Miguel Farias

Miguel Farias
Coventry University | CU · Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement

DPhil

About

77
Publications
34,213
Reads
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1,912
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2014 - present
Coventry University
Position
  • Reader in Cognitive and Biological Psychology
October 2008 - September 2013
University of Oxford
Position
  • Lecturer
March 2005 - September 2008
University of Oxford
Position
  • Research Associate

Publications

Publications (77)
Article
Full-text available
Growing evidence indicates that religious belief helps individuals to cope with stress and anxiety. But is this effect specific to supernatural beliefs, or is it a more general function of belief - including belief in science? We developed a measure of belief in science and conducted two experiments in which we manipulated stress and existential an...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: Meditation interventions typically show small to moderate effects on health and well-being, but we know little about how these effects vary across individuals. This meta-analytic study investigates the relationship between baseline participant characteristics and the outcomes of meditation. Methods: A systematic search yielded 51 eli...
Article
Religion is often understood to play a positive role in shaping moral attitudes among believers. We assessed the relationship between church members’ levels of felt connectedness to their respective congregations and perceived similarity in personal and congregational moral values, and whether there was a relationship between these and the amount o...
Article
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The religiosity of academics has been studied for over a decade. With few exceptions, this research has been conducted on American “elite” scientists, and data from non-Western countries is lacking. Drawing from psychological and sociological literature, the present exploratory study investigates the religiosity of Turkish academics (N = 361) and t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Conflicting findings have emerged from research on the relationship between thinking styles and supernatural beliefs. In two studies, we examined this relationship through meta-cognitive trust and developed a new (1) experimental manipulation, a short scientific article describing the benefits of thinking styles, (2) trust in thinking styles measur...
Article
Participation in religion has frequently been associated with high levels of wellbeing. Few studies, however, have directly compared the effect of participating in a religious versus a secular congregation. The creation of the Sunday Assembly, in effect a secular “church,” has created the opportunity to make direct comparisons between religious and...
Preprint
Full-text available
The global increase in non-religious individuals begs for a better understanding of what non-religious beliefs and worldviews actually entail. Rather than assuming an absence of belief or imposing a predetermined set of beliefs, the current research uses an open-ended approach to investigate which secular beliefs and worldviews non-religious non-th...
Chapter
Based on the well-established link between religiosity and positive mental health outcomes, it has been argued that non-religiosity is a health liability. However, most of this research suffers from methodological problems that limit their generalizability to non-religious populations, such as atheists and agnostics. In this chapter, we draw attent...
Article
Full-text available
In spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. The threat the pandemic poses as well as associated lockdown measures created challenging times for many. This study aimed to investigate the individual and social factors associated with low mental health, particularly perceived threat and lockdown measures, and factors associated with psychologi...
Article
Full-text available
Religious rituals are associated with health benefits, potentially produced via social bonding. It is unknown whether secular rituals similarly increase social bonding. We conducted a field study with individuals who celebrate secular rituals at Sunday Assemblies and compared them with participants attending Christian rituals. We assessed levels of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Based on the well-established link between religiosity and positive mental health outcomes, it has been argued that nonreligiosity is a health liability. However, most of this research suffers from methodological problems that limit their generalizability to nonreligious populations, such as atheists and agnostics. In the current chapter, we draw a...
Article
Full-text available
Religious rituals are universal human practices that play a seminal role in community bonding. In two experiments, we tested the role of mu-opioids as the active factor fostering social bonding. We used a mu-opioid blocker (naltrexone) in two double-blind studies of rituals from different religious traditions. We found the same effect across both s...
Article
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Introduction: The Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (O-LIFE) is a widely-used scale, and the first to include a dimensional approach to understanding schizotypy. Objective: To adapt the short version of the O-LIFE (O-LIFE-S) into Brazilian Portuguese. Method: a) Two independent bilingual professionals translated the origin...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Meditation techniques are widely used as therapy and wellbeing practices, but there are growing concerns about its potential for harm. The aim of the present study is to systematically review meditation adverse events (MAEs), investigating its major clinical categories and its prevalence. Method We searched PubMed, PsycINFO, Scopus, Emba...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background In spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. The threat the pandemic poses as well as associated lockdown measures created challenging times for many. Purpose This study aimed to investigate the individual and social factors associated with low mental health, particularly perceived threat and lockdown measures, and factors associ...
