At first blush, the idea of thinking fast sounds desirable. In our culture, doing things quickly is often more highly valued than taking time. This preference translates into a tendency to give precedence to activities that do not require deep thought. Although it feels strange to have to make this argument, this preference for shallow thinking has had, and will continue to have, negative consequences for our culture, the evangelical subculture, and the broader church.
The idea of fast and slow thinking, however, is not new.1 In social psychology—and, more specifically, dual process theory—the distinction is drawn between “automatic” and “deliberate” thinking. Automatic thinking is nonconscious, unintentional, and efficient. Alternatively, deliberate thinking is above awareness, intentional, and takes more time.2
The use of automatic thinking is not an indicator of lower intelligence. In fact, given the sheer amount of information we are constantly taking in—and the various acts and activities we are engaged in at any point—it is essential that not everything we take in or do be processed through deliberate thought. Rather, automatic thinking is what frees us up to think slowly and deliberately about certain matters. Deliberate thinking is a limited resource that needs to be used wisely. This raises the question, “How do we think well?” Learning to think fast well involves devoting our thought—and ourselves—to certain things over time. Here, we will explore these questions while, at the same time, taking Jesus’s teachings seriously. If his way, his yoke, is light—and if experiencing the fullness of life centrally involves loving the Lord our God with our hearts, souls, and minds (that is, in a constant, single-minded way) and loving all our neighbors, including those we think of (often automatically) as enemies or as threats—then experiencing the fullness of life involves thinking slow and fast in a consistent way.3 It involves having “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) both in our armchairs and on the fly. But what does this involve? How can we devote ourselves to being single-minded, with Christ, even when thinking fast? What implications might this have for seminary professors and students? Let us start with common hurdles to thinking well.
Hurdle 1: Attribution Errors
A dual process model helps explain a wide range of human thought and behavior, including the way we make attributions for another person’s behavior; that is, the way we explain why someone behaves the way someone does. Considerable research shows we tend to make automatically—and without deliberate thought—what is called “the fundamental attribution error” or the way we perceive and come to treat others.4 It shapes our first impressions—whether we categorize someone as dispositionally good or bad—and this can be hard to change.
The fundamental attribution error, also called “the correspondence bias,” is the bias toward explaining the bad behavior of others in terms of their dispositions and personality, while explaining our own bad behavior in terms of the particulars of the situation.5 At the same time, we are also biased toward attributing our good behavior to our goodness.6 So we have a tendency to think automatically that others do bad because they are bad, while we do bad as a result of situational constraints. We can be quite self-serving when it comes to doling out blame. We have a natural tendency to be more generous in our self-assessments of personal failures than our attributions for the failures of others. This is in stark contrast with Christ’s teaching, “For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (Matt. 7:2 NRSV). More specifically, the fundamental attribution error pulls us away from loving our neighbor as ourselves and from living out Christ’s teaching that our weaknesses should not be seen as places for finding fault, but opportunities for God’s work to be manifested in each life.7
Hurdle 2: Confirmation Biases
A decision to seek—or not seek—additional information before drawing a conclusion might seem to be a deliberate process. But automatic processes shape our tendencies to seek out information and influence how we go about it. Two types of biases often influence this process.
The first is what Daniel Kahneman refers to as the “what you see is all there is” bias.8 We tend to have a pernicious and automatically activated belief that when asked for an opinion we need not seek additional information. The information we currently have is all the information there is or at least all that is needed to provide an answer. For example, if asked for an opinion on a political topic such as immigration, rather than acknowledging the nuance of a complicated issue, we are often quick to give a definitive answer without recognizing that our knowledge is limited. However, if we were to give it careful thought, it would be obvious that we do not have all the relevant information. There are few if any topics for which any of us has all the pertinent information available on the fly. Nevertheless, operating out of this bias, we often assume an authoritative position on a topic regardless of the amount of knowledge we possess.
This leads us to the second type of bias that comes into play, “confirmation bias.”9 When we do seek additional information on a topic, we tend to seek information that confirms our preexisting beliefs and conclusions; even when thinking automatically, we like to be right. Particularly relevant in the present age of social media and search engines, confirmation bias is also referred to as “hostile media bias,” reflecting our tendency to be drawn to media that confirms our beliefs.10 It is not that we consciously set out to avoid disconfirming information, but the automatic motivation to experience the positive associations of being right, and having others agree with us, often subconsciously overwhelms the desire for accuracy. In this case, the only way to ensure we gather the information needed to consider a topic deeply, judiciously, and accurately requires (a) a deliberate process of information gathering and (b) a deliberate process to seek out all of the pertinent and best information possible, including potentially disconfirming information.
