their faith, but may use the implicit concept when reasoning about God's capabilities and motivation. It was hypothesized that participants who read passages that implicitly attributed anthropomorphic properties to God would subsequently show greater use of anthropomorphic concepts to reason about God. The degree of anthropomorphic God concepts was measured by participants' endorsement of physiological properties of God as compared to psychological properties, and by their inclusion of anthropomorphic cues in passage recall items. Preliminary results of the study are inconclusive.