Science/religion: Et qui est mon prochain ? (Study confirms Bible’s good Samaritan teaching: religion can make you less generous and meaner)

 

A world with no Israel (cartoon)12132506_10201070344117812_303036371585407351_o(1)
regionsregions3
atheistsMais lui, voulant se justifier, dit à Jésus: Et qui est mon prochain? Jésus reprit la parole, et dit: Un homme descendait de Jérusalem à Jéricho. Il tomba au milieu des brigands, qui le dépouillèrent, le chargèrent de coups, et s’en allèrent, le laissant à demi mort. Un sacrificateur, qui par hasard descendait par le même chemin, ayant vu cet homme, passa outre. Un Lévite, qui arriva aussi dans ce lieu, l’ayant vu, passa outre. Mais un Samaritain, qui voyageait, étant venu là, fut ému de compassion lorsqu’il le vit. Il s’approcha, et banda ses plaies, en y versant de l’huile et du vin; puis il le mit sur sa propre monture, le conduisit à une hôtellerie, et prit soin de lui. Le lendemain, il tira deux deniers, les donna à l’hôte, et dit: Aie soin de lui, et ce que tu dépenseras de plus, je te le rendrai à mon retour. Lequel de ces trois te semble avoir été le prochain de celui qui était tombé au milieu des brigands? C’est celui qui a exercé la miséricorde envers lui, répondit le docteur de la loi. Et Jésus lui dit: Va, et toi, fais de même. Luc 10: 25-37
Il n’y a plus ni Juif ni Grec, il n’y a plus ni esclave ni libre, il n’y a plus ni homme ni femme; car tous vous êtes un en Jésus Christ. Paul (Galates 3: 28)
Ne croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus (Matthieu 10 : 34-36)
Vous entendrez parler de guerres et de bruits de guerres: gardez-vous d’être troublés, car il faut que ces choses arrivent. Mais ce ne sera pas encore la fin. Une nation s’élèvera contre une nation, et un royaume contre un royaume, et il y aura, en divers lieux, des famines et des tremblements de terre. Tout cela ne sera que le commencement des douleurs. Alors on vous livrera aux tourments, et l’on vous fera mourir; et vous serez haïs de toutes les nations, à cause de mon nom. Jésus (Matt. 24: 6-9)
Et même l’heure vient où quiconque vous fera mourir croira rendre un culte à Dieu. Jésus (Jean 16: 1)
Voici, je vous envoie comme des brebis au milieu des loups. Soyez donc rusés comme les serpents et candides comme les colombes. Matthieu 10: 16
Nous sommes comme des nains assis sur des épaules de géants. Si nous voyons plus de choses et plus lointaines qu’eux, ce n’est pas à cause de la perspicacité de notre vue, ni de notre grandeur, c’est parce que nous sommes élevés par eux. Bernard de Chartres
Bernard de Chartres avait l’habitude de dire que nous sommes comme des nains sur les épaules de géants, afin que nous puissions voir plus qu’eux et les choses plus éloignées, pas en vertu d’une netteté de la vue de notre part, ou d’une distinction physique, mais parce que nous sommes portés haut et soulevé vers le haut par leur taille gigantesque. John de Salisbury (1159)
Si j’ai vu plus loin que les autres, c’est parce que j’ai été porté par des épaules de géants. Isaac Newton (1676)
Tous les efforts de la violence ne peuvent affaiblir la vérité, et ne servent qu’à la relever davantage. Toutes les lumières de la vérité ne peuvent rien pour arrêter la violence, et ne font que l’irriter encore plus. Pascal
Il n’y a que l’Occident chrétien qui ait jamais trouvé la perspective et ce réalisme photographique dont on dit tant de mal: c’est également lui qui a inventé les caméras. Jamais les autres univers n’ont découvert ça. Un chercheur qui travaille dans ce domaine me faisait remarquer que, dans le trompe l’oeil occidental, tous les objets sont déformés d’après les mêmes principes par rapport à la lumière et à l’espace: c’est l’équivalent pictural du Dieu qui fait briller son soleil et tomber sa pluie sur les justes comme sur les injustes. On cesse de représenter en grand les gens importants socialement et en petit les autres. C’est l’égalité absolue dans la perception. René Girard
On apprend aux enfants qu’on a cessé de chasser les sorcières parce que la science s’est imposée aux hommes. Alors que c’est le contraire: la science s’est imposée aux hommes parce que, pour des raisons morales, religieuses, on a cessé de chasser les sorcières. René Girard
Les mondes anciens étaient comparables entre eux, le nôtre est vraiment unique. Sa supériorité dans tous les domaines est tellement écrasante, tellement évidente que, paradoxalement, il est interdit d’en faire état. René Girard
Notre monde est de plus en plus imprégné par cette vérité évangélique de l’innocence des victimes. L’attention qu’on porte aux victimes a commencé au Moyen Age, avec l’invention de l’hôpital. L’Hôtel-Dieu, comme on disait, accueillait toutes les victimes, indépendamment de leur origine. Les sociétés primitives n’étaient pas inhumaines, mais elles n’avaient d’attention que pour leurs membres. Le monde moderne a inventé la “victime inconnue”, comme on dirait aujourd’hui le “soldat inconnu”. Le christianisme peut maintenant continuer à s’étendre même sans la loi, car ses grandes percées intellectuelles et morales, notre souci des victimes et notre attention à ne pas nous fabriquer de boucs émissaires, ont fait de nous des chrétiens qui s’ignorent. René Girard
On n’arrive plus à faire la différence entre le terrorisme révolutionnaire et le fou qui tire dans la foule. L’humanité se prépare à entrer dans l’insensé complet. C’est peut-être nécessaire. Le terrorisme oblige l’homme occidental à mesurer le chemin parcouru depuis deux mille ans. Certaines formes de violence nous apparaissent aujourd’hui intolérables. On n’accepterait plus Samson secouant les piliers du Temple et périr en tuant tout le monde avec lui. Notre contradiction fondamentale, c’est que nous sommes les bénéficiaires du christianisme dans notre rapport à la violence et que nous l’avons abandonné sans comprendre que nous étions ses tributaires. René Girard
L’inauguration majestueuse de l’ère « post-chrétienne » est une plaisanterie. Nous sommes dans un ultra-christianisme caricatural qui essaie d’échapper à l’orbite judéo-chrétienne en « radicalisant » le souci des victimes dans un sens antichrétien. (…) Jusqu’au nazisme, le judaïsme était la victime préférentielle de ce système de bouc émissaire. Le christianisme ne venait qu’en second lieu. Depuis l’Holocauste , en revanche, on n’ose plus s’en prendre au judaïsme, et le christianisme est promu au rang de bouc émissaire numéro un. (…) Le mouvement antichrétien le plus puissant est celui qui réassume et « radicalise » le souci des victimes pour le paganiser. (…) Comme les Eglises chrétiennes ont pris conscience tardivement de leurs manquements à la charité, de leur connivence avec l’ordre établi, dans le monde d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, elles sont particulièrement vulnérables au chantage permanent auquel le néopaganisme contemporain les soumet. René Girard
Le christianisme est la seule religion qui aura prévu son propre échec. Cette prescience s’appelle l’apocalypse. René Girard
Aimez-vous les uns les autres (…) est une formule héroïque qui transcende toute morale. Mais elle ne signifie pas qu’il faille refuser le combat si aucune autre solution n’est possible. René Girard
Je me souviens très bien de la remilitarisation de la Rhénanie en 1935. Si les Français étaient entrés en Allemagne, ils auraient pu changer le cours des événements : les Allemands étaient incapables de leur opposer la moindre résistance. Seulement Albert Sarraut [président du Conseil] et le gouvernement français seraient passés pour les salopards qui empêchaient le monde de revenir à la normale. Ils n’étaient pas assez forts moralement pour tenir le coup. Par la suite, on a beaucoup reproché à Sarraut sa passivité. Mais il était dans une situation inextricable. René Girard
Les moyens dits pacifiques ne sont pas toujours ni même nécessairement les meilleurs pour préserver une paix existante. On sait aujourd’hui que si les Français et les Anglais avaient eu une autre attitude lors de l’entrée des troupes allemandes dans la zone démilitarisée en 1935, on aurait peut-être réussi à faire tomber Hitler et ainsi empêché la guerre de 1939. Il y a également de fortes chances qu’une action offensive des Alliés les aurait fait passer pour coupables aux yeux de l’opinion mondiale. En général ; on ne connaît qu’après coup l’utilité d’une guerre préventive pour préserver la paix. Julien Freund
Obama demande pardon pour les faits et gestes de l’Amérique, son passé, son présent et le reste, il s’excuse de tout. Les relations dégradées avec la Russie, le manque de respect pour l’Islam, les mauvais rapports avec l’Iran, les bisbilles avec l’Europe, le manque d’adulation pour Fidel Castro, tout lui est bon pour battre la coulpe de l’Amérique. Plus encore, il célèbre la contribution (totalement inexistante) de l’Islam à l’essor de l’Amérique, et il se fend d’une révérence au sanglant et sectaire roi d’Arabie, l’Abdullah de la haine. Il annule la ceinture anti-missiles sise en Alaska et propose un désarmement nucléaire inutile. (…) Plus encore, cette déplorable Amérique a semé le désordre et le mal partout dans le monde. Au lieu de collaborer multilatéralement avec tous, d’œuvrer au bien commun avec Poutine, Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Saddam Hussein, Bachir al-Assad, et Cie, l’insupportable Bush en a fait des ennemis. (…) Il n’y a pas d’ennemis, il n’y a que des malentendus. Il ne peut y avoir d’affrontements, seulement des clarifications. Laurent Murawiec
Le manque de soutien des Américains aux Français est, en vérité, la marque de fabrique de Barack Obama (…) Le Président américain avait trouvé une stratégie d’évitement pour ne pas intervenir, à condition que le gouvernement syrien renonce à son arsenal chimique : toutes les autres formes d’assassinat de masse restaient donc tolérées par le Président américain. Un million de morts et deux millions de réfugiés plus tard n’empêchent apparemment pas Barack Obama de dormir la nuit : il a d’autres priorités, tel lutter contre un hypothétique déréglement du climat ou faire fonctionner une assurance maladie, moralement juste et pratiquement dysfonctionnelle. On connaît les arguments pour ne pas intervenir en Syrie : il serait difficile de distinguer les bons et les mauvais Syriens, les démocrates authentiques et les islamistes cachés. Mais ce n’est pas l’analyse du sénateur John Mc Cain, plus compétent qu’Obama sur le sujet : lui réclame, en vain, que les États-Unis arment décemment les milices qui se battent sur les deux fronts, hostiles au régime de Assad et aux Islamistes soutenus par l’Iran. Par ailleurs, se laver les mains face au massacre des civils, comme les Occidentaux le firent naguère au Rwanda – et longtemps en Bosnie et au Kosovo – n’est jamais défendable. Il est parfaitement possible, aujourd’hui encore en Syrie, d’interdire le ciel aux avions de Assad qui bombardent les civils, de créer des couloirs humanitaires pour évacuer les civils, d’instaurer des zones de sécurité humanitaire. C’est ce que Obama refuse obstinément à Hollande. Comment expliquer cette obstination et cette indifférence d’Obama : ne regarde-t-il pas la télévision ? Il faut en conclure qu’il s’est installé dans un personnage, celui du Président pacifiste, celui qui aura retiré l’armée américaine d’Irak, bientôt d’Afghanistan et ne l’engagera sur aucun autre terrain d’opérations. Obama ignorerait-il qu’il existe des « guerres justes » ? Des guerres que l’on ne choisit pas et qu’il faut tout de même livrer, parce que le pacifisme, passé un certain seuil, devient meurtrier. « À quoi sert-il d’entretenir une si grande armée, si ce n’est pas pour s’en servir ? », avait demandé Madeleine Albright, Secrétaire d’État de Bill Clinton, au Général Colin Powell, un militaire notoirement frileux. Les États-Unis sont le gendarme du monde, la seule puissance qui compte : les armées russes et chinoises, par comparaison, sont des nains. On posera donc à Obama – si on le pouvait – la même question que celle de Madeleine Albright : « À quoi sert l’armée américaine et à quoi sert le Président Obama ? ». Il est tout de même paradoxal que Hollande, un désastre en politique intérieure, pourrait passer dans l’Histoire comme celui qui aura dit Non à la barbarie et Barack Obama, Prix Nobel de la Paix, pour celui qui se sera couché devant les Barbares. Guy Sorman
Depuis que l’ordre religieux est ébranlé – comme le christianisme le fut sous la Réforme – les vices ne sont pas seuls à se trouver libérés. Certes les vices sont libérés et ils errent à l’aventure et ils font des ravages. Mais les vertus aussi sont libérées et elles errent, plus farouches encore, et elles font des ravages plus terribles encore. Le monde moderne est envahi des veilles vertus chrétiennes devenues folles. Les vertus sont devenues folles pour avoir été isolées les unes des autres, contraintes à errer chacune en sa solitude.  G.K. Chesterton
Il vous faut abandonner les armes que vous avez car elles n’ont aucune utilité pour vous sauver vous ou l’humanité. Vous inviterez Herr Hitler et signor Mussolini à prendre ce qu’ils veulent des pays que vous appelez vos possessions…. Si ces messieurs choisissent d’occuper vos maisons, vous les évacuerez. S’ils ne vous laissent pas partir librement, vous vous laisserez abattre, hommes, femmes et enfants, mais vous leur refuserez toute allégeance.  Gandhi (conseil aux Britanniques, 1940)
Si j’étais né en Allemagne et y gagnais ma vie, je revendiquerais l’Allemagne comme ma patrie au même titre que le plus grand des gentils Allemands et le défierais de m’abattre ou de me jeter au cachot; je refuserais d’être expulsé ou soumis à toute mesure discriminatoire. Et pour cela, je n’attendrais pas que mes coreligionaires se joignent à moi dans la résistance civile mais serais convaincu qu’à la fin ceux-ci ne manqueraient pas de suivre mon exemple. Si un juif ou tous les juifs acceptaient la prescription ici offerte, ils ne pourraient être en plus mauvaise posture que maintenant. Et la souffrance volontairement subie leur apporterait une force et une joie intérieures que ne pourraient leur apporter aucun nombre de résolutions de sympathie du reste du monde. Gandhi (le 26 novembre, 1938)
Des juifs sont persécutés, volés, maltraités, torturés, assassinés. Et vous, Mahatma Gandhi, dites que leur position dans le pays où ils souffrent tout ceci est un parallèle exact avec la position des Indiens en Afrique du sud au moment où vous inauguriez votre célèbre « force de la vérité » ou « force de la campagne d’âme » (Satyagraha) (…) Mais, Mahatma, savez-vous ou ne savez-vous pas ce qu’est un camp de concentration et ce qui s’y passe? Martin Buber
Capitalism is the way of the devil and exploitation. If you really want to look at things through the eyes of Jesus Christ–who I think was the first socialist–only socialism can really create a genuine society. Hugo Chávez
Imagine (…) no religion  (…) all the people living life in peace… You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will be as one … John Lennon
Nous sommes ici aujourd’hui parce que le printemps de Prague – parce que la quête, simple et légitime, de liberté et de perspectives d’avenir – a couvert de honte ceux qui s’appuyaient sur le pouvoir des tanks et des armes pour écraser la volonté du peuple. Nous sommes ici aujourd’hui parce que, il y a vingt ans, les gens de cette ville sont descendus dans la rue pour réclamer la promesse d’un jour nouveau et les droits humains fondamentaux qui leur avaient été refusés depuis bien trop longtemps. Sametová revoluce (la « révolution de velours ») nous a enseigné beaucoup de choses. Elle nous a montré qu’une protestation pacifique pouvait ébranler les fondations d’un empire et révéler la vanité d’une idéologie. Elle nous a montré que de petits pays pouvaient jouer un rôle pivot dans les événements du monde, et que des gens jeunes pouvaient montrer le chemin pour surmonter d’anciens conflits. Et elle a prouvé que le pouvoir moral était plus puissant que n’importe quelle arme. (…) Tout comme nous nous sommes dressés au XXe siècle pour défendre la liberté, nous devons nous dresser ensemble au XXIe siècle pour vivre libres de toute peur. Et en tant que puissance nucléaire – en tant qu’unique puissance nucléaire ayant eu recours à l’arme nucléaire -, les Etats-Unis ont la responsabilité morale d’agir. Nous ne pouvons réussir seuls dans cette entreprise, mais nous pouvons la conduire. Ainsi, aujourd’hui, j’affirme clairement et avec conviction l’engagement de l’Amérique à rechercher la paix et la sécurité dans un monde sans armes nucléaires. Ce but ne pourra être atteint avant longtemps, sans doute pas de mon vivant. Il faudra de la patience et de l’obstination. Mais maintenant, c’est à nous d’ignorer les voix qui nous disent que le monde ne peut pas changer. (…) Nous soutiendrons le droit de l’Iran à disposer d’une énergie nucléaire pacifique dans le cadre de contrôles rigoureux. Barack Hussein Obama (2009)
Pour les personnes persécutées pour des raisons politiques, le droit fondamental d’asile ne connaît pas de limite. Merkel (2015)
Donors in Southern states, for instance, give roughly 5.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity — both to religious and to secular groups — compared with donors in the Northeast, who give 4.0 percent. Before you jump to conclusions that religion and generosity were somehow connected, keep in mind that those numbers included giving “both to religious and to secular groups”… In other words, church counted as charity. But when you excluded donations given to churches and religious groups, the map changed dramatically, giving an edge to the least religious states in the country. Friendly atheist
Nos observations remettent en question le fait que la religion serait vitale pour le développement moral, et appuient l’idée que la sécularisation du discours moral ne va pas diminuer la bonté humaine – en fait, elle fera tout le contraire. Jean Decety
Il n’y a pas d’interprétation présentée pour la propension des enfants musulmans à proposer des punitions plus sévères. Angela Sirigu (Centre de neurosciences cognitives de Lyon)
Les auteurs invoquent un mécanisme de « licence morale » : la religiosité étant perçue en elle-même comme un gage de bonté, les pratiquants pourraient s’autoriser – « inconsciemment », précise Jean Decety – un plus grand égoïsme au quotidien. (…) dès le XIXe siècle, on avait constaté que les prisons de droit commun comptaient une proportion très faible d’athées, et dans les années 1940 aux Etats-Unis, des psychologues avaient montré la moindre générosité et la plus grande prévalence des préjugés envers les minorités chez les croyants, « ce qui avait constitué un grand choc ». En Afrique du Sud, la majorité des opposants blancs à l’apartheid étaient des non-croyants, « juifs séculiers », souligne aussi Jean Decety, actuellement en année sabbatique dans ce pays. Benny Beit-Hallahmi estime que les chercheurs qui traquent l’avantage évolutif offert par la religion se fourvoient : « la coopération sociale, observée chez d’autres animaux, est un comportement tellement élémentaire qu’elle n’a pas besoin de substrat moral. Le vrai enjeu moral, c’est de faire le bien envers autrui, quel qu’il soit, indépendamment de la crainte d’être puni dans l’au-delà. » Une exigence apparue selon lui récemment dans l’histoire du monde, incarnée par des organisations séculières, « universalistes », comme Médecins sans frontière. « Il y a un siècle, rappelle-t-il, faute d’athées, une telle étude comparative aurait été impossible. » Le Monde
C’est une explication plausible. D’autres recherches ont montré que la religiosité traditionnelle est associée à des dons charitables plus élevés, mais pas avec une aide offerte dans des situations spontanées, ce qui concorde avec la présente étude. Luke Gallen (université du Nebraska)
323 said they were non-religious, 3 were agnostic and 2 ticked the box marked “other”. The Economist
Methodological problems that limit the interpretation of religious prosociality studies include the use of inappropriate comparison groups and the presence of criterion contamination in measures yielding misleading conclusions. Specifically, it is common practice to compare high levels of religiosity with “low religiosity” (e.g., the absence of denominational membership, lack of church attendance, or the low importance of religion), which conflates indifferent or uncommitted believers with the completely nonreligious. Finally, aspects of religious stereotype endorsement and ingroup bias can contribute to nonprosocial effects. Luke W. Galen

