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The power of charisma--perceived charisma inhibits the frontal executive network of believers in intercessory prayer.

Authors
  • Schjoedt, Uffe
  • Stødkilde-Jørgensen, Hans
  • Geertz, Armin W
  • Lund, Torben E
  • Roepstorff, Andreas
Type
Published Article
Journal
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2011
Volume
6
Issue
1
Pages
119–127
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsq023
PMID: 20228138
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how assumptions about speakers' abilities changed the evoked BOLD response in secular and Christian participants who received intercessory prayer. We find that recipients' assumptions about senders' charismatic abilities have important effects on their executive network. Most notably, the Christian participants deactivated the frontal network consisting of the medial and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex bilaterally in response to speakers who they believed had healing abilities. An independent analysis across subjects revealed that this deactivation predicted the Christian participants' subsequent ratings of the speakers' charisma and experience of God's presence during prayer. These observations point to an important mechanism of authority that may facilitate charismatic influence, a mechanism which is likely to be present in other interpersonal interactions as well.

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