As we have noted previously, people engage in deliberative processing if the topic is deemed important, which is usually judged in terms of relevancy to oneself.11 This, however, begs the question of how judgments of relevancy are made. Often this judgment is automatic, though, like most, this judgment can be made deliberately when we think it is important and take the time. Nevertheless, as Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Norbert Schwarz, and others observed, judgments of relevancy are often shaped by the ease with which a person can recall cases from memory.12 For example, if you are trying to judge whether a person is likely to behave dishonestly, you might consider the number of cases you can easily retrieve from memory of other “similar” people behaving dishonestly. If you can recall many cases, you will assume that this should be a relevant concern for you; if not, you set aside the concern. This sets up an availability bias. We tend to draw judgments on the basis of which memories readily come to mind.
But our ability to remember things is often disconnected from the actual base rate of events, that is, the rate at which they are likely to occur. This is because recall often involves heuristics that give preference to certain kinds of memories (for example, recency effects, primacy effects, emotional salience). At times, your memory may line up with base rates, but base rates are a more reliable measure than memory.
Hurdle 3: The Tendency toward Immediate Gratification
Walter Mischel famously describes the process by which children are able to stare down a desirable marshmallow in order to receive two marshmallows as a reward for waiting.13 To do this successfully, children employ strategies such as distraction, or they are able to view the marshmallow as something else, such as a cube. These successful strategies are the result of deliberate, rather than automatic, thinking. Similarly, as Daniel Wegner observes, when given the instruction to avoid “thinking about a white bear,” it becomes very hard to do so.14 The instruction itself tempts us to think about white bears. To then avoid thinking about white bears requires both deliberately generating a replacement thought (such as a pink bear) and actively keeping this replacement thought in mind. This is a taxing mental process. Individuals who have tried to “not think about” something they are tempted to think about know the mental fatigue this can cause. And mental fatigue makes giving into temptation more likely.
To illustrate, in a recent study people used smartphones to report immediate desires throughout their day. This included whether they were able to resist when these desires conflicted with their goals.15 Interestingly, the number of times a person had exercised self-control throughout the day negatively predicted success in resisting later temptations. Thus, the more our self-control has been exercised, the more likely we are to give into temptation, as self-control is a limited resource. As Mark Muraven and Roy Baumeister suggest, self-control is a “muscle that becomes exhausted with use.”16
In sum, being prone to attribution errors, confirmation biases, and immediate gratification, we are prone to not live, or think, as Christ taught us. Common automatic processes tend to pull us away from experiencing the fullness of life—and personal intimacy—into which God invites us: a life characterized by personal intimacy with God and others and by participation in what God is doing in our midst. The thread that seems to course through such a life is humility and an openness toward, and love for, God and all with whom we interact. In short, it is the posture of a “listening heart” throughout the moments and situations of daily life.17 But, as we confess, we are prone to not love the Lord our God with our heart, soul and mind nor to love our neighbors as ourselves. In keeping with a long Christian tradition of understanding communal practices and disciplines as means of grace, additional psychological studies indicate how our automatic thinking can be transformed. Our automatic biases can be changed; the automatic bias toward giving into temptation can be replaced with a tendency to not be tempted. So, let us explore some ways over these hurdles. From the outset, it is important to note that lasting change does not typically happen individually or in isolation. It happens communally.
Way 1: Being Present and Taking Time to Love Our Neighbors
Automatic biases are likely to prevail under situations of cognitive load,18 such as when a person is tired, hungry, angry, busy, stressed, or thinking about something else. This means that contemporary Americans are likely engaging in attribution errors, confirmation errors, and drawn toward immediate gratification. However, when in the right state and motivated, a person can reduce these errors.19 Part of this involves, as a matter of habit, being rested, slowing down, being present to or mindful of oneself, of others, and of situational influences. Interestingly, these actions and processes have historically been practiced as spiritual disciplines.20
Daniel Gilbert has observed that when we are rushed, our first, automatic tendency is to characterize people and thereby make attribution errors.21 But all is not lost. By taking time and being motivated to be mindful and to get things right (or closer to right), we can make deliberate corrections. With the proper patience, an awareness of ourselves and others, and motivation, we can deliberately think through which attributions we are likely to make without sufficient evidence and thus potentially in error. We are also able to pay attention to how situations are likely to influence others and make corrections to our initial assessments. In this way, through self-awareness and deliberate attention, we are able to show grace rather than judgment.