Attention: une subversion peut en cacher une autre !

Au lendemain de la mort, au vénérable âge de 91 ans, de l’anthropologue franco-américain de la violence et apologiste assumé du christianisme René Girard

Et à l’heure où avec le plus rapide prix Nobel de la paix de l’histoire et fidèle de 20 ans du pasteur Wright à la tête du Monde libre et la fille de pasteur élevée au lait du communisme Mother Angelica à la tête de l’Union européenne …

Un Moyen-Orient à feu et à sang voit la résurgence, au nom d’Allah même, d’une barbarie d’un autre âge et la reconnaissance par ledit Monde libre du droit à l’arme nucléaire d’un régime appelant explicitement à l’annihilation d’un de ses voisins …

Et qu’une Europe qui n’arrive même plus à assurer sa reproduction démographique s’abandonne aux flots d’une invasion grosse potentiellement de millions de migrants clandestins issue pour l’essentiel de ladite religion …

Pendant que sous prétexte que les athées seraient plus généreux que les croyants, une étude franco-américaine se félicite aussi sottement qu’un Gandhi ou qu’un John Lennon d’avoir démontré rien de moins que la nocivité de la religion pour le développement moral  …

Comment ne pas voir à la lumière des travaux du plus américain des penseurs français …

Non seulement la formidable force subversive des Evangiles et l’incroyable chaos que peut déclencher à l’échelle à présent de la planète entière l’application la plus radicale de leurs principes

Mais surtout, au-delà des évidents problèmes méthodologiques et notamment d’échantillonnage (eg. l’invention récente et justement occidentale et souvent issue de milieux favorisés de l’athéisme – combien d’athées au Pakistan ?) …

Et l’impasse sur les quelque 100 millions de victimes d’un régime athée comme le communisme

La non moins incroyable fatuité de tous nos Monsieur Jourdain du christianisme  …

Et qui, tels ces nains assis sur les épaules de géants, n’ont même pas conscience qu’ils ne font que vérifier l’enseignement évangélique …

Qui 2 000  ans avant eux sous les traits du bon samaritain avait averti les croyants du risque de l’empathie limitée à son propre groupe ?

Les enfants non religieux sont plus altruistes que ceux élevés dans une famille de croyants

Hervé Morin

Le Monde

05.11.2015

Certains observateurs attentifs de l’actualité des derniers millénaires l’avaient déjà noté : la religion n’est pas toujours un gage de concorde et de fraternité. Une étude publiée jeudi 5 novembre dans la revue Current Biology suggère que le mode de transmission des valeurs et des pratiques religieuses d’une génération à l’autre risque de faire perdurer cette situation. Menée dans six pays auprès de 1 170 enfants de cinq à douze ans, elle montre que l’altruisme n’est pas la chose la mieux partagée chez ceux issus de familles pratiquant une religion. Ils présenteraient aussi une prédilection pour l’application de châtiments plus sévères que les rejetons de familles se définissant comme « non religieuses ».

Conduite au Canada, en Chine, en Jordanie, en Turquie, aux Etats-Unis et en Afrique du Sud, cette étude dirigée par Jean Decety (Département de psychologie de l’université de Chicago) avait pour objectif de mesurer si la religion, ainsi qu’on le croit fréquemment, renforce les comportements dits « prosociaux ».

L’enquête est financée par une bourse de la Fondation américaine John Templeton. D’inspiration chrétienne, celle-ci avait en 2007 remis son prix (mieux doté que le Nobel) au philosophe canadien Charles Taylor, qui défend l’idée selon laquelle les sociétés laïques occidentales ne sont pas aptes à satisfaire la quête humaine de sens.

« La sécularisation du discours moral ne va pas diminuer la bonté humaine – en fait, elle fera tout le contraire »

Sont-elles pour autant moins « morales » ? La fondation risque d’être déçue par la réponse. Les chercheurs réunis par Jean Decety concluent en effet que leurs observations « remettent en question le fait que la religion serait vitale pour le développement moral, et appuient l’idée que la sécularisation du discours moral ne va pas diminuer la bonté humaine – en fait, elle fera tout le contraire ». Un manifeste politique, inhabituel dans une revue de biologie. Jean Decety y tient, notamment du fait qu’aux Etats-Unis, où ce Français naturalisé américain est installé depuis 14 ans, il est impossible à quiconque se déclarant non croyant d’espérer accéder à de hautes fonctions, notamment électives, « car il serait suspecté d’être immoral, voire amoral ».

Capacité d’empathie

Qu’a montré son équipe ? Elle a d’abord mesuré le niveau de pratique religieuse des familles dont elle a étudié les enfants. Pour des raisons de robustesse statistique, ceux-ci ont été divisés en trois groupes – non religieux (dont athées), chrétiens, musulmans – les autres cultes étant sous-représentés dans l’échantillon. Les chercheurs ont demandé aux parents d’évaluer la capacité d’empathie et la sensibilité à l’injustice de leurs enfants. Les chrétiens et musulmans les estimaient plus élevées que ce que rapportaient les parents non croyants.

Les chercheurs ont ensuite fait visionner par chaque enfant des petites vidéos montrant d’autres enfants se poussant ou se faisant trébucher, de façon intentionnelle ou non, en leur demandant de noter le niveau de « méchanceté » et celui des punitions méritées par les fautifs, sur une échelle graduée, mais non spécifique – « on ne proposait pas 40 coups de fouets ! », précise Jean Decety. Les enfants religieux estimaient en moyenne ces actes plus répréhensibles, et – que les méfaits aient été ou non volontaires – proposaient des punitions plus sévères que les athées, les petits musulmans étant les plus intransigeants.

« Jeu du dictateur »

Enfin, pour évaluer la générosité des enfants, les chercheurs ont fait appel à une adaptation du « jeu du dictateur », imaginé par les économistes : parmi trente autocollants, ils leur ont proposé de choisir leurs dix préférés, en précisant qu’ils n’auraient pas le temps d’en distribuer à tous les écoliers. Ils leur demandaient ensuite s’ils seraient prêts à en donner pour leurs camarades moins chanceux. Le nombre d’autocollants cédés, hors de la vue de l’expérimentateur, augmentait avec l’âge (un effet déjà connu du développement de l’altruisme chez l’enfant). Mais les petits athées se montraient significativement plus généreux que leurs pairs croyants, chez qui les dons étaient inversement proportionnels à l’intensité de la pratique religieuse – « quelle que soit la culture, c’est-à-dire le pays d’origine », précise Jean Decety, en réponse à des objections sur la répartition statistique des données.

Comment expliquer ce dernier phénomène ? Les auteurs invoquent un mécanisme de « licence morale » : la religiosité étant perçue en elle-même comme un gage de bonté, les pratiquants pourraient s’autoriser – « inconsciemment », précise Jean Decety – un plus grand égoïsme au quotidien. « C’est une explication plausible, commente Luke Gallen (université du Nebraska). D’autres recherches ont montré que la religiosité traditionnelle est associée à des dons charitables plus élevés, mais pas avec une aide offerte dans des situations spontanées, ce qui concorde avec la présente étude. »

Angela Sirigu, chercheuse au Centre de neurosciences cognitives de Lyon (et contributrice de cartes blanches pour le cahier Science & Médecine du Monde) juge l’étude « très intéressante », mais reste sur sa faim sur l’explication de comportements mis en lumière. « Il n’y a pas d’interprétation présentée pour la propension des enfants musulmans à proposer des punitions plus sévères », commente-t-elle.

Voltaire et les athées

Pour Benny Beit-Hallahmi (université de Haifa), auteur d’une somme sur la psychologie et la religion, l’étude de Current Biology « est une contribution très importante car elle confirme pour la première fois chez un grand nombre d’enfants de différentes cultures, pays et religions, des observations connues chez les adultes ».

Certes, Voltaire lui-même se méfiait de l’athéisme, « estimant qu’il fallait des limites religieuses pour border les comportements moraux », rappelle-t-il. Mais dès le XIXe siècle, on avait constaté que les prisons de droit commun comptaient une proportion très faible d’athées, et dans les années 1940 aux Etats-Unis, des psychologues avaient montré la moindre générosité et la plus grande prévalence des préjugés envers les minorités chez les croyants, « ce qui avait constitué un grand choc ». En Afrique du Sud, la majorité des opposants blancs à l’apartheid étaient des non-croyants, « juifs séculiers », souligne aussi Jean Decety, actuellement en année sabbatique dans ce pays.

Benny Beit-Hallahmi estime que les chercheurs qui traquent l’avantage évolutif offert par la religion se fourvoient : « la coopération sociale, observée chez d’autres animaux, est un comportement tellement élémentaire qu’elle n’a pas besoin de substrat moral. Le vrai enjeu moral, c’est de faire le bien envers autrui, quel qu’il soit, indépendamment de la crainte d’être puni dans l’au-delà. » Une exigence apparue selon lui récemment dans l’histoire du monde, incarnée par des organisations séculières, « universalistes », comme Médecins sans frontière. « Il y a un siècle, rappelle-t-il, faute d’athées, une telle étude comparative aurait été impossible. »

Aujourd’hui, 5,8 milliards d’humains, soit 84 % de la population de la planète, s’identifient comme croyants, rappellent Jean Decety et ses collègues.

Voir aussi:

Matthew 22:39
Far from bolstering generosity, a religious upbringing diminishes it
The Economist
Nov 7th 2015

AN ARGUMENT often advanced for the encouragement of religion is that, to paraphrase St Matthew’s report of Jesus’s words, it leads people to love their neighbours as themselves. That would be a powerful point were it true. But is it? This was the question Jean Decety, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, asked in a study just published in Current Biology.

Dr Decety is not the first to wonder, in a scientific way, about the connection between religion and altruism. He is, though, one of the first to do it without recourse to that standard but peculiar laboratory animal beloved of psychologists, the undergraduate student. Instead, he collaborated with researchers in Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey, as well as with fellow Americans, to look at children aged between five and 12 and their families. Altogether, Dr Decety and his colleagues recruited 1,170 families for their project, and focused on one child per family. Five hundred and ten of their volunteer families described themselves as Muslim, 280 as Christian, 29 as Jewish, 18 as Buddhist and 5 as Hindu. A further 323 said they were non-religious, 3 were agnostic and 2 ticked the box marked “other”.

Follow-up questions to the faithful among the sample then asked how often they engaged in religious activities, and also about spirituality in the home. That let Dr Decety calculate how religious each family was. He found that about half the children in religious households came from highly observant homes; the spiritual lives of the other half were more relaxed. He then arranged for the children to play a version of what is known to psychologists as the dictator game—an activity they use to measure altruism.

In truth, the dictator game is not much of a game, since only one of the participants actually plays it. In Dr Decety’s version, each child was presented with a collection of 30 attractive stickers and told that he or she could keep ten of them. Once a child had made his selection, the experimenter told him that there was not time to play the game with all the children at the school, but that he could, if he wished, give away some of his ten stickers to a random schoolmate who would not otherwise be able to take part. The child was then given a few minutes to decide whether he wanted to give up some of his stickers—and, if so, how many. The researchers used the number of stickers surrendered as a measure of altruism.

