Cognition and Culture
Over the past several decades, a new paradigm focused on cognition and culture has emerged in the social and behavioral sciences. The essence of this paradigm is two-pronged, emphasizing both the ways in which dynamic cultural themes become internalized and how those internalized beliefs and values, typically referred to as worldviews, affect behavior, primarily at the unconscious level. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate that the theories and methods of the culture and cognition paradigm hold promise for better understanding the mechanisms by which religion and spirituality affect individuals’ lives as they traverse the life course from childhood to old age. A significant component of culture and cognition research has focused on moral worldviews and their associations with a variety of outcomes. One consistently observed moral worldview is a religious worldview. Research documents strong relationships between religious worldviews and some outcomes, including subjective well-being, prosocial behavior, and political orientations. These represent only a small subset of potentially important outcomes. Possible age changes and cohort differences in religious worldviews have not been examined and are priority topics for future research.