In a somewhat unique study, Pechey and Halligan ask the question of how people actually define belief. Although the term is used widely in society and science, few, if any, have asked the fundamental question, “What is meant when you say you believe?” In order to answer the question, the researchers polled over 1,000 British participants.
Results after analysis indicated that belief appears to hinge on the concept of “A framework for explaining how things are or should be” (p. 92). These researchers also found that most of the population endorsed belief concepts such as influencing thoughts and feelings not temporary or passing, influencing your thoughts and behavior, and to some extent, representing being right.
On a personal note, although these researchers examined the common public, there is value in recognizing that these characteristics of belief may not simply apply to the common population. Scientists, religious figures, and others in authority are also likely to hold these positions, and other research shows that our beliefs are resistant to change, even in the face of facts and evidence.
Submitted by Brian Laythe
Pechey, R., & Halligan, P. W. (2012). Exploring the folk understanding of belief: Identifying key dimensions endorsed in the general population. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 12(1-2), 81-99.