The upshot was that the children of non-believers were significantly more generous than those of believers. They gave away an average of 4.1 stickers. Children from a religious background gave away 3.3. And a further analysis of the two largest religious groups (Jews, Buddhists and Hindus were excluded because of their small numbers in the sample), showed no statistical difference between them. Muslim children gave away 3.2 stickers on average, while Christian children gave away 3.3. Moreover, a regression analysis on these groups of children showed that their generosity was inversely correlated with their households’ religiosity. This effect remained regardless of a family’s wealth and status (rich children were more generous than poor ones), a child’s age (older children were more generous than younger ones) or the nationality of the participant. These findings are, however, in marked contrast to parents’ assessments of their own children’s sensitivity to injustice. When asked, religious parents reported their children to be more sensitive than non-believing parents did.

This is only one result, of course. It would need to be replicated before strong conclusions could be drawn. But it is suggestive. And what it suggests is not only that what is preached by religion is not always what is practised, which would not be a surprise, but that in some unknown way the preaching makes things worse.

Voir également:

Does Religious Belief Promote Prosociality? A Critical Examination

Luke Galen

Grand Valley State University

1. Social perception.
People in much-studied religious places such as the United States tend to view religious people favorably.
2. Ingroup bias.
That’s likely because most people, being religious, display commonplace ingroup preferences. Ingroup bias
operates within all sorts of groups, including religious groups.
3. Ingroup giving.
Much giving and volunteering (in communities) and sharing (in laboratory games) is directed to ingroups.
4. Priming effects.
Priming people with religious concepts increases sharing and honesty, but it can also increase negativity, including antigay prejudice.
5. Religious diversity.
There are, as William James long ago recognized, varieties of religious experience, and the variations matter (Paloutzian & Park, in press). Intrinsic religiosity predicts prosociality; extrinsic religiosity does not. Fundamentalists differ radically from peace-and-justice-promoting Mennonites and liberation Catholics. “The social, historical, and moral realities of religions are just as complicated, scrambled, and difficult as every other social practice and institution in human life—both the ones we personally like and the ones we don’t,” wrote sociologist Christian Smith (2012, p. 14). “The truth about religions is complex and challenging. Historically and today, religion involves plenty of good and bad, light and darkness, splendor and evil to go around.”
6. Intentional versus spontaneous prosociality.
Religiosity predicts planned more than spontaneous helping behaviors.
7. Private versus public charity.
Religiosity also correlates more with private charity (giving money and time) than with support for public (government) charity
8. Self-justification.
Religion can justify outgroup prejudice.
“The role of religion is paradoxical,” observed Gordon Allport (1958, p. 413). “It makes prejudice and it unmakes prejudice.” Thus religious prophets from Jeremiah to Desmond Tutu have often faulted their own community for failing to walk the compassion talk.
9. Curvilinear associations.
Religiosity has some curvilinear relationships with prosociality and human flourishing. An example is the oft-reported curvilinear association between religiosity and racial prejudice, which Allport and Ross (1967) and others found lowest among the nonreligious and highly religious. More recently, an analysis of more than 676,000 Gallup–Healthways Well-Being Index interviews conducted in 2010 and 2011 found that “very religious” Americans had the highest levels of well-being (69.2%), with those “moderately religious” (63.7%) scoring lower than the “nonreligious” (65.3%; Newport, Witters, & Agrawal, 2012). Comparisons of prosocial highly religious people with less prosocial nominally religious people also fail to consider the existence of a growing third group—the relatively prosocial nonreligious. These include today’s religious “nones” and atheists (many of whom are highly educated).
10. Cultural variation.
The religiosity–happiness association is stronger in relatively religious countries than in more secular countries—a finding recently reported by Diener et al. 1(2011) and also by Gebauer, Sedikides, and Neberich (2012).

 Voir de plus:

