What do you think of if/when you think of atheists? If you’re American there’s a good chance the thought of atheism inspires further thoughts about death, per Discovery News:
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Atheists consistently rank among the lowest of the low in the court of American public opinion. Now, research suggests one reason why: Thinking about atheists reminds people of death.
In fact, prompting people to think about atheism triggered death-related thoughts just as strongly as, well, directly prompting people to think about death, a new study finds. These death thoughts help trigger a subconscious dislike of atheists, said study leader Corey Cook, a social psychologist at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Not only do thoughts of death put people in a negative frame of mind, Cook told Live Science, but they also prompt people to hold more tightly onto their own values.
“There’s a little circular thing going on where encountering atheism will make people grasp their values closer and then become more negative because atheists are perceived as not having values,” Cook said.