Bastiaan T. Rutjens's research while affiliated with University of Amsterdam and other places

Publications (67)

Preprint
Vaccine scepticism poses a significant global health risk, which has again become clear during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Previous research has identified spirituality as an important contributor to general vaccine scepticism. In the present manuscript, we assessed whether spirituality similarly contributes to scepticism towards Covid-19 vaccin...
Preprint
We review recent work on the relationship between science rejection and conspiracy beliefs. We distinguish between conspiracy beliefs about science specifically and the link between general conspiracist worldviews and science rejection. The first imply the scientific community as the center of a conspiratorial endeavor to misrepresent scientific fi...
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The study of moral judgements often centres on moral dilemmas in which options consistent with deontological perspectives (that is, emphasizing rules, individual rights and duties) are in conflict with options consistent with utilitarian judgements (that is, following the greater good based on consequences). Greene et al. (2009) showed that psychol...
Preprint
The current paper presents and tests psychological distance to science (PSYDISC) as a domain-general predictor of science skepticism. Drawing on the concept of psychological distance, PSYDISC reflects the extent to which individuals perceive science as a tangible undertaking conducted by people similar to oneself (social), with effects in the here...
Preprint
Van Stekelenburg and colleagues (2021) show that boosting understanding of scientific consensus reduces false beliefs about genetically modified foods (GMOs). Specifically, demonstrating the value of scientific consensus and providing information about scientific consensus on GMOs helps to correct misperceptions about GMOs being harmful. However, t...
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People tend to evaluate information from reliable sources more favourably, but it is unclear exactly how perceivers’ worldviews interact with this source credibility effect. In a large and diverse cross-cultural sample (N = 10,195 from 24 countries), we presented participants with obscure, meaningless statements attributed to either a spiritual gur...
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An increasing number of people are concerned about eating meat, despite enjoying doing so. In the present research, we examined whether the desire to resolve this ambivalence about eating meat leads to a reduction in meat consumption. Our model of ambivalence-motivated meat reduction proposes that the pervasive nature of evaluative conflict motivat...
Preprint
Full-text available
Individuals oftentimes lack personal control over risks and depend on powerful others to manage a risk for them. This lack of control could lead individuals to derive risk evaluations from beliefs about the trustworthiness of powerful others, which might explain the vital effect of trust on risk perception. Three studies (total N = 1,961) provide e...
Article
Recent research has identified spirituality as an important contributor to vaccine scepticism and low faith in science, particularly in WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) nations. In the present study, we further tested the generalizability of these findings in a religious South-Eastern European country – Greece, with mo...
Article
Full-text available
Van Stekelenburg and colleagues (2021) show that boosting understanding of scientific consensus reduces false beliefs about genetically modified foods (GMOs). Specifically, demonstrating the value of scientific consensus and providing information about scientific consensus on GMOs helps to correct misperceptions about GMOs being harmful. However, t...
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Full-text available
Factors that contribute to the well-established ideology gap in climate change beliefs (i.e., conservatives’ scepticism about climate change and its severity) remain underexplored. In the present research, we propose that there are differences in the consideration of future consequences, as well as the perception of climate change in time, between...
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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...
Preprint
We examined how different types of communication influence people’s responses to health advice. Specifically, we tested whether presenting Covid-19 prevention advice (i.e., washing hands) as either originating from the government or a scientific source would affect people’s trust and intentions to comply with the advice. We also tested the effects...
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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...
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The global spread of antiscience beliefs, misinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories is posing a threat to the well-being of individuals and societies worldwide. Accordingly, research on why people increasingly doubt science and endorse “alternative facts” is flourishing. Much of this work has focused on identifying cognitive biases and ind...
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Efforts to understand and remedy the rejection of science are impeded by lack of insight into how it varies in degree and in kind around the world. The current work investigates science skepticism in 24 countries ( N = 5,973). Results show that while some countries stand out as generally high or low in skepticism, predictors of science skepticism a...
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In the current paper, we argue that to get a better understanding of the psychological antecedents of COVID-related science skepticism, it is pivotal to review what is known about the (social) psychology of science skepticism. Recent research highlighting the role of ideologies and worldviews in shaping science skepticism can inform research questi...
Preprint
Full-text available
People tend to evaluate information from reliable sources more favourably, but it is unclear exactly how perceivers' worldviews interact with this source credibility effect. Here, we present data from a cross-cultural study in which individuals (N = 10,195) from a religiously and culturally diverse sample of 24 countries were presented with obscure...
Preprint
Recent years have not only seen growing public distrust in science, but also in the people conducting science. Yet, attitudes toward scientists remain largely unexplored, and the limited body of literature that exists points to an interesting ambivalence. While survey data suggest scientists to be highly respected, research has found scientists to...
Article
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Control is a fundamental motive in people's lives and previous research converges on the notion that lack of control is aversive because it undermines epistemic beliefs in the nonrandomness of the world. A key motivation underlying control is therefore the need to perceive the world as structured. However, strong individual differences exist in the...
Preprint
An increasing number of people is concerned about the ethics of eating meat despite enjoying doing so. In the present research, we examined whether the desire to resolve this ambivalence about eating meat leads to a reduction in meat consumption. Our model of ambivalence-motivated meat reduction proposes that the pervasive nature of evaluative conf...
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...
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We report the results of an empirical investigation of the extent to which supernatural believers endorse a porous conception of the mind, i.e., the belief that one’s thoughts can be directly perceived by others. We developed a porous theory of mind (PToM) scale, tested its factor structure by using both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses...
Preprint
In the present research we shed light onto processes that may contribute to the decline in trust in experts and other authorities. In a study focusing on the risks of nanotechnology in food, we orthogonally manipulated personal control (high vs low), the expertise of a source communicating about the risks (high vs low) and the extent to which the s...
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Recent work points to the heterogeneous nature of science skepticism. However, most research on science skepticism has been conducted in the United States. The current work addresses the generalizability of the knowledge acquired so far by investigating individuals from a Western European country (The Netherlands). Results indicate that various pre...
Preprint
We report the results of an empirical investigation of the extent to which supernatural believers endorse a porous conception of the mind, i.e., the belief that one’s thoughts can be directly perceived by others. We developed a porous theory of mind (PToM) scale, tested its factor structure by using both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses...
Chapter
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This chapter reviews work on the shared psychological functions of science and religion. In doing so, we focus on three of these functions that are of particular importance to human functioning: explanation, control, and meaning. The research that is reviewed indicates that both belief systems can help to address motivational needs pertaining to th...
Preprint
Recent work on the ideological antecedents of science skepticism points to its heterogeneous nature. However, most of what we know about science skepticism is based on data collected in the United States. Here we report two studies aimed at addressing the generalizability of this knowledge, by extending earlier work on the heterogeneity of science...
Article
Denmark and the Netherlands are both countries with a Christian heritage, where only a minority of the population are actively religious. Behind the similarities, there are also striking differences. While Danish Christians tend to be largely nominal members, Dutch Christians are more likely to believe in God, pray and attend church regularly. Prev...
Article
Post‐apocalyptic scenarios provide the basis for popular television shows, video games, and books. These scenarios may be popular because people have their own beliefs and visions about the apocalypse and the need to prepare. The prevalence of such beliefs might also hold societal relevance and serve as a type of projective test of personality. How...
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Genetically modified (GM)foods are often met with harsh public opposition, though little research has attempted to understand why this is. The research that does exist has focused on identifying the role of immutable beliefs, such as morality and politics, which are difficult to change. Therefore, research may benefit from identifying mutable predi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Much research on moral judgment is centered on moral dilemmas in which deontological perspectives (i.e., emphasizing rules, individual rights and duties) are in conflict with utilitarian judgements (i.e., following the greater good defined through consequences). A central finding of this field Greene et al. showed that psychological and situational...
Preprint
Genetically modified (GM) foods are often met with harsh public opposition, though little research has attempted to understand why this is. The research that does exist has focused on identifying the role of immutable beliefs, such as morality and politics, which are difficult to change. Therefore, research may benefit from identifying mutable pred...
Chapter
Full-text available
Science is valued for its basic and applied functions: producing knowledge and contributing to the common good. Much of the time, these are perceived to work in harmony. However, science is sometimes seen as capable of subverting the common good, by facilitating dangerous technologies (e.g., weapons of mass destruction) or exerting a malign influen...
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Many topics that scientists investigate speak to people's ideological worldviews. We report three studies—including an analysis of large-scale survey data— in which we systematically investigate the ideological antecedents of general faith in science and willingness to support science, as well as of science skepticism of climate change, vaccination...
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Dijksterhuis and van Knippenberg (1998) reported that participants primed with an intelligent category (“professor”) subsequently performed 13.1% better on a trivia test than participants primed with an unintelligent category (“soccer hooligans”). Two unpublished replications of this study by the original authors, designed to verify the appropriate...
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As science continues to progress, attitudes towards science seem to become ever more polarized. Whereas some put their faith in science, others routinely reject and dismiss scientific evidence. The current chapter provides an integration of recent research on how people evaluate science. We organize our chapter along three research topics that are...