Does Religious Belief Promote Prosociality? A Critical Examination

Luke Galen

Grand Valley State University

Numerous authors have suggested that religious belief has a positive association, possibly causal, with prosocial behavior. This article critiques evidence regarding this “religious prosociality” hypothesis from several areas of the literature. The extant literature on religious prosociality is reviewed including domains of charity, volunteering, morality, personality, and well-being. The experimental and quasiexperimental literature regarding controlled prosocial interactions (e.g., sharing and generosity) is reviewed and contrasted with results from naturalistic studies. Conceptual problems in the interpretation of this literature include separating the effects of stereotypes and ingroup biases from impression formation as well as controlling for self-report biases in the measurement of religious prosociality. Many effects attributed to religious processes can be explained in terms of general nonreligious psychological effects. Methodological problems that limit the interpretation of religious prosociality studies include the use of inappropriate comparison groups and the presence of criterion contamination in measures yielding misleading conclusions. Specifically, it is common practice to compare high levels of religiosity with “low religiosity” (e.g., the absence of denominational membership, lack of church attendance, or the low importance of religion), which conflates indifferent or uncommitted believers with the completely nonreligious. Finally, aspects of religious stereotype endorsement and ingroup bias can contribute to nonprosocial effects. These factors necessitate a revision of the religious prosociality hypothesis and suggest that future research should incorporate more stringent controls in order to reach less ambiguous
conclusions.
A significant number of studies, including several recent reviews, have suggested that religiosity has a causal connection to a host of prosocial outcomes including greater moral behavior, selfcontrol, and helpfulness. An extensive literature has also linked religiosity to subjective well-being and mental health in addition to positive personality characteristics. These studies often receive media coverage beyond academic circles (Tierney, 2008) and claim to establish a solid empirical connection for what I will refer to as the “religious prosociality hypothesis”—that religious belief or concepts lead to prosocial attitudes and behaviors. In the following, I will present a synopsis of this hypothesis followed by conceptual and methodological critiques, and recommendations for future research.
Prosociality itself subsumes dispositional aspects such as personality traits and also includes helping behaviors, whether
planned and initiated by the individual (e.g., charity, volunteering) or spontaneous and elicited by the situation (e.g., bystander assistance). It can also be assessed in controlled studies via economic behavior (e.g., sharing, cooperation). Religiosity has been suggested as a causal factor in increasing altruistic behavior and empathy (Saroglou, Pichon, Trompette, Verschueren, & Dernelle, 2005). Religiosity is said to strengthen communities, unify social groups, and influence compliance with group norms (Baumeister, Bauer, & Lloyd, 2010). For example, Myers (2000) stated that “actively religious North Americans are much less likely than irreligious people to become delinquent, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to divorce, and to commit suicide” (p. 63). In sum, as stated by Putnam and Campbell (2010), the religious are thought to be “better neighbors.” Some of this work has been integrated within the positive psychology movement as well, by establishing religion and spirituality as sources of virtues (Hood, Hill, & Spilka, 2009).
Religiosity has been said to promote aspects of prosociality as a function of its relationship with personality and temperament (McCullough & Willoughby, 2009; Saroglou, 2010). Prosocial personality characteristics associated with religiosity are thought to underlie personal restraint, resistance to temptation, benevolence, social comity, and interpersonal trust (Baumeister et al., 2010). Reviews of the relevant literature indicate that religiosity is indeed associated with higher scores on the Big Five traits of Agreeableness (warmth and trust) and Conscientiousness (dutifulness and self-control; Saroglou, 2002) and that these “higher level personality traits that subsume aspects of self-control also tend to be positively correlated with religiousness” (McCullough & Willoughby, 2009, p. 73). Conversely, those with low Agreeableness typically tend to be less religious (McCullough, Enders, Brion, & Jain, 2005). In the Eysenck personality model, psychoticism (or “tough-mindedness,” which is essentially a combination of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness) is negatively related to religiosity (Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2007). Due to these associations with personality, religiosity is often described as indicating generally “nicer” individuals. For example, in his metaanalysis, Saroglou (2002) stated, One may find it interesting to know that if he has to select a partner for business or marriage, there is a 60% chance that a religious partner will be non-individualistic, warm and straightforward (A), conscientious and methodical (C), compared to only a 40% probability with a non-religious partner. (p. 24)
Some studies have even concluded that religious people are nicer beyond merely self-reported ratings of greater prosociality (McCullough & Willoughby, 2009). For example, Morgan (1983) found that interviewers rated religious interviewees as having more positive traits such as cooperativeness than the nonreligious, and Ellison (1992) reported that interviewees who engaged in religious activities or for whom religion “served as moral guidance” were rated by others as more open, friendlier, and less suspicious relative to nonreligious individuals. Likewise, religious individuals are rated by peers as having high altruistic behavior and empathy (Saroglou et al., 2005).
In addition to prosociality, many authors have suggested that religiosity is generally associated with higher subjective wellbeing and lower levels of depression (Koole, McCullough, Kuhl, & Roelofsma, 2010; T. B. Smith, McCullough, & Poll, 2003).
Myers (2000) reported that the proportion of “very happy” people was roughly twice as great among those who frequently attended church when compared with those who never attended. Indeed, Diener, Tay, and Myers (2011) found that worldwide, on average, the religious had higher subjective well-being than the nonreligious.
Reviews and meta-analyses have suggested that religiosity may increase psychological well-being via effects such as existential purpose and meaning as well as the buffering of stress (Hackney & Sanders, 2003; T. B. Smith et al., 2003). There are numerous studies supporting the association between religiosity and prosociality as conceptualized as greater charitable giving and social engagement such as volunteering and community participation. Religious individuals are suggested to be more “neighborly” by being generous with time and money (Myers, 2008, 2009; Putnam & Campbell, 2010). Almost all literature reviews have concluded that religious attendance is generally associated with these forms of prosociality (Bekkers & Wiepking, 2007; Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1996; Lincoln, Morrissey, & Mundey, 2008; Monsma, 2007). For example, those who have attended religious services in the past week are more likely to say they engaged in generous behavior and volunteer than those who did not attend (Pelham & Crabtree, 2008; Putnam & Campbell, 2010). Religious prosociality such as generosity and sharing has also been studied in the context of controlled social interactions such as behavioral economics paradigms. There are indications that forms of economic cooperation (e.g., trust and generosity) are greater among the religious (Sosis & Ruffle, 2003). Another line of experimental evidence in this domain involves semantic priming studies in which the activation of religious schema has been demonstrated to increase prosocial behavior (Randolph-Seng & Nielsen, 2007; Shariff & Norenzayan, 2007). Therefore, it appears well-established that the highly religious, particularly devout churchgoers contribute more to charity and volunteering than the less devout, and that activation of religious concepts can affect interactions in a prosocial direction.
Typically, researchers have suggested several explanatory mechanisms by which religiosity promotes prosociality. One of these is participation in a religious group, such as a church or congregation. For example, Myers (2009) stated that “compared with never-attenders, the most religiously engaged Americans were half as likely to be divorced and about one-fourth as likely to be smokers or have been arrested” (para. 5). Putnam and Campbell (2010) posited that “religiously-based social networking” is the most important reason why the religious are “better neighbors” than their secular counterparts. Others have suggested that religious institutions and rituals may assist individuals in developing self-control (McCullough & Willoughby, 2009) and “moral expertise” (Rossano, 2008). Religious concepts themselves (e.g., belief in God) are said to facilitate prosociality. Myers (2000), in his review of the correlates of subjective well-being (“The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People”), also alludes to the effects of religious beliefs, including the provision of meaning and purpose.
Religious beliefs are discussed in terms of providing a set of moral ideals and promoting the notion that one’s actions are being evaluated and monitored by supernatural agents. For example, McCullough and Willoughby (2009) posited that the perception of being watched by supernatural entities can increase conscientious behavior via increased self-awareness and improve self-regulation in part via the “sanctification” of goals. The effect of religious priming has been suggested to work via this mechanism of increasing awareness of prosocial behavioral norms. Religious concepts present in believers are hypothesized to activate prosociality at an implicit and unconscious level such that the effects of
religious priming are greatest for religious individuals (Koole et al., 2010). Similarly, Baumeister et al. (2010) referred to the effects of priming religion as being driven by having a moralistic audience such that “the belief that one’s actions are constantly and inescapably being observed by a divine being may be a strong stimulus and reminder to be aware of one’s actions” and that religious stimuli “prompted participants to evaluate their behaviors against a higher religious ideal.” (p. 76)
Despite these assertions, questions have been raised regarding whether or not religious individuals actually behave more prosocially than nonreligious individuals (Norenzayan & Shariff, 2008; Preston, Ritter, & Hernandez, 2010). For example, if there is a behavioral manifestation of religious prosociality, does this extend universally to all individuals or only to members of the religious ingroup? Is religious prosociality limited to certain contexts, or is it predictive of future behavior that generalizes to a wide range of contexts? Does religion itself cause these effects, or are effects due to more general psychological processes? Which specific aspects of religiosity are responsible for prosocial effects (e.g., beliefs, social or group influences, religious orientations)? Finally, are any religious effects exclusively prosocial, or are there concomitant nonprosocial aspects as well?
Goals of the Present Article
The aim of the present review is to critically examine the empirical support for the religious prosociality hypothesis in these domains. Although some aspects of religious prosociality are well supported by the literature, the interpretations regarding the mechanisms of the effects have often been incomplete or misleading.
First, conceptual and interpretive problems in the literature will be explored that indicate that religious prosociality effects are actually attributable to the presence of a ubiquitous stereotype regarding religious prosociality. Also, the identity of the target of prosociality— particularly a shared religious ingroup identity— can affect the quality of prosociality displayed by religious individuals (Norenzayan & Shariff, 2008). Religious prosociality can also vary substantially depending on the domain of behavior (e.g., planned vs. spontaneous helping) or the type of religiosity in question (Batson et al., 1989; Preston et al., 2010). Naturalistic studies using uncontrolled situations are not always the optimal paradigm for accurately assessing the mechanism of effect due to confounds.
Therefore, a comprehensive review of the literature on controlled economic studies and on religious priming is provided in order to ascertain any general prosocial trends. Although the effects in studies of religious prosociality are frequently interpreted as reflecting religious content (i.e., beliefs, teachings), in most cases the causal mechanism is not religious content itself, but the effect of other, more general, secular pathways. Next, a number of methodological problems, consistently found in the literature, that preclude a valid assessment of the religious prosociality hypothesis, will be covered. These include a reliance on self-report data or that contaminated by a lack of blindedness to the religious status of the participants, as well as comparisons between groups that do not adequately test or represent the underlying effects. The implications of these methodological problems for conclusions regarding religious prosociality will be discussed, and finally, the paradox of religiously related nonprosocial effects will be examined.
Conceptual Problems With Religious Prosociality Literature
Impression Formation and Religion–Morality Stereotype
The assumption that religiosity is associated with prosociality constitutes, in a majority of contexts, a ubiquitous general stereotype.
That is, most individuals have a strong tendency to assume that there is an association, and even a causal connection, between religiosity and morality. The pervasiveness and strength of this assumption is illustrated in opinion polls in which the majority of U.S. respondents report that children are more likely to grow up to be moral when raised in a religious faith, and that belief in God is a prerequisite to living a moral life (Farkas, Johnson, & Foleno, 2001). Conversely, the absence of religiosity is assumed to be associated with immorality. The nonreligious or atheists constitute one of the most negatively stereotyped demographic categories in the United States. A recent survey of Americans found that the only major group disliked more than Muslims was atheists (Edgell, Gerteis, & Hartmann, 2006). Indeed, exposure to either atheist or Muslim texts led to visceral disgust among Christians via a symbolic violation of spiritual purity (Ritter & Preston, 2011). The most frequently cited basis for negative attitudes toward the nonreligious is their perceived lack of morality. The stereotypes characterizing the nonreligious are invariably negative ones such as being hedonistic, cynical, and judgmental (Harper, 2007). Therefore, exposure to a societal milieu in which religiosity is assumed to be closely associated with morality is almost certainly one basis for the development of the stereotype that such a connection actually exists.
The evidence that the perception of religiously based morality is, in fact, based on biased impression formation has been demonstrated under controlled conditions, across a wide variety of judgment domains. When a target is labeled as religious, he or she is rated as being more moral, trustworthy, and likable than identical targets labeled as nonreligious (Bailey & Young, 1986; Galen, Smith, Knapp, & Wyngarden, 2011; Gervais, Shariff, & Norenzayan, 2011). Regular churchgoers are perceived more positively than those who do not regularly attend church (Isaac, Bailey, & Isaac, 1995). This halo effect extends beyond narrow categories of moral characteristics. Professionals who actively express religious beliefs are rated as more intelligent, likable, and trustworthy relative to those who do not espouse religious beliefs (Bailey & Doriot, 1985). The religion–morality stereotype is not limited to Western or Christian contexts. Chia and Jih (1994) found that Muslim individuals attributed more positive traits to models who were religiously attired (i.e., wearing a head scarf) relative to those who were not wearing clothing symbolic of the Muslim religion. Rather than trivial or inconsequential, this presumed connection between religiosity and morality has profound effects ranging from social exclusion to discrimination, even in legal contexts. For example, when mock jurors are exposed to evidence that a defendant has had a religious conversion subsequent to committing a crime, they become more lenient in sentencing (Miller & Bornstein, 2006). This general stereotype can have an effect on others’ behavior in the manner of a self-fulfilling prophesy. For example, when individuals were told that their partner in an economic game was majoring in religious studies (compared to business), the participants cooperated more with the partner (De Dreu, Yzerbyt, & Leyens, 1995). In sum, a general stereotype exists that religious individuals are more prosocial than nonreligious individuals.
Ingroup Favoritism
A second, but related, mechanism driving the perception of religiosity and prosociality is based on social identity theory. An extremely robust finding in the literature is that individuals display favoritism toward those with whom they share an identity (Hogg & Abrams, 1988; Turner, Brown, & Tajfel, 1979). This tendency results from the desire to maintain self-esteem and a positive social identity (Brewer & Brown, 1998). Shared religiosity is one of the most robust identity categories, associated with ingroup favoritism across a wide range of domains (Ben-Ner, McCall, Stephane, & Wang, 2009; Weeks & Vincent, 2007). When asked to form impressions of others, religious individuals favor other religious individuals and show outgroup derogation toward nonreligious individuals or those not from the same religious group (Rowatt, Franklin, & Cotton, 2005). Therefore, religion serves as a strong basis for shared social identity, and the expression of irreligion constitutes a boundary distinction. As a result, any impression formation of putative prosocial qualities is a function of the shared or unshared religious identity of the perceiver and the target rather than an unbiased perception of objective target characteristics.
The tendency for religious individuals to presume that other religious individuals possess superior moral characteristics may therefore represent ingroup favoritism rather than the accurate perception of actual moral quality of those individuals. This assumption is supported by studies that show that religious individuals favor other religious individuals regardless of whether the targets are behaving positively or negatively (Hunter, 2001). Similarly, in an economic trust paradigm, more religious players extended greater monetary offers to partners who were labeled as religious relative to one labeled as nonreligious (Tan & Vogel, 2008). Highly religious individuals rate targets who disclose a religious identity as being more likable, whereas the least religious individuals do not base likability or trustworthiness on the religious identity of a target (Bobkowski & Kalyanaraman, 2010).
Thus, a religious individual may trust another individual not because of knowledge that the target is inherently trustworthy, but because they share common group identification. This would imply that the perception of prosociality as characteristic of religious individuals is an intergroup phenomenon, with favoritism determined, in part, by the degree to which an individual is perceived as a member of one’s own religious ingroup (Tinoco, 1998). Conversely, the negatively biased perceptions of religious outgroup members may be, in part, motivated by the need to bolster religious individuals’ social identity (e.g., D. M. Taylor & Jaggi, 1974). Given that in the United States between 80% and 95% of the population is religious (depending on the phrasing of the question; Gallup & Lindsay, 1999), and around three quarters are nominally Christian, this identity constitutes a “default” such that even those who do not disclose a religious identity are presumed to be Christian unless explicitly labeled otherwise (Bobkowski & Kalyanaraman, 2010; Gervais et al., 2011). The consequence of this milieu is that participants will rate friends, acquaintances, or peers as being more prosocial if these individuals are known or presumed to share a religious group identity with the participant.
Critique of Naturalistic and Uncontrolled Studies of Religious Prosociality
These influences of religious ingroup favoritism and the existence of a religious prosociality stereotype therefore represent a problem for studies purporting to find a veridical religious prosociality link. To date, studies exploring the perception of religious individuals have typically failed to provide control over the religiosity of both the person making the judgment and the target of judgment. If raters are not blind to the religious status of the target, information regarding the presence or absence of religiosity contaminates any subsequent ratings of interpersonal qualities. For example, as indicated earlier, religious individuals have been rated by third parties as being nicer and more cooperative (Ellison, 1992; Morgan, 1983), which has been cited as evidence of actual prosociality.
However, in both of these studies, the rater was informed of the religious status of the target prior to the impression formation task, thus contaminating subsequent ratings. Similarly, Saroglou et al. (2005) suggested that ratings of religious targets as having high altruistic behavior and empathy (Studies 3 and 4) constituted valid indications of prosociality rather than “selfdelusion” or “moral hypocrisy” because these qualities were not merely self-ratings but were also perceived by peers (friends, siblings, or colleagues). However, these peers were not blind to the target’s religiosity, and ratings must therefore be interpreted in light of this contamination by rater bias.
Only an experimental paradigm in which the religiosity of both the perceiver and the target are controlled allows for accurate conclusions to be drawn regarding the morality–religion link.
