Marjaana Lindeman
Uffe Schjøedt
Michiel van Elk
Pinja Marin






Project team

Marjaana Lindeman, University of Helsinki, Finland (Principal investigator)
Uffe Schjøedt, Aarhus University, Denmark (Team member)
Michiel van Elk, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Team member)
Pinja Marin, University of Helsinki, Finland (Research Assistant)

Dates: 1 July 2017- 30 June 2019
Award: £98,900

The aim of this project is to identify and characterize different groups of unbelievers in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, and to elucidate with neurocognitive experiments the potential implicit beliefs and cognitions underlying the different unbelief profiles. The project has two main questions:

1. What kind of latent unbeliever groups can be found? We will conduct large online surveys in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. We will characterize the unbeliever groups in terms of their unbeliefs and beliefs, identifications (e.g., atheist, agnostic), strength of unbelief (e.g., extremity, certainty, ambivalence, and clarity of unbelief), and epistemic cognition (e.g., views of knowledge and beliefs about the categories of reality).

2. Do some unbeliever types endorse religious beliefs or ontological confusions implicitly? Based on the groups identified in the first part of the project, we propose to invite participants with theoretically interesting profiles to partake in EEG studies. By integrating our survey-based approach with neurocognitive measures, we will obtain unique insight in the relation between explicit and implicit beliefs that characterize religious unbelief.

Our approach is unique for at least three reasons: First, research on non-religion has focused mainly on North America, while we capitalize on the opportunity to examine unbeliefs in three of the most non-religious countries of the world. Second, the study of unbelief has suffered from a coherent theoretical framework; we propose to build on attitude research and epistemic cognition as powerful theoretical tools to model the nature of unbelief. Third, our research team has expertise in combining a survey-based approach with experimental neurocognitive methods, which allows us to characterize both explicit and implicit beliefs and cognitions.


The study, design, pre-tests and analysis plans and the behavioural data from this study will be published on Open Science Framework.

Further information about the project is also available on the Amsterdam Religion Cognition and Behavior Lab Website