Article
When is an individual likely to be accepted or rejected by a group? This research investigates responses towards prospective group members depending on how they compare to the group in terms of their perceived morality or competence. Because morality is of particular importance to groups, we hypothesized that the perceived morality of prospective g...
Chapter
As science continues to progress, attitudes toward science seem to become ever more polarized. Whereas some put their faith in science, others routinely reject and dismiss scientific evidence. This chapter provides an integration of recent research on how people evaluate science. We organize our chapter along three research topics that are most rel...
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The present study sheds light on the contentious relation between religions and prosociality, by comparing self-reported altruistic and prosocial behavior among a group of Catholic and Protestant believers. We found that denomination was strongly related to strength of religious beliefs, afterlife beliefs, free-will beliefs and self-reported prosoc...
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Do people think that scientists are bad people? Although surveys find that science is a highly respected profession, a growing discourse has emerged regarding how science is often judged negatively. We report ten studies (N = 2328) that investigated morality judgments of scientists and compared those with judgments of various control groups, includ...
Article
The illusion of control can be defined as the erroneous belief that one's actions cause a specific outcome, whereas sense of agency refers to the subjective feeling of authorship over one's actions. In the present study we investigated the development of illusory control and sense of agency. A novel card-guessing game was developed in which 7- to-1...
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The current paper reports an investigation of the existential function of belief in progress, specifically faith in social and moral advancement. We argue that for belief in progress to provide a sense of purpose and significance in our world, it must concern humanity and society and not merely the technological advances humankind accomplishes. We...
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Many people are reluctant to behave in environmentally friendly ways. One possible explanation might be that the motivation to behave in environmentally friendly ways is undermined by the way scientific progress is overstated in the popular media. Four experiments show that portraying science as rapidly progressing—and thus enabling society to cont...
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In evolutionary approaches to religion it is argued that belief in supernatural agents is strongly related to a perceptual bias to over-detect the presence of agents in the environment. We report five experiments that investigate whether processing concepts about supernatural agents facilitates agency detection. Participants were presented with poi...
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Ambivalence is a presumably unpleasant experience, and coming to terms with it is an intricate part of human existence. It is argued that ambivalent attitude holders cope with their ambivalence through compensatory perceptions of order. We first show that ambivalence leads to an increase in (visual) perceptions of order (Study 1). In Study 2 we con...
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People are motivated to maintain the belief that they live in an orderly world in which things are under control. Previous research has shown that perceptions of order can be maintained via two routes: affirming personal control over one’s life and future outcomes, and bolstering one’s belief in external systems or agents that exert control over th...
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Stage theories are prominent and controversial in science. One possible reason for their appeal is that they provide order and predictability. Participants in Experiment 1 rated stage theories as more orderly and predictable (but less credible) than continuum theories. In Experiments 2-5, we showed that order threats increase the appeal of stage th...
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Research derived from terror management theory (TMT) has shown that people's efforts to manage the awareness of death often have deleterious consequences for the individual and society. The present article takes a closer look at the conceptual foundations of TMT and considers some of the more beneficial trajectories of the terror management process...
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Previous work showed that concrete experiences of weight influence people’s judgments of how important certain issues are. In line with an embodied simulation account but contrary to a metaphor-enriched perspective, this work shows that perceived importance of an object influences perceptions of weight. Two studies manipulated information about a b...
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In contemporary secular societies, ideas of an afterlife have become quite diverse, ranging from secular to religious and spiritual conceptions. In this article, an experimental study is reported in which the postself, a person's imagination of an after-death reputation, is tested as a protective buffer against mortality salience effects within a l...
Article
A simple reminder of the fact that we do not always control life's outcomes reduced people's belief in Darwin's Theory of Evolution. This control-threat resulted in a relative preference for theories of life that thwart randomness, either by stressing the role of a controlling God (Intelligent Design) or by presenting the Theory of Evolution in ter...
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This article focuses on the relation between death and religion in a secularized society. In the Netherlands, traditional religious membership has declined significantly together with traditional belief systems. This study investigates the relation between the experience of death and religious affiliation (unaffiliated, Catholic, and Protestant) in...
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The present research shows that belief in progress helps to alleviate the aversive experience of low levels of control. When control is low, believing in progress provides people with the promise of future control in a broader sense. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants lacking control disagreed more with an essay on the illusory nature of human pr...
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Justifying social systems and defending cultural worldviews may seem to resemble the same human need to protect what is known and predictable. The current paper would like to argue that these society-supporting tendencies concern two different forms of self-regulation: the need for control and the need for meaning. Results show higher levels of sys...