When these conditions are met, there is a clear bias such that individuals identified as religious, even via implicit identifiers, are rated as being more prosocial than identically acting nonreligious individuals (Widman, Corcoran, & Nagy, 2009). Conversely, those who can be identified as nonreligious either by self-report or by nonverbal indicators are considered less prosocial relative to religious individuals, even when performing the same actions. This bias does not extend to mere socialization preference (in which case the religious and nonreligious individuals alike prefer to socialize with their own kind) but rather pertains to a specific moral perception (Galen et al., 2011). Gervais et al. (2011) used both explicit and implicit methodologies to determine that the specific reaction most associated with nonreligiosity such as atheism was distrust. However, general ingroup favoritism operative across all levels of religiosity cannot fully account for the results in these studies. First, nonreligious observers do not rate fellow nonreligious targets as more prosocial than religious targets. Second, the specific stereotypes regarding the nonreligious do not include negative associations in all domains (e.g., incompetence, stupidity) but rather those associated with lower prosociality (i.e., immorality or mistrust). The existence of a religious prosociality stereotype and religious ingroup bias has profound implications for interpretation of the literature in that not only self-reports but also unblinded peer ratings (e.g., personality traits) cannot be considered as accurate indicators when testing the religious prosociality hypothesis.
As was initially stated, reviews of naturalistic studies on charitable giving and volunteering have indicated that the religious report engaging in these behaviors to a greater degree than the nonreligious (Bekkers & Wiepking, 2007; Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1996; Lincoln et al., 2008; Monsma, 2007). However, as is the case with the impression formation literature, these naturalistic studies are also affected by religious ingroup favoritism. In settings with planned, nonspontaneous behaviors (e.g., charitable donations), it is difficult to completely distinguish religious from secular targets of prosociality (e.g., recipients of charity or volunteer work). As has been shown, religious individuals use the religious identity of a given target as an ingroup boundary distinction and regard coreligionists more favorably. Although more religious individuals report greater charitable involvement, another general trend is that religious organizations themselves are the largest sources of charitable giving (American Association of Fundraising Council Trust for Philanthropy, 2002; Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1996), thus making it difficult to separate universal prosocial tendencies from ingroup preferences. From the standpoint of defining prosociality as an inherent characteristic that would be predictive of future behavior or generalizable to other contexts, it is clearly necessary to separate generalized or universal prosociality from ingroup-specific giving. In addition, it provides useful information regarding the motivation of prosociality (i.e., universal or particularistic) to determine any discrepancy (e.g., decreased charitable giving) between situations in which the target or recipient is an in- versus outgroup member.
This distinction based on the target or recipient characteristics is relevant because there is ambiguity in the literature whether the greater charity and volunteering on behalf of religious individuals is equally manifest in contributions to secular as opposed to religious organizations (Bekkers & Wiepking, 2007). Although some argue that the religiously engaged give equally to religious and nonreligious or secular targets (Brooks, 2006; Putnam & Campbell, 2010), other studies find little effect of religiosity on nonreligious giving and volunteering (Hunsberger & Platonow, 1986; Lam, 2002; Park & Smith, 2000). Using data from the General Social Survey and Pew study of Religion and American Public Life, Monsma (2007) found that both high- and low religiosity individuals gave at roughly the same level to nonreligious
community causes and that the pattern in volunteering for nonreligious causes was similarly mixed. Although Putnam (2000) found that members of religious congregations were more likely than nonmembers to give to charities, this general organizational effect on generosity (i.e., being an active member of any organization) was even greater for members of secular organizations; members of both religious and secular groups volunteered the most. Therefore, rather than being a characteristic unique to religious communities, volunteerism by members of religious organizations
is similar to that of volunteerism on the part of secular organization members (Campbell & Yonish, 2003). However, participation in religious organizations is more likely to be subject to ingroup preferences. That is, the clear religious giving advantage in the literature is potentially problematic in terms of generalizability because the generosity on behalf of the religious may be greater for religious targets than nonreligious targets. Or as Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (2007) stated, “It appears that as families become highly committed to their religion their giving becomes more concentrated in their church, synagogue, temple, or mosque and less concentrated in secular causes” (p. 30).
One reason for the ambiguous findings in this area is that many studies in the existing literature do not clearly separate religious versus secular recipients of charitable giving. That is, many targets of giving designated as “nonreligious” or “secular” often include religiously associated groups and therefore may represent preferential or ingroup giving. Even secular charities or volunteer opportunities can be solicited through or organized by church groups.
They can also be staffed by religious ingroup members (Uslaner, 2002) or channel benefits toward ingroup targets such that secular giving is not necessarily religious outgroup giving, yet some surveys have categorized giving to religious hospitals or social services as secular. For example, in Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (2007) study, the category of “religious giving” referred narrowly to houses of worship or congregations, whereas all other forms of what was termed “secular giving” also included gifts to a school, program, or hospital run by a religious organization or those “that many would agree embodies spiritual values” (p. 7). The relative religious homogeneity in a given context is also relevant such that in a location where the vast majority of individuals are religious or from the same Christian denomination, even a secular food bank or homeless shelter may be tantamount to a religious organization in regard to activation of ingroup preferences in the individual donors. From the standpoint of separating out prosocial giving that is a function of ingroup preference, the inclusion of organizations potentially associated with religious values, although not strictly churches themselves, is problematic if the goal is to determine whether giving is universal and unaffected by group preference. Effects obtained in such a context are likely to be situation dependent and may say little about any universally prosocial qualities of individuals generalizable to other contexts. It is for these reasons that naturalistic studies of charitable giving are not optimal for a rigorous test of the religious prosociality hypothesis. As is the case in other areas of social psychology, designs in which contextual effects can be better controlled (e.g., quasi-experimental) are the least biased way in which to address religious prosociality because actual prosocial behaviors (e.g., sharing, cooperation) can be observed as a function of participant religiosity while minimizing confounds.
Review of Controlled Behavioral Economics Studies
The present review of controlled studies included published and unpublished works obtained from initial searches of PsycINFO, EconLit, and Google Scholar, followed by secondary searches of cited studies. Several studies were excluded from the present review due to their inability to provide a clear test of the religious prosociality hypothesis. For example, some studies only included religious participants and made comparisons between religious affiliations and denominations (e.g., Ben-Ner et al., 2009, Study 1; Johansson-Stenman, Mahmud, & Martinsson, 2009). Others, although related to religiosity, did not allow clear comparisons of behavior as a function of participant religiosity. Notably, Ruffle and Sosis (2006) studied cooperation by comparing Israeli kibbutz members to city residents, but the design did not allow a comparison of religious versus secular kibbutz members. As seen in Table 1, the most pertinent information includes the following: (a) study author citation, (b) type of prosociality assessed (e.g., sharing, cooperation), (c) participant religiosity, (d) target characteristics, and (e) results. The participant and target characteristics are discussed with particular attention to both participant religiosity effects and whether target religious identity was available to the participants (i.e., ingroup effects).
The most frequently used paradigms to measure prosocial sharing, generosity, trust, and cooperation involve controlled interactions, primarily in the form of economic games. The dictator game measures generosity or sharing; the first player is given the opportunity to send some, part, or all of an allocation to another player. This second player must accept or veto the offer and is later given any money offered by the first player. The prisoner’s dilemma, for example, is a trust game in which the first player can send some portion of an amount to a second player which is doubled by the experimenter. Without knowing what amount was sent, the second player then decides how much he or she wants to
return to the first player (Kagel & Roth, 1995). The public goods game measures cooperation. Players can contribute money to a public fund; contributions are doubled and distributed equally among all the players regardless of their individual contribution.
The trust game involves two players, A and B. At the first stage, player A is given a fixed amount of money and is asked to decide whether to transfer part of it to player B. The amount transferred is automatically tripled, and player B then needs to decide how much he or she wants to transfer back to player A. Player A typically sends a positive amount of money to player B, who often returns an even larger amount. In such an experiment, the amount that player A transfers to player B serves as an indication of trust or cooperation between them. Thus, whenever a player is more trusted or there is more cooperation between players, the overall pie is larger.
A general summation of results is difficult due to differences in design. Overall, the proportion of studies that find some effect of religiosity is roughly equal to those finding no effect. However the most evident trend in the results regards the interaction between the participant’s religiosity and the target’s depicted religiosity (in those cases when the design made these clearly discernible). That is, across the range of studies of sharing, cooperation, generosity, or trust, when the religiosity of the target was clearly labeled as different from the religiosity of the participant, the prosocial behavior
of religious participants was lower relative to when there was a shared religious identity. For example, Ahmed (2009) found that clergy students extended greater monetary offers than nonclergy students, but only to those from their own group. One caveat to this is that the overall assessment of religious prosociality is not able to be properly tested in most of the studies due to a lack of labeled in- and outgroup targets, thus preventing a clear assessment of whether prosociality is displayed equally to all targets.
Therefore, caution must be used because typically the target partner in the majority of studies is not identified or is anonymous, obviating any ingroup effect comparison. For example, Sosis and Ruffle (2003) found that males from the religious kibbutz cooperated more than those from the secular kibbutz, but the partners with whom participants were paired had been depicted to them as being from their own type of kibbutz, preventing a religious versus secular participant and target comparison (i.e., to determine whether there was greater cooperation among the religious kibbutzim beyond their fellow members).
Nonetheless, when examining only those studies with identifiable target characteristics, the general trend clearly indicates that religious individuals did share or cooperate more than nonreligious participants— but only when the target shared a religious identity (Ben-Ner et al., 2009, Study 2; Fershtman, Gneezy, & Verboven 2005). In one of the only designs in which participant and target religious identity were independently varied, Tan and Vogel (2008) found that religious targets were trusted by all levels of religious participants, but more religious participants trusted religious
targets more than did nonreligious participants. These findings suggest that any prosociality shown by more religious participants may be attributable to an assumption that the target is another religious individual. These results also indicate that within an ingroup trend there is also evidence of a shared social stereotype such that religious targets are shown preference (in the form of greater offers or trust) over nonreligious targets by all participants, regardless of religiosity (Orbell, Goldman, Mulford, & Dawes, 1992; Paciotti et al., 2011). Conversely, there does not appear to be any evidence demonstrating that religious individuals extend universal prosociality beyond their group to labeled outgroup targets. Rather, any religious prosociality in these quasiexperimental studies is extended only to ingroup members.
Review of Controlled Studies of Religious Priming
One area of the experimental literature that has garnered increasing attention in recent years includes the use of activation or priming of religious concepts in order to examine prosocial and other effects. Priming effects have been obtained by processes ranging from the use of subliminal presentation of words in a lexical decision task to conducting the study in a religious versus secular context. The most common experimental design typically compares one group shown religious words in a scrambled sentence task to another group with scrambled neutral words. Although some studies have included measures of participant religiosity, others have not. Table 2 contains similar information to Table 1 but with the addition of the nature of the religious prime. The methodology of literature searching was identical to the one described earlier of the behavioral economics literature. Some priming studies were not included because the behaviors of interest were not unequivocally prosocial, such as task persistence (Tobu-ren & Meier, 2010) or rewarding sacrificial punishment (Bulbulia & Mahoney, 2008).
One clear finding is that in almost all studies, religious priming has the effect of increasing prosocial behavior in the same behavioral economic interactions discussed in the previous section (i.e., sharing, trust, and cooperation). That is, priming with religious concepts nearly always resulted in more generous offers to game partners and more sharing of funds. In addition to the standard economic games, studies have found religious priming effects in promoting honesty (Randolph-Seng & Nielsen, 2007) and charitable intentions (Pichon, Boccato, & Saroglou, 2007). It therefore appears fairly conclusive that priming religious concepts activates prosocial behaviors in participants.
Review of Controlled Studies of Priming: Nonprosocial Effects
In addition to studies of behaviors that, when present, are unequivocally positive (e.g., sharing, generosity), other studies of religious priming have measured nonprosocial behaviors such as,such as cheating, aggression, or prejudice (recognizing that behavior such as cheating vs. honesty could be characterized as either prosocial or nonprosocial depending on how one categorizes the presence or absence of the measured phenomenon). As can be seen in Table 3, priming with religious concepts has elicited a range of such behaviors. For example, priming individuals with Christian
concepts increases covert prejudice and negative affect toward African Americans (Johnson, Rowatt, & LaBouff, 2010). In another example, Vilaythong Tran, Lindner, and Nosek (2010) found that priming Christians with the Christian version of the Golden Rule did not reduce their explicit or implicit homophobia. However, priming the Christians with the Buddhist equivalent of the Golden Rule (“Never hatred is hatred appeased, but it is appeased by kindness”) resulted in Christians becoming more homophobic in their explicit attitudes, possibly because the message was seen as coming from an outgroup source. Other work suggests that aggressive actions are potentiated when they are primed by religious
contextualization. Bushman, Ridge, Das, Key, and Busath (2007) exposed participants to a violent passage from an “ancient text,” which in one condition was specifically identified as the Bible. Participants who were given a version of this Bible story in which God is depicted as sanctioning the violent act later gave a partner higher levels of sound blasts. Another trend in this literature is that the nonprosocial priming effects have been found to interact with participant characteristics.
For example, Saroglou, Corneille, and Van Cappellen (2009) found that the subjects who were encouraged by an experimenter to take revenge on a critical confederate, and who also tended to be high in levels of submissiveness, were most likely to behave vengefully when primed by religious words. Therefore, a comparison of the prosocial priming studies in Table 2 with the nonprosocial studies in Table 3 indicates that religiosity has effects on both types of behaviors, dependent on the variables of interest in the specific study. For example, religious priming increased sharing
(Ahmed & Salas, 2008) and honesty (Randolph-Seng & Nielson, 2007), but it also increased retaliatory aggression and prejudice.
Likewise, Laurin, Kay, and Fitzsimons (2011) found that religious priming simultaneously increases temptation resistance but also decreases active goal pursuit. In sum, activation of religious concepts via priming appears to involve a mixture of associations promoting prosociality with ingroup familiars but also heightened awareness of outgroups and increased authoritarianism.
Heterogeneity of Religiosity
One factor that contributes to the variation in effect obtained across controlled studies pertains to the different ways in which religiosity can be conceptualized. For example, some studies found prosocial effects as a function of the participants’ denominational (e.g., Catholic, Protestant, none) affiliation (Anderson & Mellor, 2009; E. Fehr, Fischbacher, Von Rosenbladt, Schupp, & Wagner, 2003), whereas others found prosocial effects as a function of religious service attendance but not denomination (Anderson, Mellor, & Milyo, 2010) or effects of different types of religiosity for different prosocial domains (Tan, 2006). In addition to affiliation and religious attendance, research in the psychology of religion has identified religious orientations that conceptualize the ways in which individuals hold religious beliefs rather than merely the presence or absence of belief. For example, Allport’s dimensional model of religious orientation distinguishes the personal importance of religion (“intrinsic religiosity”) from that based upon utilitarian motivations (“extrinsic”; Allport & Ross, 1967). Another conceptualization that has received attention is Batson’s “quest” religiosity, which is characterized by an open-ended and complex approach that stands in contrast to religious fundamentalism, in which belief is more fixed and rigid (Altemeyer & Hunsberger, 1992). The minority of controlled studies of prosociality that have included separate dimensional measures often have found differing effects for differing conceptualizations of religiosity.
For example, Paciotti et al. (2011, Study 2) found prosocial effects (sharing) for those higher in intrinsic and quest religiosity but lower prosociality for those high in extrinsic religiosity. Similarly, Leach, Berman, and Eubanks (2008) found a distinction between self-reported and actual aggression as a function of intrinsic versus extrinsic religiosity. Other work has found differing prosocial associations for religious group affiliation as opposed to spiritual or belief endorsement (Preston et al., 2010). In sum, these results indicate that different conceptual forms of religiosity have quite varied and complex associations with both prosocial and nonprosocial behavior, which may explain why activation of religious concepts by priming, for example, can produce opposing effects.
Implications of Controlled Studies for the Religious Prosociality Literature
Taken as a whole, the work using controlled methodology to study religious prosociality has effects that are somewhat paradoxical.
The behavioral economics paradigms indicate that religiosity appears to be associated with increased generosity but is also marked by ingroup bias. In a similar manner, the evidence indicates that the effects elicited by religious priming are a mixture of both prosocial and nonprosocial associations, possibly dependent upon the type of religious concept being activated and the behavior being assessed. As was covered earlier in the description of the impression formation literature, the appearance of religious prosociality manifested in the ratings of individuals is in most studies actually contaminated by the religion–morality stereotype and ingroup bias. This bias becomes apparent when examined with controlled studies in which the identity of targets can be manipulated.
What appears to be greater prosociality in the behavioral economics and priming studies is, when examined in controlled circumstances, actually indicative of a selective type of prosociality, including ingroup favoritism.
This more circumscribed prosociality pattern is also reflected in the general literature beyond the controlled experimental studies (Norenzayan & Shariff, 2008). Saroglou (2006) has suggested the term minimal prosociality to refer to greater helping on the part of the religious that is extended to friends and ingroup members but not to outgroup members and those who threaten religious values.
For example, in the series of four studies by Saroglou et al. (2005), the type of prosociality measured (i.e., helping peers and family) referred to a willingness to help close rather than unknown targets.
In another example, experimental results regarding covert prejudice elicited by priming with Christian concepts (Johnson et al., 2010) match nonexperimental findings in which religiosity is associated with ethnic prejudice via social conformity and traditionalism, such that greater religious humanitarianism is reserved only for fellow ingroup members (Hall, Matz, & Wood, 2010).
Thus, one qualification of religiosity-based prosociality is that the primary beneficiaries are ingroup members. This qualification, however is often lost in broader coverage of religion and prosociality, as exemplified by summations of the literature referred to earlier. For example, although Baumeister et al. (2010) stated that religious precepts such as the Ten Commandments assist in channeling self-control to “do what is good for the collective society” (p. 74), the evidence illustrated in the studies reviewed here indicates that any prosocial effect is often dependent on factors such as the group identity of the recipient of the assistance rather than society as a whole.