We can also reduce attribution errors by taking time to align others with our selves or to see others as our neighbors or even as brothers or sisters. As previously noted, the attributions one makes for one’s own behavior are different from the attributions made of or for others. For close others (with whom our self-concept is involved, such as children, siblings, spouse, parents), the attribution process is less likely to reflect the fundamental attribution error.22 So this error is reduced if one is motivated to associate oneself with another or to see shared characteristics, or characteristics shared with one’s close friends and family.
As a result, we should practice seeing “family resemblances” between ourselves and others. Likewise, in the case of confirmation biases, a deliberate effort to seek out ideas that contradict our own (and to understand what motivates others to hold these ideas) will reduce bias.23 This can be done by practicing other-oriented perspective-taking.24 In sum, we should deliberately practice being present to and loving our neighbors as ourselves as Jesus taught, starting with the way we think about others. Ultimately, what can motivate us to do this is having opportunities to be part of close communities that help participants live this way—Jesus’s way— and discovering that this really is the fullest, most deeply fulfilling way to live.
Way 2: Changing Automatic Biases and Tendencies through Habits and Practices
Adding to what was already argued, we also need to have daily habits and practices that nourish us and enable us to grow. We have to take seriously what Jesus says about his way of living in relation to God and all others: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29–30 NIV, italics added). Jesus’s way involves continually finding means to rest in God’s loving presence and work in both thought and behavior. This requires allowing various means of grace—in which God regularly and consistently works—to cultivate the dispositions of Christ in us. Social psychology helps illumine means of grace and their effects. Relying on them, on the other hand, takes practice and time and is typically social. They take effect in and through close relationships.
To illustrate, if a bias is readily activated automatically, the deliberate and repeated use of another conceptual schema—or new way of thinking and seeing the world—can eventually facilitate one’s replacing the bias with tendencies toward other automatic thoughts.25 So if our automatic bias is to apply a dispositional attribution first but we deliberately practice thinking and learning about how situations influence others, we eventually could come to see the reality of people’s situations more accurately and how those situations influence them.26 In this way, we might practice being “gentle” toward one another, as Christ is gentle. Likewise, given enough practice seeking out disconfirming information, our bias toward confirming our initial views could be changed. By deliberately practicing openness to reevaluating our initial thoughts and admitting when we are wrong (that is, by practicing humility), our automatic responses can come to express humility. We might come to be “humble in heart.”
Finally, as noted earlier, Muraven and Baumeister provide evidence that self control is like a muscle that can be exhausted with use. They have also observed that self-control is like a muscle, in that through training it can be strengthened.27 Repeatedly pairing thoughts about temptations and higher-order goals leads to the simultaneous automatic activation of both.28 As a result, because one’s goals and their positive associations are at the forefront of one’s awareness, a person is able to resist the temptation to indulge in immediate gratification without using the cognitive resources of deliberate thinking. Further, research suggests that those who regularly attend religious services are best able to engage in self-control, and neuroscience studies show that parts of the brain active during prayer are also active when engaging self-control.29 Thus, as Michael McCullough notes, “The rituals that religions have been encouraging for thousands of years seem to be a kind of anaerobic workout for self-control.”30
Some Practical Approaches for Seminary Professors
What social psychology is revealing about us has wide implications for the formation of clergy in seminary contexts. This being said, we want to explore briefly specifically how seminary professors might encourage their students to engage in deliberative practices that can transform automatic tendencies. These are practices that can change us so that, instead of:
(1a) judging others unfairly,
(2a) processing information incompletely, and
(3a) seeking gratification that is inconsistent with our highest goals, we might have the disposition to:
(1b) consider a person’s situation, (2b) seek opposing viewpoints, and
(3b) behave consistently with our highest goals and intentions.