Preprint
This study addressed the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and examined factors exacerbating or mitigating the negative effects of lockdown. Results from a large multi-country online survey (N=8,229) showed average elevated levels of anxiety and depression (especially in the USA, UK, and Brazil), associated with feeling...
Preprint
Religious rituals are associated with health benefits, potentially produced via social bonding. It is unknown whether secular rituals similarly increase social bonding. We conducted a field study with individuals who celebrate secular rituals at Sunday Assemblies and compared them with participants attending Christian rituals. We assessed levels of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Religious rituals are universal human practices, generally practiced in groups. Social scientists have highlighted for over 100 years its role in bonding individuals, but the mechanisms underlying this function have yet to be explored. Here we tested the role of mu-opioids in fostering social bonding in rituals across two double-blind studies. For...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ‘brain-opioid theory of social attachment’ (BOTSA) has been proposed as providing the neurobiological underpinnings of social bonding. Endorphins are activated in the brain by a variety of social activities, including social touch, laughter, singing, dancing and feasting. Several of these seem to be involved in the processes of bonding whole co...
Article
Full-text available
The American National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) has put out a set of research goals that include a long-term plan to identify more reliable endogenous explanations for a wide variety of mental health disorders (Insel, 2013). In response to this, we have identified a major symptom that underlies multiple mental health disorders – social bon...
Preprint
Full-text available
The American National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) has put out a set of research goals that include a long-term plan to identify more reliable endogenous explanations for a wide variety of mental health disorders (Insel, 2013). In response to this, we have identified a major symptom that underlies multiple mental health disorders – social bon...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing interest in the study of the cognitive processes underpinning New Age and Paranormal beliefs (NAPBs). However, there is a scarcity of research on this topic using non-WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) populations. The main purpose of this study was to develop an implicit association test (IAT) of NAPB...
Chapter
Full-text available
We examine conceptual and methodological problems that arise in the course of the scientific study of possible influences of religious belief on the experience of physical pain. We start by attempting to identify a notion of religious belief that might enter into interesting psychological generalizations involving both religious belief and pain. We...
Article
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It is widely assumed that belief in God allows people to better cope with life’s stresses. This stress-buffering effect is not limited to religion; when faced with stress, nonreligious people cling on to other belief systems, notably belief in science. We report an experimental test of whether people are able to down-regulate an acute stress experi...
Article
Sixty-five percent of prisoners have personality disorders. The aim of this study was to test if mind–body interventions can improve self-regulation in prisoners with personality disorders, and to elucidate the biological and psychological mechanisms of perceived benefits. Thirty prisoners with personality disorders were assigned to a mindfulness p...
Article
Full-text available
In the past thirty years the camino to Santiago de Compostela has been recreated as an eclectic pilgrimage, open to both religious and atheist travellers. Following previous work on motivational orientations and religion (Farias and Lalljee 2008), we conducted a study examining atheist vs. religious pilgrims’ motivations to walk the Santiago way. W...
Preprint
In the past thirty years the camino to Santiago de Compostela has been recreated as an eclectic pilgrimage, open to both religious and atheist travellers. Following previous work on motivational orientations and religion (Farias and Lalljee 2008), we conducted a study examining atheist vs. religious pilgrims’ motivations to walk the Santiago way. W...
Article
Full-text available
Many individuals believe that meditation has the capacity to not only alleviate mental-illness but to improve prosociality. This article systematically reviewed and meta-analysed the effects of meditation interventions on prosociality in randomized controlled trials of healthy adults. Five types of social behaviours were identified: compassion, emp...