This finding of “minimal” or particular prosociality in the experimental literature is also reflected in the types of social values held by the religious and nonreligious as found in correlational studies. McCullough and Willoughby (2009) correctly pointed out that research using the Schwartz Value Survey indicates that religiousness is positively associated with valuing tradition (“respectful,” “helpful,” and “responsible”) and conformity (“politeness,” “self-discipline,” “honoring parents and elders”). But arguably, the Schwartz value dimensions most relevant to prosociality are benevolence (the enhancement of the welfare of the people with whom one is in frequent personal contact) and universalism (protection of the welfare of all people). A large body of work across different cultures and religions has shown that religiosity is weakly but positively correlated with benevolence but negatively related with the value of universalism (Pepper, Jackson, & Uzzell, 2010; Saroglou, Delpierre, & Dernelle, 2004). Schwartz and Huismans (1995) suggested that the particularism and ingroupbinding function of religion reduces the importance attributed to concern for others outside the group. Thus, although McCullough and Willoughby are correct in suggesting that religiosity directs people toward “families and larger social collectives,” it is more accurate to conclude that religiosity is positively associated with ingroup value but negatively associated with universal cooperation with heterogeneous groups or outgroup affiliation.
This has been observed in the experimental and quasiexperimental literature by employing designs that vary the context of the study, such as the targets. For example, Orbell et al. (1992) found that behavioral cooperation was greater among members of the Latter Day Saints church (i.e., Mormons or LDS) when the study was conducted in Utah (an area with an overwhelming LDS majority) than in Oregon (where LDS individuals were in the minority). Again, this qualification based on target status is often not mentioned in the overall conclusion that religious individuals are more generous with charity and volunteering. It is more accurate to state that religious individuals tend to be more generous in naturalistic studies in which there is an inability to control for the context and target characteristics. Often ingroup effects are simply not apparent due to religiously homogeneous contexts with the absence of comparison groups (as observed in the controlled studies), but are more visible in situations wherein religious individuals perceive a conflict of interest between their group and other religious groups.
This effect can also be observed in the naturalistic studies pertaining to charitable giving and volunteering. It was mentioned that there are often problems distinguishing religious and secular influences on giving due to a lack of control over the religious identity of targets, such that religious giving appears to be preferentially directed toward religious ingroup targets. A broader but related problem is seen when comparing charitable giving across nations as a function of the social and political orientation of givers. There are systematic differences in attitudes toward giving such that political conservatives (who tend to be more religious) tend to view charity as a private matter (Brooks, 2006). In contrast, liberals are more likely to view charity as a collective governmental responsibility, and therefore advocate societal redistribution through higher taxes and greater national aid (Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003; Wiepking, 2010), which would not be identified in a study focused on reports of private charitable giving or volunteering. Thus, the selection of findings indicating that religious individuals tend to report higher rates of planned prosociality, such as charity and volunteering, represents a methodological confound based on a preference for the type or manner of prosocial giving. For example, as indicated by the Commitment to Development index (Center for Global Development, 2004, 2005), the least religious nations—those in Scandinavia and northern Europe—tend to have lower rates of private charity allocations relative to the United States but much greater per capita public allocations. Indeed, national church attendance in a given country is inversely related to support for governmental spending on developing nations (Center for Global Development, 2005).
A similar effect has been observed at the national level; support for charitable giving often varies as a function of the predominant religiosity of the region or country. For example, when comparing support for welfare spending across different nationalities, religiosity predicts greater welfare support when government spending can assist members of state churches or direct money to religious groups (Chen & Lind, 2007). Similarly, the more polarized the religious context in a country, the more religious individuals, relative to seculars, oppose income redistribution by the state (Stegmueller, Scheepers, Rossteutscher, & de Jong, 2011). That is, religious people may appear more charitable because of their higher levels of giving and support for agencies that predominate in religious contexts, when in fact they show greater particularism in preferring religious over secular causes, in accordance with greater ingroup favoritism (Monsma, 2007). In fact, greater religious particularism is related to lower willingness to donate money (Reitsma, Scheepers, & te Grotenhuis, 2006). Even within religious groups, giving by church members is a function of the solidarity they feel toward that particular congregation (Peifer, 2007). Thus, findings are a reflection of what is found in the quasi-experimental and priming literature such that greater generosity in some contexts may actually contain ingroup favoritism when target characteristics are different.
One caveat pertains to the various conceptualizations of religiosity. The overall findings of ingroup bias, such as is seen in thestudies in Tables 1–3, vary as a function of the type of religiosity in question as well as traits such as authoritarianism (Hunsberger & Jackson, 2005). As a general trend, ingroup bias is greater and individuals discriminate more on the basis of the target’s religious group similarity to the degree that their religiosity is defined by fundamentalism and authoritarianism (Johnson et al., 2011). Conversely, those who are higher on quest religiosity or low fundamentalism appear to behave prosocially with less regard to group identification. This presents a “glass half empty, glass half full” situation for religious prosociality in that religiosity itself (i.e., with the variance due to fundamentalism and authoritarianism removed) is unrelated, or negatively related to ingroup bias, and any associated prosociality is more universal (Laythe, Finkel, & Kirkpatrick, 2001). However, it is well established that religiosity is moderately correlated with authoritarianism; subsequently, those with the least prejudice and the most universal prosociality have consistently been those high on quest religiosity (low fundamentalist) and those who are completely nonreligious (Altemeyer & Hunsberger, 1992). Therefore, the nonprosocial effects of religious priming are likely the result of an activation of authoritarianism, submission, or traditionalism in religious individuals. These studies indicate that religiosity could have nonprosocial effects in situations in which it disinhibits aggression or activates the tendency of some individuals to acquiesce to nonbenevolent social norms (e.g., authoritarian aggression, racial or sexual prejudice, parochialism).
Religious Effects Versus General Psychological Processes
As mentioned above, the religious prosociality hypothesis posits that religious content, such as doctrines or reminders of moralistic monitoring, act as the mechanism of action. Priming, for example, has been suggested to have pronounced effects within religious believers (Koole et al., 2010). That is, the hypothesized mechanism of action is often assumed to be sui generis and a function of religious concepts and their effect on religious individuals who endorse them. However, as indicated in Tables 2 and 3, in the majority of cases in which participant religiosity was measured continuously, a religious priming effect was present regardless of the level of participant religiosity (or present even with individual religiosity controlled): Ahmed and Hammarstedt (2011); Ahmed and Salas (2008); Ahmed and Salas (2011a, 2011b); Gervais and Norenzayan (2012, Study 2); Johnson et al. (2010); LaBouff and Johnson (2012); Laurin et al. (2011); Pichon and Saroglou (2009); Randolph-Seng and Nielson (2007, Study 2); Saroglou et al. (2009, Study 2); Sasaki et al. (2011); Shariff and Norenzayan (2007, Study 1); Van Cappellen, Corneille, Cols, and Saroglou (2011).
For example, in both Shariff and Norenzayan (2007, Study 1) and Randolph-Seng and Nielsen (2007, Study 2), religious priming resulted in the reduction of cheating behavior; however, this was true of both religious and nonreligious participants. In contrast, only a minority of studies feature an effect of religious priming that is dependent on participants’ religiosity level: Carpenter and Marshall (2009); Gervais and Norenzayan (2012, Studies 1 and 3); Horton, Rand, and Zeckhauser (2010, Study 3); McKay, Efferson, Whitehouse, and Fehr (2011); Paciotti et al. (2011, Study 2); Shariff and Norenzayan (2007, Study 2). A few studies have identified main effects for religious primes on all participants as well as a significantly stronger effect for religious participants (e.g., Bushman et al., 2007, Study 2). Some studies are difficult to assess in this regard because of highly nonnormal distributions of religiosity (e.g., truncation at the low end to exclude the completely nonreligious). For example, although Tsang, Schulwitz, and Carlisle (2011) found greater behavioral reciprocity for the religiously primed, the analysis on the range of intrinsic religiosity only included those at least moderately religious (i.e., midpoint and above). Additionally, there are a small number of studies that included multidimensional measures of religiosity with priming effects for some, but not other dimensions (e.g., Leach et al., 2008).
The results of these controlled studies have several implications for the religious prosociality hypothesis. In their review, Baumeister et al. (2010) suggested that the priming effects are driven by a moralistic audience such that the belief that one’s actions are constantly and inescapably being observed by a divine being may be a strong stimulus and reminder to be aware of one’s actions. . . . [T]he idea that a god is watching one’s every move supports self-control beyond the simple fact of fostering public self-consciousness. (p. 76) McCullough and Willoughby (2009) suggested that the perception of being watched by supernatural entities can increase conscientious behavior via increased self-awareness. Indeed, Gervais and Norenzayan (2012) found that conceptual God-related primes increased public self-awareness and socially desirable responding among believers. However, in the priming literature, the use of secular primes (e.g., Shariff & Norenzayan, 2007, used words like civil and court) have yielded results identical to religious primes.
In their review, Norenzayan and Shariff (2008) pointed out several examples in which a reminder of any watchful third party promotes honesty and lowers hypocrisy. Priming with the category of superhero increases future volunteering behavior (Nelson & Norton, 2005). Other contextual primes found to function in this manner include a mirror (Batson, Thompson, Seuferling, Whitney, & Strongman, 1999), eyespots (Bateson, Nettle, & Roberts, 2006), and even suggesting to participants that a dead student’s ghost might haunt the laboratory (Bering, McLeod, & Shackelford, 2005).
This equivalence between religious and secular priming can be observed in the domain of compensatory control, in which belief in either God or secular authority (i.e., government) concepts appear to be equally useful in compensating with a loss of personal control (Kay, Shepherd, Blatz, Chua, & Galinsky, 2010). Similarly, priming with secular authority concepts reduces distrust of the nonreligious, implying that the stereotype regarding lower morality of nonbelievers is due to a lack of endorsement of supernatural monitoring, because this can be ameliorated to the extent that individuals can be reminded that morality can be monitored in other ways (Gervais & Norenzayan, in press). Therefore, when Baumeister et al. (2010) referred to prosociality in the context of belief in a “divine being” or stated that the religious stimuli “prompted participants to evaluate their behaviors againsta higher religious ideal” (p. 76), this is only partially true; any secular ideal standard or increase in self-awareness can achieve similar effects, and this mechanism is not uniquely dependent on the religiosity of a given prime. Likewise, several authors have argued that these effects are activated via a unique mechanism in religious individuals. For example, in their review, Koole et al. (2010) contended that “the effects of religious [primes] are most pronounced among religiously identified individuals” (p. 100).
However, in the majority of studies, religious priming appears to have an effect regardless of the participant’s level of religiosity.
Therefore, taken together, the fact that the effects of priming typically do not depend on the religiosity of the participant and, when secular primes are used, similar prosocial effects are attained, this indicates that the mechanism of prosociality is not due primarily to religious content or individuals’ endorsement of beliefs.
As Randolph-Seng and Nielsen (2008) themselves pointed out in a commentary on Shariff and Norenzayan (2007), a more parsimonious explanation is that any words sharing a stereotypical connection with prosociality lead to honest behavior due to the priming of general, commonly held cultural associations with morality (Laurin et al., 2011). For example, some have suggested that such priming activates evolved mechanisms that promote prosociality via the activation of third-party watchfulness or reputational concerns (Norenzayan & Shariff, 2008). This is relevant to the aforementioned general stereotype that religiosity is tantamount to morality, which is consensually endorsed by both religious and nonreligious individuals alike. The dependence of prosocial effects on a general stereotype is more consistent with the majority of literature using behavioral measures of honesty, cheating, and generosity under controlled conditions that has consistently failed to find religious effects either way (e.g., R. E. Smith, Wheeler, & Diener, 1975; Williamson & Assadi, 2005)—because personal religiosity as a participant trait is less relevant than a proximal activation of any prosocial association including, but not limited to, religiosity.
In addition to the nonspecific nature of religious priming is a dearth of studies that subdivide religious primes to determine which aspects of religious concepts are efficacious at activating prosocial associations. In one of the only studies to do so, Pichon et al. (2007) found that priming with positive religious words (heavenmiraclebless), but not neutral religious words (bible, disciplechapel), increased behavioral intentions to help (i.e., taking a pamphlet regarding volunteering). In a second study, prosocial words were more accessible after positive, but not neutral, religious priming. Given that only positive religious, but not general religious, content activated a prosocial schema, this would seem to indicate that the priming mechanism consisted of a general social stereotype of prosociality, rather than a unique capacity of religion in general to create or activate a prosocial schema.
Some have suggested that such a merely stereotypical association is not sufficient to explain the apparent prosocial effect of religious priming. McCullough and Willoughby (2009) reported on a self-control experiment (Fishbach, Friedman, & Kruglanski, 2003) in which the subliminal presentation of temptation/sinrelated primes led to faster subsequent activation of religionrelevant words compared with neutral primes. McCullough and Willoughby suggested that Fishbach et al. (2003) is “the best direct evidence to date that religious mental content is capable of increasing self-control” (p. 76). This priming was asymmetrical; presentation of religious words did not lead to faster recognition of temptation/sin-related words—an effect the authors claimed argues against the association being accounted for by mere association.
However, mere association can often be asymmetrical depending on the relative salience of the two categories (Tversky, 1977). For example, the word God may activate sex but not vice versa, due to the more frequent linkage of the former ordering in common parlance. McCullough and Willoughby also cited Wenger’s (2007) finding in which individuals are reminded to think of the ways in which their behavior has fallen short of religious standards and subsequently seek opportunities to improve themselves in religious domains. No mention is made that this mechanism is not uniquely religious or could not be achieved via priming secular standards. It is therefore premature to suggest that religiosity itself is responsible for such effects unless secular comparisons are used or the mere stereotypic association of religion with prosociality is controlled.
Methodological Problems With Religious Prosociality Literature
In addition to conceptual problems, arguments supporting religious prosociality have been based on studies in which methodological,problems often lead to misleading conclusions. As discussed,earlier, there is substantial evidence that a general stereotype exists such that religiosity is presumed to be associated with prosociality. This stereotype is more strongly endorsed by individuals with greater religiosity, but is also fairly ubiquitous.
This indicates that any method of assessment that relies upon self-reports of prosocial outcomes (e.g., predictions of hypothetical behavior, estimates of future actions) would be contaminated by biases based on stereotype endorsement in the same manner as impression formation ratings of others. Although Saroglou et al. (2005) argued that self-reports of morality are veridical and not contaminated by self-deception or self-enhancement (because they are validated by peer and family reports), the experimental evidence suggests otherwise. For example, high levels of intrinsic religiosity (i.e., high personal importance of religion) appear to be linked with a view of oneself as better than others, thus indicating self-enhancement (Rowatt, Ottenbreit, Nesselroade, & Cunningham, 2002). The results of this study were not likely due solely to an accurate perception of adherence to religious precepts, because the highly religious evaluated themselves as superior to nonreligious subjects even on nonreligious attributes. Similarly, individuals higher on intrinsic religiosity rate themselves as being more helpful relative even to other religious individuals (Burris & Jackson, 2000). Therefore, although most people are prone to positive illusions (S. E. Taylor, 1989), greater religiosity appears to be associated with relatively greater positive illusion. That is, the more religious an individual is, the more likely he or she will be to inflate self-ratings of prosocial characteristics, rendering any results based on self-reports suspect.
An ongoing debate in the literature concerns the relationship between religiosity and religious individuals’ tendency to have elevated scores on measures of social desirability or selfenhancement.
One view suggests that there is evidence that religious individuals tend to self-enhance and may inflate their responses in a socially desirable direction (Sedikides & Gebauer, 2010). McCullough and Willoughby (2009) also conceded that religiousness is positively correlated with public selfconsciousness (e.g., “making a good impression”). In a metaanalysis of social desirability literature, intrinsic religiosity correlated moderately and positively with measures of self-deceptive enhancement and impression management (Trimble, 1997). However, Trimble (1997) argued that the greater scores on standard social desirability scales shown by those higher in intrinsic religiosity were an artifact of content overlap. This contrary view, represented by Trimble and others, such as Watson, Morris, Foster, and Hood (1986), posits that the intrinsically religious actually do perform more moral actions and thus social desirability measures reflect actual prosocial characteristics. Others have argued that, even controlling for religious content, intrinsic religiosity is associated with both self-deception and impression management (Leak & Fish, 1989). Thus, debate is ongoing regarding the interpretation of enhanced or desirable responding in relation to religiosity.
However, higher quality controlled studies (i.e., those in which either religiosity or enhancement tendencies can be manipulated), rather than those using correlational measures (e.g., impression management questionnaires), suggest that greater social desirability scores on the part of the religious are not a function merely of content overlap but instead represent self-enhancement. For example, priming highly religious believers with God concepts results in greater socially desirable responding (Gervais & Norenzayan, 2012), indicating that there is an associative connection between the two domains. Priming of such associations also works in the opposite direction. Christians with experimentally induced high self-esteem believed they lived up to core Christian principles more than their fellow believers (Alicke & Sedikides, 2009). Burris and Navara (2002) found that the high intrinsically religious, following an induced negative self-disclosure, showed a greater shift in self-deception as a compensatory response than low intrinsics, indicating that the highly religious may have a particular need to defend a positive self-image. Similarly, Burris and Jackson (2000) found that high-intrinsic religious individuals increased religious self-stereotyping when false feedback disconfirmed participants’ self-perceived helpfulness. This is consistent with a pattern such that highly religious individuals may be motivated to maintain the appearance of prosociality and are threatened by information that would disconfirm this. Therefore, the experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that the correlation between religiosity and self-reported prosociality is artificially elevated due to a contamination of self-enhanced and socially desirable responding.
Bias in Self-Reports Versus Behavioral Measures of Prosociality
