Department or Program



According to the compensatory control model, when individuals are in a state of “control threat”; that is, when they feel that they lack personal control over a situation, they are motivated to seek external or, compensatory sources of control. God is a particularly strong source of compensatory control. Thus, in moments of control threat, people are more likely to believe in the controlling power of God (Kay, Gaucher, Napier, Callan, & Laurin, 2008). This study examined whether foreign supernatural agents, agents that are outside of a person’s religious tradition, could also serve as sources of compensatory control. To explore this question, we conducted two experiments on undergraduate students at Bates College. In the first experiment we found support for our hypothesis in that participants in a state of control threat believed in the controlling power of the Buddha more than participants in a control condition. In the second experiment we found that when the Buddha is presented as more foreign and his order-providing nature is emphasized, religious participants believed in him more strongly when in a state of control threat while non-religious participants did not. Overall, this research suggests that when personal control is threatened, people may be willing to look to foreign supernatural agents to provide a source of compensatory control, especially if the order-providing nature of that agent is emphasized, and especially if the person is religious.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Bates Community After Expiration]

First Advisor

Boucher, Helen

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file