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  • Writer's pictureDavid Nagai

Primal World Beliefs

Do you see the world as a good or bad place overall? Maybe you’re somewhere in between.

Dr. Jer Clifton of the University of Pennsylvania has been asking this research question for the past several years in his new research lab focused on Primal World Beliefs.

Clifton and his team have broken our human primal world beliefs (“primals”) into three basic categories: Safe vs. Dangerous, Enticing vs. Dull, and Alive vs. Mechanistic.

Through these comparative categories, Clifton can help you understand if you believe the world is mostly good or mostly bad. In other words, you can tell if you see the world as a playground or as a battlefield.

Safe World Belief (Safe vs. Dangerous)

Those who test high on Safe World Belief believe the world is a generally safe place. This means they are not too worried about dangers and threats, but instead, prefer to relax and not worry too much. For them, comfort and stability exist for us to enjoy. High safety correlates with higher trust and lower depression.

People who take the survey and score low on Safe World Belief believe the world is dangerous. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean they are afraid, it means they view the world as more overall dangerous compared to safe. This could range from small dangers like germs and what people say all the way to sharks and earthquakes threatening their wellbeing. They believe it’s better to be careful rather than to be too relaxed about threats.

Enticing World Belief (Enticing vs. Dull)

People testing high on Enticing World Belief see the whole world as incredibly interesting and beautiful. They appreciate everything and explore as much as possible.

For those who test low on Enticing World Belief, they view the world as dull. For them, the world is not very interesting, and takings risks and exploration are not highly valued.

Alive World Belief (Alive vs. Mechanistic)

People high on Alive World Belief view the world as alive. They think that everything happens for a reason and that they can communicate with the universe in some way. They believe that they have a specific role to play in the universe. Alive-focused people are generally more spiritual.

Those testing low on Alive World Beliefs have a mechanistic view of the world. This means that the world is like a machine in their minds, with no intention or awareness. For them, the world doesn’t necessarily need them and doesn’t communicate with them. Mechanistic-focused people are generally less spiritual, but still can practice spirituality.

So what?

So what can we make of this research? Well, we can check to see if people believe the world is overall good or bad. People who score higher on Safe, Enticing, and Alive generally view the world as pretty good. Those who score higher on Dangerous, Dull, and Mechanistic generally view the world as pretty bad.

Although the primals research is still in process, what we do know from the findings is that we can increase our awareness. We can increase our awareness of our own tendencies and we can also increase our awareness about other people’s tendencies. Hopefully this can help us become more self-aware and empathetic toward people who are different from us.

The first step you can take to understand yourself regarding primals is to take the short online survey that has just 18 questions. From this you will be able to know your score – yes, you will be able to know if you tend to see the world more as good or bad. Then, with this awareness, you can continue to reflect on who you are, who others are, and who you want to become in the world.

Take the survey at .


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