In very few situations do people carve out distraction-free time to think, let alone to be present and mindful of oneself, of others, or of God’s presence. Today more than ever—rather than allowing space to be nourished—we are distracted with “empty-calorie” information consumption; typically, through our computers, phones, and watches. Ordinarily deep, deliberative habits and practices first get instantiated in social situations of minimal distraction. This makes educational communities, such as seminaries, particularly important for encouraging the kind of deliberative practices that can cultivate dispositional change not only for future ministers, but also for the congregations they will serve. Therefore, seminary professors and curricula should seek repeatedly to encourage and invite students to engage in these deliberative practices and cultivate new habits. Several best practices can help us do this more effectively.
Make Examples Relevant
Although seminary professors are given the privilege of a captive and interested audience that makes deliberative thought more likely, it is still incumbent upon the professor to add relevance. This helps prevent students from zoning out even in the face of minimal distractions. One would hope students, especially graduate level students preparing for the ministry, would not need a heavy-handed appeal to relevance, but it is risky to make this assumption. In fact, these days it seems to be wishful thinking, so some attempt to establish relevance needs to be made. Cues to relevance encourage attentive and deliberative thinking.31 However, when trying to find points of relevance, the temptation is often to use whatever comes to mind first, or most immediately, to establish prevalence and thus relevance to daily life. For example, if the pastor has been noticing the media attention given to the “opioid epidemic,” the pastor might be tempted to incorporate this into a sermon without knowing the prevalence of opioid use in the congregation. In social psychology, this is called the availability heuristic. The problem is, as noted earlier, this heuristic leads to the availability biases.32 Most often what readily comes to mind does not match up with actual prevalence or corresponding relevance; that is, it does not align with base rates or what tends to occur in daily life.
Given the importance of the task of teaching seminary students, it behooves professors to ensure that what would seem relevant to the students is in fact relevant. This data, however, might not be readily available in the existing literature, especially given the specific demographics of any one cohort of students. Therefore, it is incumbent on the professor to survey students (or even come to know them well enough) at the beginning of a course to determine what predispositions exist in the class. In this way, the professor can tailor examples and practices to target specific areas of growth relevant to enrolled students.
To illustrate, a seminary professor might isolate the types of congregants most likely to be on the receiving end of a negative dispositional attribution and help students consider the kinds of situations these people face. Similarly, a professor might help students seek out disconfirming information on topics that will help their conceptual growth where they need it most. Finally, a professor might tailor discussion of temptations to specific examples faced by enrolled students and help them develop practices, such as associating temptations with their highest aims, that can help them increase their tendency to act on their highest goals.33 It may also be beneficial to find base rates of behaviors, interests, and attitudes of church populations, so that seminary students can prepare to address relevant areas of growth in their future congregants, perhaps even by implementing practices they are learning to use themselves.
Helping students intentionally do and practice these things, will (a) raise their self-awareness; (b) help them experience firsthand the benefits of growth in these areas together, as a community, so they are motivated to continue growing; and (c) give them tools to continue to grow. And these are three good predictors for future growth and positive change.34
Being motivated to generate counter arguments also facilitates attentive and deliberative thinking. Professors can motivate students by encouraging them to engage with views that oppose their own or go against their initial attitudes, intuitions, or feelings.35 Given that people only rarely seek out new information (“what you see is all there is” bias) and that the information they do seek is likely to be consistent with their preexisting views (confirmation bias)—seminary offers a unique opportunity to challenge existing automatic thinking and attitudes as they relate to attributions, information seeking, and immediate gratification.
One might start from perspectives, or by offering perspectives and examples, that challenge students’ automatic judgments, attitudes, and affective-based moral views, where these need challenging. For example, students who hold an unwavering view of predestination might well read material that advocates for free will. Further, professors might encourage students to develop close relationships, or have immersion experiences, that challenge their attitudes and perspective.
Although a person is unlikely to relinquish a belief the first time it is challenged, that person is likely to have to engage in deliberative processing, which can start the change process. Additionally, providing opportunities to form personal relationships with people who hold differing perspectives and attitudes also promotes deliberation and change.36 This can cause strongly held attitudes and beliefs to weaken, though of course strong attitudes are difficult to give up. In this way, beliefs are like possessions.37
Repetition in Everyday Life
Even more than efforts to encourage deliberative processing, repetition is required to replace negative, automatically activated attitudes. In fact, develop ing stable habits, including habits of thought, requires repetition across everyday contexts and situations.38 As a result, various situational cues become associated with certain ways of responding and influence preparatory neural states that make these responses more likely.39 This is true not just of ways of thinking, but also of emotional responses, attitudes, and behavioral tendencies. In this way, by repeating certain ways of thinking or behaving, they can become dispositional. That is, they can become stable tendencies across life’s ever-changing landscape. In this case, seminary professors need to invite students into daily practices that include considering a person’s situation before making an attribution, seeking out disconfirming information, and slowing down to meditate on the link between one’s highest goals and intentions and temptations. They should find communal ways to help their students repeatedly implement these practices across the moments and situations of daily life. In other words, they should help their students train.40 For this, we have a rich Christian tradition of spiritual disciplines that might be pressed into service.
