A study done by Professor Malt Friese and Michaela Wanke in the Journal of Experimental Sociology looked to see if prayer helped us resist temptation, which they referred to as Cognitive “Endurance.”
The basic idea here was that in the same way that we have a limited amount of physical resources, we also have a limited amount of cognitive resources.
For example, if you had spent all night trying to resist your favorite dessert because you were trying to lose weight, it would be harder to resist say another temptation because your Cognitive “Endurance” might already be low.
Put another way, our ability to resist temptation is finite based on our finite brain.
The study was pretty simple actually. What they did was take participants and expose them to two experimental tasks. The first task, called the Emotion-suppression task, was where they watched a funny video and were told to suppress all emotional responses.
Afterwards, they were shown a series of words they had to respond too where the words were colored and either matched or didn’t match. This is commonly referred to as the Stroop Effect.
Here is an example of the Stroop Effect. The Stroop Effect looks primarily at two variables, time of response (seconds) and accuracy (percentage).
After the Stroop Effect, participants were then compared with another group who went through the exact same two experimental tasks with the only difference being that they were asked to pray about it for five minutes before they started.
The group that prayed about it showed significantly better performance on the Stroop Effect.
So let me sort of sum this up if your confused. The first task was used to sort of cognitively “fatigue” the two groups and the second task was simply a measure to see how well they would perform mentally.
The results were that prayer buffered and improved the Cognitive “Endurance” implying that prayer helps us to resist temptation.
What do you think of the study? Leave your thoughts below.