The Existential Function of Intrinsic Religiousness: Moderation of Effects of Priming Religion on Intercultural Tolerance and Afterlife Anxiety

Document Type


Publication Date



Managing existential concerns is theorized to be a key function of religion. We posit that priming religion should be related to greater existential security for those high in intrinsic religiosity. In Experiment 1, priming religion increased intercultural tolerance among individuals who were highly intrinsically religious but decreased it for those low in intrinsic religiousness. In Experiment 2, intrinsic religiousness again moderated the effects of the prime, suggesting that priming religion resulted in attenuated afterlife anxiety for intrinsically religious individuals but greater anxiety for individuals low in intrinsic religiousness. Religious reminders appeared to provide existential securityevidenced by tolerance and reduced death anxietyonly to those high in intrinsic religiousness and can be threatening to those low in intrinsic religiousness. Existential outcomes are a specific case in which intrinsic religiousness can moderate the effects of religious primes, suggesting that religion plays a different existential role for different people.