COLUMBUS, Ohio – Throughout history, scholars and researchers have tried to identify the one key reason that people are attracted to religion.
Some have said people seek religion to cope with a fear of death, others call it the basis for morality, and various other theories abound.
But in a new book, a psychologist who has studied human motivation for more than 20 years suggests that all these theories are too narrow. Religion, he says, attracts followers because it satisfies all of the 16 basic desires that humans share.
“It’s not just about fear of death. Religion couldn’t achieve mass acceptance if it only fulfilled one or two basic desires,” said Steven Reiss, a professor emeritus of psychology at The Ohio State University and author of The 16 Strivings for God (Mercer University Press, 2016).