Northwestern College psychology prof publishes article

Dr. Laird Edman, professor of psychology at Northwestern College, has recently published an article, “Primed Analytic Thought and Religiosity: The Importance of Individual Characteristics,” in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, a top journal in the area of psychology and religion, produced by the American Psychological Association.

Working in collaboration with Dr. Julie Yonker from Calvin College, Dr. James Creswell of Booth University College and Dr. Justin Barrett of Fuller Theological Seminary, Edman conducted a study of over 2,500 participants from across the United States. Their study was a response to research published in 2012 that asserted when people are primed to think analytically, their belief in God declines.

“We thought the article, which got a lot of national and international attention, was simplistic in its assertions and did not get the whole story,” says Edman. “We found almost the opposite of what the original study found—in our sample, priming analytic thinking tended to increase or decrease religious belief depending upon the prior beliefs of participants.”

A member of Northwestern’s faculty since 2002, Edman received the college’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2008. He specializes in the cognitive science of religion, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and teaching and assessing critical thinking. He has presented his research, workshops and seminars at the annual conferences of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, National Collegiate Honors Council, the Society for Scientific Study and American Educational Research Association.

A graduate of Luther College, Edman earned master’s degrees in English literature and counseling psychology at the University of Norte Dame. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota.