Karma or Immortality: Can Religion Influence Space-Time Mappings?

Cognitive Science 42 (3):1041-1056 (2018)

Abstract
People implicitly associate the “past” and “future” with “front” and “back” in their minds according to their cultural attitudes toward time. As the temporal focus hypothesis proposes, future-oriented people tend to think about time according to the future-in-front mapping, whereas past-oriented people tend to think about time according to the past-in-front mapping. Whereas previous studies have demonstrated that culture exerts an important influence on people's implicit spatializations of time, we focus specifically on religion, a prominent layer of culture, as potential additional influence on space-time mappings. In Experiment 1 and 2, we observed a difference between the two religious groups, with Buddhists being more past-focused and more frequently conceptualizing the past as ahead of them and the future as behind them, and Taoists more future-focused and exhibiting the opposite space-time mapping. In Experiment 3, we administered a religion prime, in which Buddhists were randomly assigned to visualize the picture of the Buddhas of the Past or the Future. Results showed that the pictorial icon of Dipamkara increased participants' tendency to conceptualize the past as in front of them. In contrast, the pictorial icon of Maitreya caused a dramatic increase in the rate of future-in-front responses. In Experiment 4, the causal effect of religion on implicit space-time mappings was replicated in atheists. Taken together, these findings provide converging evidence for the hypothesized causal role of religion for temporal focus in determining space-time mappings.
Keywords Buddhism  Metaphor  Religion  Space‐time mappings  Taoism  Temporal focus  Time
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DOI 10.1111/cogs.12579
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Metaphors We Live By.George Lakoff & Mark Johnson - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 40 (2):208-210.
The Tangle of Space and Time in Human Cognition.Rafael Núñez & Kensy Cooperrider - 2013 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17 (5):220-229.
Mirror Reading Can Reverse the Flow of Time.Daniel Casasanto & Roberto Bottini - 2014 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143 (2):473-479.

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