Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Stephen Poteau, PhD

Second Advisor

Alexa Bonacquisti, PhD

Third Advisor

Michael Roberts, PsyD


The aim of the present study was to examine what intuitions individuals have regarding factors related to religious belief and non-belief. This was achieved via the convergence of experimental philosophy and social psychology research paradigms. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three vignette conditions depicting either a theistic, agnostic, or atheistic universe or a non-vignette control condition. Participants reported intuitions in the context of the universe to which they were assigned on factors of death anxiety, awe, pure evil, and fine-tuning. Responses were compared across vignette conditions and by category of belief. It was hypothesized that group differences regarding death anxiety, existence of pure evil, fine-tuning, and awe would emerge among theists, agnostics, and atheists in the no vignette control condition. Additionally, it was predicted that group-based directional differences would occur between universe vignettes on the factors of interest. Findings were mixed and demonstrated factors on which these groups meaningfully converge and diverge. This study sought to reveal unique intuitions of those varying along the theism-atheism spectrum, weigh in on outstanding questions in the current research literature, and contribute to the nascent field of experimental philosophy.