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Congratulations to Jeff Larsen (PI) and Michael Olson (Co-I) for receiving a $246,980 3-year Templeton Foundation Grant titled,

Congratulations to Jeff Larsen (PI) and Michael Olson (Co-I) for receiving a $246,980 3-year Templeton Foundation Grant titled, "Beyond the shroud: Discerning Jesus in the mind's eye".   Here is a summary of the project:

The Shroud of Turin has been scrutinized more carefully than any other human artifact (Currie, 2004) and even though rigorous scientific evidence indicates that its origins are medieval, some believe it contains the image of Jesus (Badde, 2012). In contrast, Judaism discourages images of its prophets and contemporary Islam forbids them (Khalidi, 2009). Christians may differ because for them Jesus is God made flesh: to see Jesus is to see God. Moreover, having close personal relationships with Jesus is central to many Christians' faith (Luhrmann, 2012). They know what other close partners (e.g., parents) look like, so they want to know what Jesus looks like.

Big Questions emerge: Do different people see Jesus differently in their mind's eye? What proximal antecedents (e.g., God Concepts) and distal antecedents (e.g., attachment style)--both in terms of "head knowledge" and "heart knowledge" (Davis, Moriarty, & Mauch, 2013)--influence aspects of those visual images (e.g., how warm Jesus appears)?

We will use the tools of psychological science to answer these empirical questions. In addition to completing explicit and implicit measures of attachment style and God Concept, undergraduates (n=150) and community members (n=150) will complete measures of their visual images of Jesus. For instance, we will use forensic sketch software so participants can provide explicit depictions of how they see Jesus. In addition, we will use an innovative technique known as reverse correlation to collect implicit measures of how they see Jesus. We will use both types of images to determine whether those with more secure attachment tendencies and those who conceptualize God as more benevolent see Jesus as being warmer in their mind's eye. Expected outcomes include conceptual and methodological advances in the study of religious cognition and enduring impacts include giving people the opportunity to see Jesus as they never have before. 

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