There is a general tendency for individuals to overreport prosocial actions based on introspective intentions (Batson, 1991; Wilson, 2002). As such, self-reports of hypothetical actions or future intentions are positively biased in most individuals and often do not predict actual behavior. However, a strong endorsement or internalization of the religious prosociality stereotype (e.g., “religiosity should make me more moral”) and self-enhancement tendencies likely lead to a greater disjunction between self-reports of prosociality and actual prosocial behavior. Indeed, the most problematic aspect to the religious prosociality hypothesis is the disjunction in results obtained by methodology in controlled or experimental contexts using actual behavioral observations versus those obtained via self-report measures. The data based on selfreports of prosocial behavior (e.g., planned charitable giving, hypothetical helping) typically show a stronger correlation between religiosity and prosociality than the data based on actual behaviors, in which there is no general religious prosociality effect. This pattern shows that religious individuals self-report in a manner consistent with the expectations of the social stereotype or activation of religious frame rather than according to actual behavioral tendencies. For example, measures more linked with actual behaviors (e.g., time diaries) produce a lower frequency of church attendance than self-reports (Brenner, 2011a, 2011b), a disjunction that is wider in the religiously normative United States than in Europe. This is consistent with an interpretation of selfreporting as reflecting an attempt to portray an identity reflective of religious stereotypes such that more religious individuals selfreport (i.e., overreport) what should be the case. In contrast, behavioral studies of spontaneous helping, conducted contexts in which a religious frame is not activated, using targets who are not ingroup members, are much less likely to show prosocial effects.
For example, everyday behavioral interactions with strangers such as blood donation, financial transactions, tipping, or anonymous payment on the “honors system” do not show a religious prosociality effect (Gillum & Masters, 2010; Grossman & Parrett, 2011; Pruckner & Sausgruber, 2008).
In his programmatic exploration of the relationship between religiosity and motivation for helping, Batson has argued that self-reported intrinsic religiosity is more associated with the need to appear helpful than with actual helpful behaviors (Batson & Flory, 1990). For example, in the “Good Samaritan” bystander assistance study, individuals high in intrinsic religiosity were no more likely to offer assistance than moderate intrinsics or individuals high in quest religiosity (characterized by open-ended or uncertain beliefs), but those high intrinsics that assisted did so in a more “insistent” manner that disregarded the victim’s stated wishes (Darley & Batson, 1973). In a series of studies designed to separate different motivations for helping, intrinsic religiosity was more strongly related to the appearance of helping than an actual desire to assist others (Batson & Gray, 1981; Batson et al., 1989).
This pattern is also seen in the disjunction between reports of planned helping behavior (e.g., volunteer work or charitable giving), which is more associated with self-presentation, and reports of unplanned or spontaneous helping. As is the case with other studies of religiosity, differing measures often yield different patterns of prosociality (e.g., the stronger relationship between intrinsic religiosity and planned helping vs. quest religiosity and spontaneous helping; Hansen, Vandenberg, & Patterson, 1995). These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that religiosity promotes a self-stereotype of prosociality, such that more religious individuals defend this stereotype to preserve the appearance of prosociality (Burris & Jackson, 2000).
Therefore, the evidence indicates that endorsement of the religious prosociality hypothesis allows a discrepancy between merely holding altruistic or prosocial beliefs regarding one’s self and actually engaging in prosocial actions. For example, statistical analyses of religious measures often indicate an orthogonal relationship between “vertical faith” (concerning one’s relationship with God) and “horizontal faith” (relationship with others; Ji, Pendergraft, & Perry, 2006). Indeed, Ji et al. (2006) found that greater intrinsic religiosity was associated with a greater discrepancy between altruistic beliefs and actual altruistic behavior. The stereotype of religious prosociality partially explains the existence of this gap because greater vertical religiosity would promote the endorsement of moral teaching in the abstract without necessarily resulting in an increase in actual prosocial behavior associated with horizontal religiosity. In another example, although greater religiosity is associated with greater valuation of forgiveness (McCullough & Worthington, 1999), its association with actual forgiveness of transgressions is negligible (Brown, Barnes, & Campbell, 2007), accounting for around 3%–4% of variance, similar to the effect size of social desirability (R. Fehr, Gelfand, & Nag, 2010; Tsang, McCullough, & Hoyt, 2005). Similarly, although those high in intrinsic religiosity self-report as having amore grateful disposition, this is not associated with actual reciprocal behavioral gratitude (Tsang et al., 2011). In their review of the religiosity and forgiveness literature, McCullough and Worthington (1999) suggested that religious people are conscious that they should value forgiveness highly in order to be consistent with religious teachings, and “even if religious people are no more facile at forgiving in real-life situations than are less religious people, they do desire to be forgiving” (p. 1152). However, it may be the case that endorsement of prosociality based on religious motivation acts as a distractor or barrier to an accurate appraisal of one’s behavior.
Given the link between religiosity, impression management, and self-deception, any evidence based on self-report methodology must be heavily qualified. However, McCullough and Willoughby (2009) based much of their argument regarding religiously based self-control on self-report. For example, the authors cited research based on “perceived likelihood of future criminal activity” and “predictions of likelihood of engaging in several crimes” (Welch, Tittle, & Grasmick, 2006), indices that are obviously contaminated by self-deception. Many similar studies are equally problematic because their measures consist of predicting hypothetical prosocial behavior (e.g., planned charitable donations) rather than using actual behavioral measures (Reitsma et al., 2006). As cited earlier, given that those higher in intrinsic religiosity rate themselves as superior on a wide range of behaviors, there is every reason to think that future predictions of behavior are subject to similar self-serving bias. Taken as a whole, the evidence indicates that religiosity has an effect only on self-reports of prosociality rather than actual behaviors in most contexts. As the standard textbook in the psychology of religion field (Hood et al., 2009) concludes, “There are indications that religious people say they are more honest, but the data do not always bear this out for actual behavior in a secular setting” (p. 434).
Personality research regarding religious prosociality is also subject to the same stereotypic and ingroup effects as is the case with the impression formation literature due to the same reliance on self- and peer reports. For example, McCullough and Willoughby (2009) pointed to the higher levels of rated Agreeableness inreligious individuals (e.g., judged in interviews as being more cooperative and “nicer”) as constituting veridical and objective qualities. Similarly, McCullough and Willoughby cited ratings of cooperativeness such as in Walker (1999), in which individuals rated the prototype of a “religious person” as being high in Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. However, the religious perceive themselves and fellow religious individuals as being more agreeable than nonreligious individuals in part because they believe that these traits should be associated with religiosity. As mentioned earlier, when targets are portrayed as religious, they are judged to be more likable, intelligent, trustworthy, kind, and moral (Bailey & Doriot, 1985; Galen et al., 2011; Widman et al., 2009), characteristics associated with Agreeableness. Conversely, the nonreligious are rated as being hedonistic, cynical, and judgmental (Harper, 2007), characteristics central to the (reversed) traits of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. When Saroglou et al. (2005) and McCullough and Willoughby cited the association between religiousness and self-control, it must be qualified that the measures in the reviewed studies were almost always self-, peer, and parental reports unblinded to the religious status of the target. As Saroglou (2010) pointed out in a meta-analysis of personality and religiosity, “The personality profile of religious people as being high in Agreeableness and Conscientiousness . . . constitutes stereotypical and metastereotypical knowledge that is shared, to some extent, by both religious and nonreligious people” (p. 117). Responses to personality inventories in general are susceptible to both selfdeception and impression management (Barrick & Mount, 1996) such that anyone with a “moralistic bias” would self-report and berated by others as being specifically higher in Agreeableness and Conscientiousness (Paulhus & John, 1998). Indeed, those two personality factors (along with Emotional Stability) are significantly higher in individuals assessed while attempting to project a positive response set (Furnham, 1997). Therefore self- and peer ratings of prosocial personality traits are tantamount to the wellestablished impression formation bias of religiosity mentioned earlier, since merely changing a target’s identity to “religious” results in increased peer ratings of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness.
Stereotypical associations are also relevant to the literature on mental well-being because religiosity is presumed to be associated with subjective well-being and euthymia, which contaminate any nonblinded or self-rated reports. The degree of association between religiosity and mental well-being is dependent upon the domain of mental well-being being measured. For example, in a comprehensive meta-analysis of religiosity and mental health by Hackney and Sanders (2003), religious devotion was found to be more strongly associated with “existential well-being” than with actual low levels of distress. This is also consistent with stereotype fulfillment, as the more objectively defined presence of disorder or pathology is less related toreligiosity than the more subjectively defined and stereotypic measure of self-actualization. In sum, the same processes that are associated with elevated social desirability in the religious are involved in the assessed relationship between religiosity and Agreeableness–Conscientiousness.
Contextual Effects
Another indication that ratings of personality are contaminated by religious stereotype association rather than veridical reflections of actual prosociality is that the association between religion andprosociality is influenced by prevailing cultural and stereotypic environment. There is evidence that rather than a universal association with prosocial effects, religiosity shows prosocial effects as a function of its normative predominance in the particular culture, consistent with a stereotypic effect. For example, Sasaki and Kim (2011) found that religious priming increased self-control for European Americans but not Asian Americans, indicating that religion’s effect on self-control is based on cultural stereotypes about how religion ought to function, rather than constituting a general or intrinsic property (contra McCullough & Willoughby, 2009). In the same way that the association between prosocial phenomena (such as social desirability, life satisfaction, happiness, or church attendance) and religiosity is greater in more religious contexts such as the United States, relative to less religious contexts, such as the United Kingdom and northern Europe (Brenner, 2011a, 2011b; Diener et al., 2011; Eichhorn, 2011; Sabatier, Mayer, Friedlmeier, Lubiewska, & Trommsdorff, 2011; Sedikides & Gebauer, 2010), the strength of association between religiosity and Agreeableness is greater in the United States than it is in Europe (Saroglou, 2010). In the United States, when participants are asked to form impressions of personal characteristics based only on photographs of faces, smiling faces were judged to be more religious than nonsmiling faces (Naumann, Vazire, Rentfrow, & Gosling, 2009). However, in the United Kingdom (where religiosity is less normative), the opposite was true (Highfield, Wiseman, & Jenkins, 2009). These findings indicate that religiosity in the United States has a stronger association with the prosocial stereotype than it does in the more irreligious societies in Europe, and this cultural association contaminates the process of impression formation. Conversely, contexts in which nonreligiosity is more normative are associated with lower endorsement of the religious prosociality stereotype (Gervais, 2011). This is consistent with the hypothesis of religious prosociality as stereotype fulfillment and social desirability. This effect may also reflect a phenomenon that more socially integrated or better adjusted people might, in highly religious societies, be more likely to enjoy the ancillary social benefits of religious institutions (Lavricˇ & Flere, 2008), whereas in less religious cultures, religiosity is unrelated, or even negatively related to well-being and social support (Diener et al., 2011). A nearly identical effect was identified by Gebauer, Sedikides, and Neberich (2012), who found that psychological adjustment was higher for believers only in countries that valued religiosity but did not differ from nonbelievers in countries that did not value religiosity. In his meta-analysis, Saroglou (2010) acknowledged that “religiousness is best predicted by the interaction between personality traits and contextual factors” (p. 116). These factors include the cultural milieu in which the associations are assessed.
As with personality research, the apparent relationship between religiosity and well-being is affected by the broader cultural or regional context in which a given study is conducted. The relationship between happiness and religiosity is essentially zero in irreligious countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands (Snoep, 2008). Similarly, Canadian students from a nonreligious background did not differ in mental adjustment from religious students (Hunsberger, Pratt, & Pancer, 2001). Some studies have found the religiosity/well-being association entirely reversed as a function of culture, such as Zhang and Jin (1996), who found depression and suicidality to be negatively correlated with religiosity in American college students but positively correlated in Chinese students. A higher level of life satisfaction is associated with personal religiosity only in societies in which average religiosity is greater (Eichhorn, 2011). These findings suggest that the mechanism linking religiosity and well-being is affected by factors such as conformity to the majority religious status in the particular context.
Given that the majority of studies have been conducted in the religiously normative context of the United States, more information is needed regarding whether prosociality is as strongly associated with religiosity in less religiously normative contexts or whether the content of the stereotype differs as a function of culture.
Definitional Issues: Belonging, Not Belief
The religious prosociality literature has included a range of conceptual definitions of religiosity. It is widely acknowledged that the construct of religion involves multiple dimensions, including cognitive, affective, and behavioral components (Saroglou, 2011). Social scientists have often employed the alliterative phrase “belief, belonging, and behavior” to conceptualize the most relevant and important components of the phenomenon. Studies have employed different methods of measurement in these various domains (Hill & Hood, 1999). For example, religious belief—cognitive conviction regarding metaphysical entities— has been measured in terms of personal importance or strength of conviction (i.e., intrinsic religiosity). Other methods of assessment have used group denominational affiliation (belonging) or attendance and involvement (behavior) at services or rituals. Although these domains have substantial overlap, there can be a range of intensity or commitment among religious believers. For example, despite high levels of nominal belief, actual weekly religious attendance in the United States is somewhere in the 30%–40% range, depending on the survey method (Brenner, 2011a, 2011b). Also, the association between indices may be stronger at the high end of the religiosity continuum than at the low end or may vary due to moderators (Gorsuch, 1984).
Due to recent trends of decreased religious affiliation in the United States and Europe, the disjunction between belief and belonging appears to be increasing, resulting, for example, in more  “unchurched believers” (Halman & Draulans, 2006; Hout & Fischer, 2002; Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2008). This may be particularly true in groups with a communal or ethnic identity (e.g., secular Jews, cultural Irish Catholics, Swedish Lutherans) who may “belong without believing” or in more religiously heterogeneous contexts such as in Europe where there may be relatively more “believing without belonging” (Davie, 1990).
The latter pattern may also characterize those with religious beliefs who may be disaffected with formal religious group affiliation (Hout & Fischer, 2002). Although 15% of those in the United States self-identify their religion as “none” (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2008), only 6% say they believe either there is no God or there is no way to know, indicating that the majority of “none” are, in fact, religious “believers but not belongers” and are merely denominationally unaffiliated. Equally important, some individuals have strong secular convictions and high levels of social engagement but have no religious belief; in effect “belonging and behaving without believing” (Hunsberger & Altemeyer, 2006; Saroglou, 2011; Zuckerman, 2008). Taken together these patterns indicate that although studies of religiosity typically have employed conceptually related measures, caution must be observed when presuming that religious belief content is the causal mechanism of prosociality and that relationships with religiosity are equivalent across the entire range of that construct.
Separating belief from factors relating to group participation is crucial in the religious prosociality literature because the religious variable often most robustly related to prosocial behavior is belonging— social and group engagement—not personal conviction or metaphysical beliefs, although this distinction is often elided in coverage of the “effect of religion” on prosociality. In the studies of charitable giving and volunteering mentioned earlier, church attendance or social factors in religious organizations are typically stronger predictors of these forms of prosociality than is personal devotion (Brooks, 2006; Monsma, 2007). For example, Reitsma et al. (2006) demonstrated that church attendance was predictive of charitable intentions, whereas other religious variables (frequency of prayer, religious experiences) were nonsignificant. In another example, Gallup survey results (B. G. Smith & Stark, 2009) indicated that the differences in generosity when measured as a function of religious importance were smaller than those measured as variation in religious attendance. There are several mechanisms that have been suggested to account for these group attendance effects on giving and volunteering, none of which are necessarily dependent on religious belief. One may be that religious groups offer structure to giving (e.g., tithing, offerings, pledging) such that planned prosocial activity is easier. As mentioned earlier, religiosity is associated with planned rather than spontaneous helping.
There is evidence that religiously motivated empathic concern may require church attendance to mediate the relationship with actual generous giving (Bekkers, 2006). Religious groups or settings may increase the ease of social networking (Putnam, 2000) and include contextual factors such as a greater likelihood of being asked for donations or greater social pressure to conform to group standards (Bekkers & Schuyt, 2008; Campbell & Yonish, 2003).
Distinguishing the effects of religious behavior from beliefs is relevant to the present critique because it appears that even those without religious belief, such as unaffiliated or secular individuals who report attendance at religious events, report more prosocial behaviors. Putnam and Campbell (2010) found numerous associations across multiple measures demonstrating the “good neighborliness” of “religiously engaged believers.” However, when controlling for frequency of church attendance, the authors found that “religious beliefs . . . turn out to be utterly irrelevant to explaining the religious edge in good neighborliness” (p. 465).
Rather, Putnam and Campbell found that it was the religiously based social network that predicted prosociality, such that “even an atheist who happened to become involved in the social life of a congregation . . . is much more likely to volunteer in a soup kitchen than the most fervent believer who prays alone” (pp. 472–473). If church attendance is more related to generosity than are religious beliefs, and if even secular individuals who happen to attend church tend to report more generous behavior, then the effect is more aptly described as a “general group involvement” than a “religious prosociality” effect. Despite the lesser relevance of belief when the primary association between group socialization effects and prosociality (belonging) is taken into account, this complexity is often lost in the transmission of the findings. Putnam and Campbell’s own summary phrasing (e.g., “Religious Americans Are Better Neighbors”) lends the impression that the belief or content component of religion (or simply religion itself) is the efficacious component of prosociality.
As with charitable giving, perhaps the most influential mediational mechanism between religiosity and psychological wellbeing is greater social integration via belonging to a group of like-minded individuals. Having a strong religious social identity has been found to mediate the association between attendance at religious services and psychological well-being (Greenfield & Marks, 2007). There is evidence that, separate from church attendance itself, church social ties and activities are the components most associated with prosocial engagement outside the church itself and into the broader secular community (Beyerlein & Hipp, 2006; Jackson, Bachmeier, Wood, & Craft, 1995). Frequent churchgoers report larger social networks, greater contact with network members, and a higher degree of social support than nonchurchgoers (Ellison & George, 1994), and in this study, each of these social factors is also significantly related to mental wellbeing.
