Religious beings psychologically useful and ambiguous

“This ambiguity attribute is interesting as it gives people latitude to form interpretations of religious beings that are personally appealing and plausible,” Dr Swan says.

And whereas fictional beings were given character traits that defined them as heroes or villains, religious beings were more ambivalent and associated with similar ratings of benefit and harm, potentially making them capable of eliciting both love and fear.

The study found that these differences in attributes held up regardless of whether the agents were invented or well known to participants.
The findings also suggested that religious beings are psychologically attractive.

“The differences between fictional and religious beings all point to the idea that religious beings attract belief because we are motivated to believe in them. They are appealing to us. They are psychologically useful.”