In his book The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt presents a dual process model of moral decisions he metaphorically describes as “a rider on an elephant.” In this metaphor, the elephant is the very strong affective component of moral attitudes, and the rider is the cognitive, deliberate component. The rider of the elephant is not often successful in taking the elephant where it does not want to go. As a consequence, according to Haidt, much of the time moral decisions are affect-driven. We tend to misattribute the cause of a thought or behavior to a cognitive reason because this sounds right to us. (No one chooses to believe that one’s moral decisions are just emotional whims.)41 If this model is accurate, often moral decisions are not the result of a careful consideration of the relevant arguments. Instead, they stem from affectively based attitudes, which may have been acquired early in life without much reason at all.
Under this scenario, if individuals have early positive experiences with a Christian community, they may later dogmatically cling to the tenets of that community and, in turn, feel threatened from outside forces. This affectively based attitude may close them off from intellectual curiosity—from examining and exploring the facts. It may also close them off from developing relationships with and otherwise showing love toward others who are not like them or do not share their beliefs or attitudes. When this is the end of the story, faith is like a seed shallowly planted on rocky ground—threatened to be washed away in the face of a potential challenge—and never growing deep roots or flourishing.
However, the research we have discussed here challenges the assumption that this is the way things have to be. The elephant does not have to be a static entity. We do not have to live as slaves of passion. Instead, given repeated exposure and discipline, the rider can not only better direct the elephant; the rider can participate in the transformation of the desires of the elephant itself. Being in certain states as a matter of habit—and engaging in daily practices together—can make it easier automatically to love God and others in thought, word, and deed. These are ways of daily and repeatedly aligning ourselves with Christ in the garden of Gethsemane and saying, “Father … not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42 NIV). They are ways of dying to self and experiencing new life. Over time and by opening ourselves to consistent means of grace, both “rider” and “elephant” can come to have “the mind of Christ,” and we can experience the fullness of life that comes with it. This is a contagious and motivating experience. Dual process theory helps us see the depths to which this experience requires renewal. As a result, it can also enrich the ways in which we surrender to being renewed daily.
Cite this article
- Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).
- A. Bargh, “The Four Horsemen of Automaticity: Intention, Awareness, Efficiency, and Control as Separate Issues,” in Handbook of Social Cognition, 2nd ed., eds. Robert Wyer and Thomas Srull (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1994), 1–40.
- See Matt. 22:36–39.
- Edward E. Jones and Victor A. Harris, “The Attribution of Attitudes,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 3.1 (1967): 1–24.
- Lee Ross, “The Intuitive Psychologist and His Shortcomings: Distortions in the Attribution Process,” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 10 (1977): 173–220.
- Keith W. Campbell and Constantine Sedikides, “Self-Threat Magnifies the Self-Serving Bias: A Meta-Analytic Integration,” Review of General Psychology 3.1 (1999): 23–43.
- 7See John 9:1–12.
- Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow.
- Raymond S. Nickerson, “Confirmation Bias: A Ubiquitous Phenomenon in Many Guises,” Review of General Psychology 2.2 (1998): 175–220.
- Robert P. Vallone, Lee Ross, and Mark R. Lepper, “The Hostile Media Phenomenon: Biased Perception and Perceptions of Media Bias in Coverage of the Beirut Massacre,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 49.3 (1985): 577–585.
- Richard E. Petty and John T. Cacioppo, “The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion,” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 19 (1986): 123–205.
- Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, “Availability: A Heuristic for Judging Frequency and Probability,” Cognitive Psychology 5.2 (1973): 207–232; Norbert Schwarz et al., “Ease of Retrieval as Information: Another Look at the Availability Heuristic,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 61.2 (1991): 195–202.
- Walter Mischel, Ebbe B. Ebbesen, and Antonette Raskoff Zeiss, “Cognitive and Attentional Mechanisms in Delay of Gratification,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 21.2 (1972): 204–218.
