I read the study. The U.S. section of the study had 199 participants from Georgetown - people around 20 years old, 2/3 women, slightly more than half saying they were Christian, about a quarter saying they had no affiliation. So most likely, mostly GTU students. The Afghanistan section of the study had 149 participants from Kabul - around 27 years old, just slightly more men than women, no religious affiliations were collected. So the sample size was very underpowered for a topic this complex. Like most studies run by psychologists.
When you read the assumptions scattered through the paper, based on hypotheses from other severely underpowered studies, their interpretation of what they are seeing starts looking like a house of cards - like most studies run by psychologists.
It was a low budget study of very few people, in two fairly homogeneous groups who were given some simple tests which purport to quantify some very complex mental processes. The statistical correlations they describe with words like “strong” are in fact subtle, and as evidence, this looks like a preliminary study to see if there’s anything there that warrants further study. And sure, they should replicate this study. With larger cohorts. In completely different national groups. And cohorts with much greater age spreads and sub-cultural spreads, including cultural groups with non-Abrahamic religious majorities. And with more comprehensive testing to determine the qualities they seek to compare, instead of the simple tests they used. That would determine if this subtle effect was noise in the groups studied, or was a real correlation.
And then they could design a study to see if there was any causation - which this study definitely did not, it just assumes causation for the effect they think they found - like most studies run by psychologists.
Anything based on biology is extremely complex - and psychology is based on completely unknown biological mechanisms. Any neurologist will tell you, humans do not understand how brains work yet. We’re not even close. So psychological studies are being done in an environment of profound ignorance, and really good studies are way more expensive than most researchers can get money for. So they do little studies which are stabs in the dark. Nothing wrong with that, science has to start somewhere. But they also get little, tentative results from their little studies - which some of them then claim to prove grand, sweeping conclusions. Which is one of the main things that has brought psychology into disrepute.