Article
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According to the Intuitive Belief Hypothesis, supernatural belief relies heavily on intuitive thinking - and decreases when analytic thinking is engaged. After pointing out various limitations in prior attempts to support this Intuitive Belief Hypothesis, we test it across three new studies using a variety of paradigms, ranging from a pilgrimage fi...
Article
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There is considerable evidence for the effectiveness of mind–body interventions (MBIs) in improving mental and physical health, but the molecular mechanisms of these benefits remain poorly understood. One hypothesis is that MBIs reverse expression of genes involved in inflammatory reactions that are induced by stress. This systematic review was con...
Article
Method: 115 participants were recruited from Spiritist Centers in Brazil. At the 1-year follow up, 90 participants (78%) were reassessed. Instruments were the SCID-I (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV), TCI-R 140 (Revised Temperament and Character Inventory), OLIFE-R (Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences), and WHOQOL-BREF...
Poster
Full-text available
Poster presented at the Coventry University big HLS Conference 2017.
Article
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Apesar da prática de possessão em contexto religioso ser relativamente comum e transcultural, como por exemplo nas religiões afro-brasileiras, nas religiões espíritas, nas igrejas cristãs neopentecostais e carismáticas, há relativamente pouca pesquisa sobre a saúde mental e os correlatos psicológicos dos indivíduos que vivenciam estes estados de po...
Article
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Objective:: It is unclear why some individuals reporting psychotic experiences have balanced lives while others go on to develop mental health problems. The objective of this study was to test if the personality traits of harm avoidance, self-directedness, and self-transcendence can be used as criteria to differentiate healthy from unhealthy schiz...
Article
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The excitement about the application of mindfulness meditation in mental health settings has led to the proliferation of a literature pervaded by a lack of conceptual and methodological self-criticism. In this article we raise two major concerns. First, we consider the range of individual differences within the experience of meditation; although so...
Article
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The work in this paper introduces finite mixture models that can be used to simultaneously cluster the rows and columns of two-mode ordinal categorical response data, such as those resulting from Likert scale responses. We use the popular proportional odds parameterisation and propose models which provide insights into major patterns in the data. M...
Article
We suggest an alternative explanation for the emergence of Big Gods that places less emphasis on the role of cognitive tendencies and selection of prosocial cultural variants. Instead, we argue that the fundamental motivation to reduce uncertainty and increase long-term predictability provides a better account for the rise of Big moralizing Gods in...
Article
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The aim of this paper is to examine if the diagnostic criteria of DSM-5 are able to differentiate between non-pathological religious possession and dissociative identity disorder (DID). We use the case study of an individual who leads an Afro-Brazilian religious group (Umbanda), focusing on her personal development and possession experiences from e...
Poster
Full-text available
Objectives: Attentional bias is the automatic allocation of attention to smoking-related stimuli and has been investigated as it may have a role in the maintenance of smoking and hinder cessation attempts. Despite a lack of nicotine dependence, non-dependent smokers have a cessation failure rate comparable to dependent smokers. The present study ai...
Article
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Objectives . In the first randomized controlled trial of yoga on UK prisoners, we previously showed that yoga practice was associated with improved mental wellbeing and cognition. Here, we aimed to assess how class attendance, self-practice, and demographic factors were related to outcome amongst prisoners enrolled in the 10-week yoga intervention....
Data
The Supplementary Material contain information about the instructions that were provided to participants during the final seated meditation, together with the full results of analyses exploring effects of attendance, self-practice, demographic variables, and baseline psychometrics against outcome .
Article
Full-text available
Meditation and mindfulness have a dark side that should not be ignored, say psychologists Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm
Article
There is another side to Sumner and colleagues’ evidence on the exaggeration of results in health related science news and academic press releases: the silence surrounding contradictory evidence.1 A notable case is that of mindfulness meditation. A practice that a few decades ago was hippie is …
Article
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A growing body of research has focused on so-called 'utilitarian' judgments in moral dilemmas in which participants have to choose whether to sacrifice one person in order to save the lives of a greater number. However, the relation between such 'utilitarian' judgments and genuine utilitarian impartial concern for the greater good remains unclear....
