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Dr. Miguel Farias

Reader in Cognitive and Biological Psychology and Lead for Brain, Belief & Behaviour

My Research Vision

My primary research explores the biological roots and psychological impact of beliefs and spiritual practices, including meditation. I use a combination of experimental methods from social and biological psychology, personality theory, and cognitive neurosciences. I am currently writing about the effects of meditation and conducting new research on the modification of beliefs.


I began my academic career at the University of Lisbon, where I studied psychology and psychotherapy, before moving to Oxford to do my doctorate with Dr Mansur Lalljee and Prof Gordon Claridge. Following my DPhil, I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre in Oxford, a research associate at the Psychology of Religion Group in Cambridge, and a lecturer at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford. In 2014, I joined Coventry University to lead the Brain, Belief and Behaviour research group. With philosophers and neuroscientists, I have pioneered research on the analgesic effects of religious beliefs and the stress-buffering effects of science beliefs. I have led the first randomized-controlled trial on the effects of yoga and meditation in prison and have recently co-written a book that examines the science and myths about the effects of these practices  — The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?


  • Farias, M. & Wikholm, C. (2015). The Buddha Pill: Can meditation change you? London: Watkins Publishers.
  • Kahane, G., Everett, J., Earp, B., Farias, M., & Savolescu, J. (2015). ‘Utilitarian’ judgments in sacrificial dilemmas do not reflect impartial concern for the greater good. Cognition, 134, 193-209.
  • Farias, M. (2015). From exaggeration to silence in health-related science news and academic press releases: A mindful bias? British Medical Journal, 350, h144.
  • Goldingay, S., Dieppe, P, & Farias, M. (2014). ‘And the pain just disappeared into insignificance…’: The healing response at Lourdes – performance, psychology and caring. International Review of Psychiatry, 26(3), 315–323.
  • Farias, M., Newheiser, A., Kahane, G., & de Toledo, Z. (2013). Scientific faith: Belief in science increases in the face of stress and anxiety. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49 (6), 1210-1213.
  • Bilderbeck, A.*, Farias, M.*, Brazil, I., Jacobowitz, S., & Wikholm, C. (*shared first authorship) (2013). Participation in a 10-week course of yoga improves behavioural control and decreases psychological distress in a prison population. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47, 1438-1445.
  • Farias, M.(2013). The psychology of atheism. In The Oxford Handbook of Atheism, edited by S. Bullivant & M. Ruse (pp. 468-482). Oxford University Press.
  • Farias, M.*, Underwood, R.*, & Claridge, G. (*shared first authorship) (2012). Unusual but sound minds: Mental health indicators in modern spiritual individuals. British Journal of Psychology.104(3), 364-381.
  • Newheiser, A., Farias, M., & Tausch, N. (2011). The functional nature of conspiracy beliefs: Examining the underpinnings of belief in the Da Vinci Code conspiracy. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 1007-1111.


  • Believing in ScienceFor many secular individuals science can be a form of ‘faith' which they cling to in moments of stress and anxiety.
Research breakout image

Reader in Cognitive and Biological Psychology and Lead for Brain, Belief & Behaviour

Building: James Starley
Room: JSG18
Research Gate Google Scholar Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement
Miguel Farias