Religious images

Visual art and the cultural transmission of religious concepts

Consent to participate in research

11 June 2018

Purpose of the study:  You are being asked to participate in a research study that is being done by Professor Geoffrey Miller and Dr. Eveline Seghers, from the Department of Psychology. The project is funded by the Fulbright Commission for Academic Exchanges between the United States, Belgium and Luxembourg. The purpose of this study is to investigate individuals¿ psychological responses towards religious artworks. You must be at least 18 years old to participate.

This form will explain what to expect when joining the research, as well as the possible risks and benefits of participation. If you have any questions, please ask one of the study researchers.

What you will do in the study: This survey involves a study of the psychological effects of images of religious art. The sample set of images in this study contains paintings, statues and sculptures, manuscripts and decorative objects from Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Javanese mythology, Islam, Judaism, the Ancient Middle East, and traditional Central American cultures. You will see 90 images, and will be asked to rate your emotional reactions to each image. The survey subsequently includes questions about your own religious background, beliefs and practices. In the last part of the survey, you will complete a recognition task regarding the same set of images. At any time during the survey, you are free to skip any questions that make you uncomfortable, or stop taking part in the survey. Participation in this study is expected to take around 45 minutes.

Risks: There are no known risks to participating in this study. Should you experience any aversive or uncomfortable reactions upon seeing images of religious art, you are welcome to end your participation in the study.

Benefits: There is no direct benefit for taking part in this study. The information gained from this study will help in understanding the psychology behind the use of images in religious belief systems, including, for example, cases where such images lead to strong emotional reactions. Your participation will entail an important contribution to a cross-cultural perspective on this subject matter.

Confidentiality of your information: This survey will not ask for your name or any information that can directly identify you. The data for this survey will be collected in a completely anonymized way without storing any identifiers, so any information you provide cannot be traced back to you. The data will only be accessible to the project researchers, and will be stored on a password-secured computer and a secure online environment (the Opinio survey platform). We will take measures to protect the security of all your personal information, but we cannot guarantee confidentiality of all study data. The University of New Mexico Institutional Review Board (IRB) that oversees human subject research may be permitted to access your records. Your name will not be used in any published reports about this study.

Payment: There is no payment for taking part in this study.

Right to withdraw from the study: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. You have the right to choose not to participate or to withdraw your participation at any point in this study without penalty. If you start the survey but do not wish to continue, you can end your participation by closing your browser window. Should you want to request that your data will not be used in the analysis either after partial or full participation in the survey, please inform the researchers of this following the contact information below.

If you have any questions, concerns, or complaints about the research study, please contact:

Eveline Seghers, Department of Psychology, Logan Hall, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131.

If you would like to speak with someone other than the research team to obtain information or offer input or if you have questions regarding your rights as a research participant, please contact the IRB.  The IRB is a group of people from UNM and the community who provide independent oversight of safety and ethical issues related to research involving people:

UNM Office of the IRB, (505) 277-2644, Website:


You are making a decision whether to participate in this study. By clicking the start button below, you indicate that you have read the above information, and that all questions have been answered to your satisfaction. By consenting to take part, you are not waiving any of your legal rights as a research participant.