Several years before Pope Francis became pope of the Catholic Church in 2013, psychologists began to debunk the idea that being more educated meant a person was less likely to be religious. Instead, a new social psychology theory—one that had little to do with education level—arose. According to dual process theory, people are either deliberative or intuitive when they make decisions. People who are more deliberative tend to carefully think things through and find a rational reason for their choices, while people who are more intuitive do what appears to feel right.
David Rand, who leads Yale University’s Human Cooperation Laboratory and studies decision-making, was one of the first to suggest that intuition and deliberation were key to a person’s religiosity in a paper he co-wrote in 2011.
In the paper, Rand and his colleagues used the Cognitive Reflection Test, which measured a person’s levels of intuition or deliberation by how they answered questions. Intuitive answers were compelling but often not correct. (For example, in the riddle of whether a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks is heavier, the intuitive person might see the weight disconnect between bricks and feathers, hone in on it immediately and answer that the bricks are heavier. The deliberative person might step back, consider the question, notice that both options are measured at a pound and deliver the correct answer: neither.)