- Daniel Wegner et al., “Paradoxical Effects of Thought Suppression,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 53.1 (1987): 5–13.
- Wilhelm Hofmann et al., “Everyday Temptations: An Experience Sampling Study of Desire, Conflict, and Self-Control,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 102.6 (2012): 1318–1335.
- Mark Muraven and Roy F. Baumeister, “Self-Regulation and Depletion of Limited Resources: Does Self-Control Resemble a Muscle?” Psychological Bulletin 126.2 (2000): 247–259.
- See 1 Kings 3:9.
- John Sweller, “Cognitive Load during Problem Solving: Effects on Learning,” Cognitive Science 12.2 (1988): 257–285.
- Daniel T. Gilbert and Patrick S. Malone, “The Correspondence Bias,” Psychological Bulletin 117.1 (1995): 21–38.
- St. Benedict, The Rule of Saint Benedict (New York: Doubleday, 1975); St. John of the Cross, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1991); Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York: Doubleday, Image, 1971).
- Daniel T. Gilbert, “Thinking Lightly about Others: Automatic Components of the Social Inference Process,” in Unintended Thought, eds. James S. Uleman and John A. Bargh (New York: Guilford Press, 1989), 189–211.
- Constantine Sedikides et al., “The Self-Serving Bias in Relational Context,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74.2 (1998): 378–386.
- Christina Schwind et al., “Preference-Inconsistent Recommendations: An Effective Approach for Reducing Confirmation Bias and Stimulating Divergent Thinking?,” Computers & Education 58.2 (2012): 787–796.
- Daniel C. Batson, Shannon Early, and Giovanni Salvarani, “Perspective Taking: Imagining How Another Feels versus Imaging How You Would Feel,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 23.7 (1997): 751–758.
- Nilanjana Dasgupta and Shaki Asgari, “Seeing Is Believing: Exposure to Counterstereotypic Women Leaders and Its Effect on the Malleability of Automatic Gender Stereotyping,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 40.5 (2004): 642–658.
- Philip E. Tetlock, “Accountability: A Social Check on the Fundamental Attribution Error,” Social Psychology Quarterly (1985): 227–236.
- Muraven and Baumeister, “Self-Regulation and Depletion of Limited Resources.”
- Ayelet Fishbach, Ronald S. Friedman, and Arie W. Kruglanski, “Leading Us Not into Temptation: Momentary Allurements Elicit Overriding Goal Activation,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84.2 (2003): 296–309.
- Michael E. McCullough and Brian L. B. Willoughby, “Religion, Self-Regulation, and Self- Control: Associations, Explanations, and Implications,” Psychological Bulletin 135.1 (2009): 69–93.
- Cited in John Tierney, “For Good Self-Control, Try Getting Religious about It,” New York Times (December 30, 2008).
- Petty and Cacioppo, “Elaboration Likelihood Model,” 123–205.
- Tversky and Kahneman, “Availability: A Heuristic for Judging,” 207-232.
- Hofmann et al., “Everyday Temptations.”
- Albert Bandura, Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control (New York: W. H. Freeman, 1997).
- William J. McGuire, “Resistance to Persuasion Conferred by Active and Passive Prior Refutation of the Same and Alternative Counterarguments,” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 63.2 (1961): 326–332.
- Stefania Paolini, Miles Hewstone, and Ed Cairns, “Direct and Indirect Intergroup Friendship Effects: Testing the Moderating Role of the Affective-Cognitive Bases of Prejudice,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 33.10 (2007): 1406–1420.
- Robert P. Abelson, “Beliefs Are Like Possessions,” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 16.3 (1986): 223–250.
- Robert J. Rydell and Bertram Gawronski, “I Like You, I Like You Not: Understanding the Formation of Context-Dependent Automatic Attitudes,” Cognition and Emotion 23.6 (2009): 1118–1152; Wendy Wood and David T. Neal, “The Habitual Consumer,” Journal of Consumer Psychology 19.4 (2009): 579–592.
- Daniel Thoenissen, Karl Zilles, and Ivan Toni, “Differential Involvement of Parietal and Precentral Regions in Movement Preparation and Motor Intention,” Journal of Neuroscience 22.20 (2002): 9024–9034.
- Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives (New York: HarperCollins, 1991).
- Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York: Pantheon, 2012).