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Terror management theory argues that people can cope with the psychological threat of their own death by bolstering faith in their cultural worldviews. Based on the notion that-since the Age of Enlightenment-belief or faith in progress has become one of the defining qualities of modern Western thinking, we expected that this belief serves as a buff...

Citations

... The dataset provided to the analysts featured data from 10,535 participants from 24 countries collected in 2019. The data were collected as part of the cross-cultural religious replication project (see also Hoogeveen et al., 2021;Hoogeveen & van Elk, 2018). The dataset contained measures of religiosity, well-being, perceived cultural norms of religion, as well as some demographic items. ...
... How institutionalized religion influences vaccine attitudes and actual vaccination is an important question. Religious considerations play an important role in vaccine attitudes, beliefs, and decisions (Natan et al., 2011;Rutjens et al., 2021). Prior research on vaccination intentions and behaviors has documented noteworthy associations with affiliation with an organized religion and level of religiosity (i.e. ...
... In three studies, we show that a sense of personal control moderates the effect of trust on evaluations of risks, such that trust attributions about powerful others managing a risk become relevant to evaluative reactions only if individuals lack control over the risk. This finding held irrespective of potentially alternative explanations such as perceived knowledge (Siegrist & Cvetkovich, 2000), the affect heuristic (Slovic et al., 2004), denial of responsibility (e.g., Gosling et al., 2006), and political orientation (e.g., Većkalov et al., 2021). Moreover, the conditional effect of trust seems to be driven by beliefs in benevolence of powerful others rather than other trustworthiness components or trustees (Studies 2 and 3), which further supports the idea that evaluations of risk can be derived from beliefs about the willingness and ability of others to resolve a risk. ...
... Several studies carried out, however, have found a moderate prevalence of anxiety and depression [41,45,[57][58][59]. Furthermore, a number of articles documented a very low prevalence of anxiety and depression [57,60,75,77,119,140,149]. Notably, separate studies carried out to describe the mental health of frontline workers reported a high rate of anxiety, depression, and PTSD [11,17,151,152]. ...
... Nonetheless, scientific information is not always well accepted, because often there are certain groups which emerge, who reject science itself (Mwangi, 2019). Rutjens et al. (2021) and Rutjens et al. (2022) explained that the spread of viewpoints which reject science (anti-science), conspiracy theories, and a variety of reports containing hoaxes, may threaten the well-being of the individual and of the public, throughout the world. ...
... Nonetheless, scientific information is not always well accepted, because often there are certain groups which emerge, who reject science itself (Mwangi, 2019). Rutjens et al. (2021) and Rutjens et al. (2022) explained that the spread of viewpoints which reject science (anti-science), conspiracy theories, and a variety of reports containing hoaxes, may threaten the well-being of the individual and of the public, throughout the world. ...
... Science skepticism. Societal crises also illustrate that conspiracy belief can become apparent in science skepticism, as shown during the COVID-19 pandemic (Rutjens et al., 2021), or during the climate change discourse . Science skepticism can also be related to populist attitudes (Eberl et al., 2021;Hameleers and Van der Meer, 2021;Stecula and Pickup, 2021). ...
... We also found no effect of Source, which was surprising given that past studies have found that pseudo-profound bullshit is rated as more profound when attributed to credible or expert sources than when no source is given (Gligorić & Vilotijević, 2019;Hoogeveen et al., 2020;Ilić & Damnjanović, 2021). However, much of the bullshit that people are exposed to is encountered online (Simpson, 2019) and the way that we presented our stimuli is noticeably dissimilar to the visual formats more common to the ways in which misinformation is often presented online, particularly on social media (e.g., memes, fake news headlines, social media comments, etc.). ...
... We devised four items to measure personal control (based on Ajzen, 2002;Armitage & Conner, 1999;Noordewier & Rutjens, 2021;Zur & Klöckner, 2014): "How much personal control do you feel you have over the impact that your meat consumption has on the world?", "How much personal control do you feel you have over the impact that your meat consumption has on your personal health?", "How much control over outcomes in daily life do you experience at this moment in time?", "How confident are you that if you wanted to, you could reduce meat in your diet?" (i.e., behavioral control; BC). ...
... Given that consumers engaging in motivated ignorance are generally more ambivalent toward eating animal products (Berndsen & Van Der Pligt, 2004;Onwezen & van der Weele, 2016) and negative about conventional meat production systems (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2019), they may be more willing to substitute meat with alternative proteins (e.g. Quorn, tofu, seitan, soy schnitzel) (Hartmann & Siegrist, 2019) and eat a more plant-based diet after effortful information seeking if the harms related to animal-based diets can no longer be ignored (Pauer et al., 2020;. ...