Article
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A growing body of research has focused on so-called ‘utilitarian’ judgments in moral dilemmas in which participants have to choose whether to sacrifice one person in order to save the lives of a greater number. However, the relation between such ‘utilitarian’ judgments and genuine utilitarian impartial concern for the greater good remains unclear....
Article
Full-text available
Three academic/practitioners from different disciplines (performance, medicine and psychology) describe the ways in which observing, and importantly, participating in the healing rituals of the French pilgrimage site of Lourdes challenged their ways of thinking about both their discipline's research approaches and their understandings of community,...
Article
Full-text available
Three academic/practitioners from different disciplines (performance, medicine and psychology) describe the ways in which observing, and importantly, participating in the healing rituals of the French pilgrimage site of Lourdes challenged their ways of thinking about both their discipline ' s research approaches and their understandings of communit...
Article
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Article
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There is a renewed interest amongst scholars in the practice of pilgrimage. Over the past two decades, pilgrim numbers have risen significantly, whilst forms of “implicit” or “alternative” spirituality have gained visibility and now coexist with organised religions, sometimes sharing the same ritualistic space. There is probably no better place to...
Article
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Previous research has linked certain types of modern spirituality, including New Age and Pagan, with either benign schizotypy or insecure attachment. While the first view emphasizes a positive aspect of spiritual believers' mental health (benign schizotypy), the second view emphasizes a negative aspect, namely the unhealthy emotional compensation a...
Article
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Background: Yoga and meditation have been shown to be effective in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety in healthy volunteers and psychiatric populations. Recent work has also indicated that yoga can improve cognitive-behavioural performance and control. Although there have been no controlled studies of the effects of yoga in a prison po...
Article
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Recent research on moral decision-making has suggested that many common moral judgments are based on immediate intuitions. However, some individuals arrive at highly counterintuitive utilitarian conclusions about when it is permissible to harm other individuals. Such utilitarian judgments have been attributed to effortful reasoning that has overcom...
Article
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Focusing on a contemporary conspiracy theory popularized in the novel The Da Vinci Code (Brown, 2002), we examined the underlying psychological factors and individual differences that may predict belief in conspiracy theories, and assessed such beliefs’ resistance to counterevidence. Our results suggest that belief in the Da Vinci Code conspiracy m...
Article
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Neuroimaging studies on moral decision-making have thus far largely focused on differences between moral judgments with opposing utilitarian (well-being maximizing) and deontological (duty-based) content. However, these studies have investigated moral dilemmas involving extreme situations, and did not control for two distinct dimensions of moral ju...
Article
Meta-analysis is now the accepted procedure for summarizing research literatures in areas of applied psychology. Because of the bias for publishing statistically significant findings, while usually rejecting nonsignificant results, our research literatures yield misleading answers to important quantitative questions (e.g., How much better is the av...
Article
Full-text available
Although religious belief is often claimed to help with physical ailments including pain, it is unclear what psychological and neural mechanisms underlie the influence of religious belief on pain. By analogy to other top-down processes of pain modulation we hypothesized that religious belief helps believers reinterpret the emotional significance of...
Chapter
Spirituality is deemed a universal feature of human experience which addresses a feeling of a transcendent force or presence, which need not be framed within any particular theological or belief system but can instead rely solely on the individual's experience. In recent years, the term ‘spirituality’ has been embraced by many scholars as distinct...
Chapter
This book provides a unique critical perspective on the changing nature of later life by examining the engagement of older people with consumer society in Britain since the 1960s.
Article
The New Age has been reported to be an exemplary religion of modernity, that emphasizes the importance of autonomy and self-development. Attempts to establish whether New Age ideas and practices were oriented toward self-transcendence or if, instead, they reinforced secular individualistic values and behaviors have become a central point of debate...
Article
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This article contributes to the ongoing debate about the motivational goals of New Age practices and beliefs by looking at descriptions of auto-biographical life events. Narratives from New Age, Catholic, and non-religious participants (N = 163) were analysed according to agency and communion types of motivations. New Age respondents were found to...