In a meta-analysis based on over 100 studies of religiosity and depression, T. B. Smith et al. (2003) found a modest, but significant, overall effect (0.096) between the two domains. However, the association between depression and religiosity as defined by church attendance was greater (0.124) than that for religiosity as defined by beliefs (0.053). Strong within-group social contacts formed by shared activities (not merely religious belief) have been found to account for most, if not all, of the relationships between religiosity and mental well-being variables such as life satisfaction (Lim & Putnam, 2010). Because the relationships of prosociality and well-being to religiosity often appear to differ, depending on whether the latter domain is conceptualized as subjective belief as opposed to organized social behavior, this raises important questions regarding the actual mechanisms of effect.
Group Comparison and Criterion Contamination
A methodological problem present in the majority of the religious prosociality literature thus pertains to the comparison group used to test the hypothesis that religious belief itself is the primary causal factor. This problem is present in studies regarding religious prosociality in domains ranging from charitable giving to mental well-being. In the typical study, participants with high levels of religiosity are compared to those with low religiosity, yet the language framing the conclusion often implies that a contrast was made with the complete absence of religiosity. For example, Koole et al. (2010) stated that “religious individuals on average display higher levels of emotional well-being compared to nonreligious [emphasis added] individuals” (p. 95) and “religious individuals generally display fewer ruminative positive thoughts, lower levels of inner conflict, and higher levels of positive emotion compared to nonreligious [emphasis added] individuals” (p. 95). However, in this example, two of the three studies cited for this statement (Neyrinck, Vansteenkiste, Lens, Duriez, & Hutsebaut, 2006; Ryan, Rigby, & King, 1993) consisted of samples that included only religious individuals (i.e., self-identified Christians, Catholic or Protestant students from Christian colleges, and church members).
None of the participants in these studies were nonreligious. In the third study cited for that statement, the meta-analysis of religion and depression (T. B. Smith et al., 2003), approximately one fifth of the studies specifically excluded nonreligious individuals, sampling instead from churches or religious groups.
Also, in the broader literature, it is well founded that that highly religious people generally report more charity and volunteering (Pelham & Crabtree, 2008), or greater subjective well-being and life satisfaction than less religious individuals (Hackney & Sanders, 2003; Koenig & Larson, 2001). But the majority of this literature consists of comparisons between highly religious individuals and weakly or nominally religious individuals. The previously mentioned study on forgiveness by McCullough and Worthington (1999), for example, compares more and less religious individuals. There is a distinction, however, between weak or unsure belief and complete nonbelief, which is one reason why comparisons such as median splits dividing religiosity into high and low groups are inappropriate to test religious effects (Gorsuch, 1984). For example, one common use of the intrinsic religiosity scale and its counterpart the extrinsic scale (e.g., religion used for personal or social advantages) is to designate those who are above or below the median on both scales as “indiscriminately proreligious” or “antireligious,” respectively. But some studies have found that a majority of those below the midpoint are still theistic believers and are not in any sense antireligious or even nonreligious (Richards, 1991). Therefore, any study using such categorizations cannot properly describe results as representing a difference between the presence and absence of religious belief. Rather, they represent comparisons in strength of belief. Most of those at the low end of the religiosity continuum, such as the unaffiliated, do not self-identify as completely nonreligious (atheists or agnostics), but rather are religious-but-unaffiliated, a group consisting of those unwilling to join a church or who are indifferent believers (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2008). However, surveys also indicate that atheists and agnostics are markedly different from the unaffiliated on a wide range of important demographic variables (higher proportion of males, higher education level) as well as in religious knowledge (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2010). In fact, differences between the nonaffiliated and the religious in prosocial domains are often found to be spurious when controlling for demographics (Reitsma et al., 2006). For example, controlling for the greater proportion of women in religious groups (who are more likely to be religious as well as to volunteer) diminishes or eliminates the relationship between religious denomination and volunteering (Manning, 2010). Therefore, using the mere absence of religious affiliation (i.e., “none”) as a grouping category confounds complete nonbelievers together with the unsure; these groups differ substantially on factors having nothing to do with religious belief.
Similarly, when using religious attendance, what is likely being measured in a comparison between the religiously active and nonattenders is not belief itself, but rather characteristics such as the ability to conscientiously commit to groups, the desire for social integration, social support, life stability, and other similar characteristics. Because religious belonging and behavior are not always equivalent to belief, it is equally problematic to use behavioral or participatory measures such as infrequent church attendance to represent the complete absence of religious belief. For example, Bloodgood, Turnley, and Mudrack (2008) found less cheating behavior in “relatively high” compared to “relatively low” church attenders. This is often presented as an effect of religious belief itself, such as existential comfort, faith, or hope.
But again, “never-attender” is not equivalent to “irreligious.” The majority of the personality and religiosity literature is also marked by inappropriate group comparisons that confound religious group membership with belief. Much of the religious prosociality work has suggested that since religious individuals have greater Agreeableness and Conscientiousness than those low in religiosity, religious belief itself is connected to these traits. However, again, strongly religious church attenders are often compared to the predominantly weakly religious nonattenders. For example, A. Taylor and MacDonald (1999) found that Conscientiousness distinguished the religiously “involved” from the “not involved,” which is perhaps not surprising given its association with dutifulness and diligence. But once demographic differences (sex, age, socioeconomic status) are controlled, there is frequently little difference found between church members and secular group members in personality as a function of religious belief itself (Galen & Kloet, 2011b).
Interestingly, Myers (2008) made a point in addressing the evidence of nonprosocial behavior among the religious (e.g., higher divorce rate and higher prejudice among members of conservative religious denominations) by correctly noting the distinction between being nominally religious and religiously active (the former defined by infrequent, and the latter defined by regular, church attendance). Obviously, if the distinction between mere denominational membership and devout religious activity or confident belief is valid on the religious end of the spectrum, this distinction should also be made at the nonreligious end of the spectrum. Similarly, the previously mentioned meta-analysis of religiosity and depression by T. B. Smith et al. (2003) contains studies representative of much of the literature in the area of religiosity and mental health. Although the meta-analysis found an inverse relationship between “religiousness” and depression, a majority of the studies included in the meta-analysis either specifically excluded nonreligious individuals or the analyses did not permit a distinction between completely nonreligious individuals and religious individuals and infrequent church attendance or uncertain beliefs. A more accurate description of the findings would be “committed or devout religious individuals tend to have lower incidence of depression than uncommitted or uninvolved religious individuals.” By defining low religiosity as low levels of belief or commitment or the absence of group attendance, one is virtually certain to find lower levels of well-being and prosocial commitment in this group relative to frequent group attenders or the religiously involved. However, despite such findings having been discussed in terms of religious belief (or similar constructs such as “faith” and “spirituality”) rather than the effect of social group integration, there is often not sufficient evidence to indicate that religious belief is the efficacious component. In studies that posit religious belief as the causal mechanism, the appropriate comparison for confident religious believers who are group members should be confidently nonreligious individuals who are members of a nonreligious or secular group, not those who are indifferent or who attend church infrequently.
A comparison of frequent church attenders with the unaffiliated represented as a distinction in religious belief is essentially tantamount
to contamination of the predicted prosociality with the predictor, social commitment. This is, in effect, hypothesizing that those who are socially engaged, as evidenced by their religious group behaviors, will be socially engaged in other ways as well.
Stating the hypothesis in this manner is, if not particularly surprising, also not necessarily problematic in itself. This methodological
problem can also be observed in many studies that use measures of spirituality, such as the Spiritual Transcendence Scale (Piedmont,
1999), which, in addition to a Prayer Fulfillment scale, contains Universality (“I believe there is a larger meaning to life”; “I feel an emotional bond to all humanity”) and Connectedness (“It is important for me to give something back to my community”; “I believe that humanity as a whole is basically good”; “I am concerned about those who will come after me in life”). In another spirituality measure, the majority of items make no reference to nonmaterial concepts, but rather constructs such as mindfulness, meaning, and security (Hardt, Schultz, Xander, Becker, & Dragan, 2012). One problem is that such measures do not measure spirituality in a metaphysical sense that would necessarily distinguish a prosocial religious believer from a prosocial agnostic or atheist (Koenig, 2008). But more related to the present point, if the measure is used, as has been the practice, to predict prosocial outcomes such as social helpfulness or mental well-being, there would clearly be an inflated relationship due to criterion contamination, and the design would be unable to address the issue of whether religious belief itself is related to prosocial outcomes in a way that nonreligious belief is not. For example, Murphy et al. (2000) measured religious belief with the Religious Well-Being Scale (Paloutzian & Ellison, 1982), which contains items such as “I believe that God is concerned about my problems” to predict depression and hopelessness. Clearly, this does not address merely whether religious belief is associated with lower depression but rather whether “nondepressed religious people are not depressed.”
In their meta-analysis of religiosity and mental health, Hackney and Sanders (2003) noted that the relationship found between the two domains may have been due to semantic and conceptual overlap such that personal devotion as a category of religiosity contains within it ideas such as commitment to a worldview and the utilization of that worldview as the individual’s source of meaning and value. . . . This overlap could be one explanation for the strong relationship found between personal religious devotion and self-actualization. (p. 53) In another example, Mahoney et al. (1999) used measures of “sanctification” of marriage (e.g., viewing one’s marriage as having sacred qualities) and “manifestations of God” (e.g., “My marriage is influenced by God’s actions in our lives”) to predict marital conflict. This study found that although these measures were robust predictors of marital adjustment, the individual religious beliefs of the partners were essentially unrelated to adjustment.
Again, using predictors such as religious sanctification that blur with the predicted criterion of marital adjustment is not itself inherently problematic if the implications are discussed in a narrow and accurate manner. But such results are often described as implicating religious belief itself. In this case, for example, Rossano (2008) cited Mahoney et al. as implying that “religious couples communicate more effectively and use better conflict resolution strategies compared to nonreligious couples” (p. 182), when in fact religious belief was unrelated to the criterion. Therefore, measures of religiosity (as with religious groups) should be selected such that they contain belief content (or believers) in a manner that is distinct from the prosociality that they are being used to predict.
Curvilinear Relationships
As mentioned above, although they are often combined together, the less religious or nominally religious individuals are distinct from the completely nonreligious in many ways. But studies using only linear measures such as correlation coefficient, regression, or a median split are not able to distinguish between the two groups. Interestingly, studies of prosociality that have used the full continuum of religiosity have frequently found curvilinear effects in which the confidently nonreligious resemble the confidently religious. The domains often involve situations in which prosocial behaviors are facilitated by strong conviction, selfcontrol, and nonconformity. For example, Bock and Warren’s (1972) replication of the Milgram obedience paradigm trichotomized participants into “extreme nonbelievers,” “moderates,” and “extreme believers.” Results indicated that both ends of the religious continuum disobeyed (i.e., gave lower shock), whereas the moderates displayed the highest level of obedience (i.e., greatest level of shock administered). These authors reasoned that the extremes of religiosity consisted of persons having arrived at strong commitments consistent with moral conscience, whereas the moderates were more conforming and thus more likely to obey the experimenter. Other self-control behaviors that have exhibited a curvilinear pattern with religiosity include personal health behavior such as favorable health perceptions and low body mass, with the highly religious and nonreligious scoring similarly (Masters & Knestel, 2011). Nonlinear or curvilinear effects are often
seen in the domain of altruism and helping. In Oliner and Oliner’s (1988) study of rescuers of Jews during World War II, the proportion
of rescuers to nonrescuers was greater among both the highly religious and the completely nonreligious, with the nonrescuers predominating in the moderately religious. Similarly, physicians’ likelihood of practicing among the underserved exhibits a curvilinear relationship with intrinsic religiosity (Curlin, Dugdale, Lantos, & Chin, 2007). Nonlinear relationships between religiosity and personality are often found (Jorm & Christensen, 2004) such that strongly secular individuals are equivalent in Conscientiousness to strongly religious individuals (Galen & Kloet, 2011b).
Although a focus on the religious belief component of the religious prosociality model predicts that any level of religiosity is more beneficial to prosociality than the absence of religiosity, this does not appear to be the case.
As has been shown in different domains, religiosity involves a large element of social conformity and ingroup favoritism. Therefore, in situations wherein the norms are nonprosocial (e.g., prejudice, denying assistance to a nonnormative or value-violating target), having only a moderate level of religiosity is likely associated with a negative type of conformity. Those less affected by obedience to social norms, whether very religious or completely nonreligious, are likely to act according to personal conscience.
For example, civil rights protesters in the 1960s consisted of a mixture of highly religious and completely nonreligious or secularly motivated individuals; many mainstream religious denominations were indifferent or hostile to civil rights (Rokeach, 1969).
Unfortunately, given that so few studies actually differentiate completely nonreligious individuals from the nominally religious, it is likely that other curvilinear relationships between religiosity and prosociality remain undetected. Additionally, given the recent growth in the “nones”—those declaring no religious affiliation (Kosmin & Keysar, 2008)—studies that fail to distinguish at the low end of the religiosity continuum will become increasingly less valid and useful.
Little effort has been made to assess curvilinear relationships in the voluminous literature on religion and mental well-being/mental illness. However, the studies in the mental health literature that have actually distinguished between the completely nonreligious and weakly religious have often detected curvilinear patterns. The highest levels of mental distress are typically found in the weakly religious, whereas the highly religious as well as the nonreligious tend to be the least distressed (Eliassen, Taylor, & Lloyd, 2005; Ross, 1990). In one study of older adults, although the religious had a greater number of social supports relative to atheists and agnostics, life satisfaction was equivalent between these groups (Horning, Hasker, Stirrat, & Cornwell, 2011). Similarly, another study of elderly individuals found that the strongly nonreligious had equivalent coping with negative stressors to the strongly religious, indicating that the strength of the belief system was more relevant than the religious content (Wilkinson & Coleman, 2010).
If religious belief itself was the central mechanism of well-being, one would expect that even lukewarm believers would have greater mental well-being than the complete nonbelievers or atheists, but this is not the case; the highest rates of depression or distress are in nominal believers, not atheists (Buggle, Bister, Nohe, Schneider, & Uhmann, 2000; Riley, Best, & Charlton, 2005; Shaver, Lenauer, & Sadd, 1980). Similarly, in regard to affiliation, when religiously affiliated individuals are compared to nonreligious or secularly affiliated individuals (i.e., both being instances of confident believers who are affiliated with like-minded groups), there are no differences in mental well-being. Rather, it is the unsure or nominal believers who have the poorest mental health (Galen & Kloet, 2011a; Meltzer, Dogra, Vostanis, & Ford, 2011; Mochon, Norton, & Ariely, 2011). The World Values Survey, which consists of data from 50 nations, also demonstrates a curvilinear effect such that those for whom religion is either “very important” or “not at all important” indicate a greater level of happiness than those for whom religion is “rather important” and “not very important” (Rees, 2009). Therefore, in order to appropriately test for nonlinear effects, studies should include the abilities to separate these groups and utilize analyses of curvilinear effects rather than overall correlations.
Finally, even when curvilinear effects are detected, the problems posed by the effects for the religious prosociality hypothesis in regard to mental well-being are often downplayed. For example, a poll commissioned by Gallup-Healthways (Newport, Agrawal, & Witters, 2010) found curvilinear effects for a range of mental health measures as a function of religiosity. The authors even suggested that ambivalence or lack of commitment regarding religious views in the moderately religious groups may have had an adverse effect relative to the committed very religious and nonreligious. However, the report (entitled “Very Religious Americans Report Less Depression, Worry”) nonetheless stated, “The best explanation for the observed relationship between religion and more positive states of emotional health may be the most straightforward— that being religious in fact produces a salutary effect on one’s mental health” (“Implications,” para. 2). This is representative of the literature in that, though partially accurate, the title and description give the impression that religiosity itself is responsible for better mental well-being, while downplaying the curvilinear effect that the moderately religious were the most depressed, and the more nuanced explanation that it entails.
There is sufficient evidence of curvilinear effects that any adequate test of religious influence on personality or well-being should include measures allowing for the distinction between nominal, indifferent, and uninvolved religious believers from completely secular nonbelievers.
Nonprosocial Effects: The Negative Influence of Religious Prosocial Stereotype
As mentioned previously, there is evidence that religiosity can
lead to a certain level of self-enhancement via endorsement of the
religious prosociality stereotype, greater socially desirable responding,
and a disjunction between self-reports of prosociality
and actual behavioral effects. There is also evidence of ingroup
favoritism demonstrated in both controlled studies and naturalistic
ones, and that this is particularly true of religiosity as conceptualized
by fundamentalism and authoritarianism. Taken together, this
implies not only that religiosity can play a role in greater selfdeception
regarding prosocial behaviors but also a lack of full
recognition of negative behaviors. For example, in the domain of
prejudice, Batson, Flink, Schoenrade, Fultz, and Pych (1986) demonstrated
that the intrinsically religious were reluctant to appear to
behave in an overtly racially prejudiced manner, but this relationship
disappeared when the prejudice could be masked in a covert
way. The nontraditionally religious, high-quest individuals did not
show this overt– covert distinction and behaved in a nonprejudiced
way regardless of self-presentation concerns. Batson, Floyd,
Meyer, and Winner’s (1999) work regarding prejudice toward
homosexuals also suggested that high intrinsically religious individuals
are partially unaware of their own prejudice. A comparison
of experimental conditions indicated that high intrinsics helped
homosexual individuals less relative to a control condition, yet
made an erroneous appeal to “fairness” as a reason for their lower
assistance rather than a moral objection to sexuality. Similarly,
high fundamentalists have been found to be willing to help friends
or like-minded individuals but not unknown people or those with
different values; however, they perceive themselves as being universally
altruistic (Blogowska & Saroglou, 2011). Such results
indicate that greater religiosity appears to be associated with a
greater bias in the lack of self-perception of nonprosociality.
Likewise, in the domain of retributive aggression, self-reported
intrinsic religiosity predicts lower self-reported vengeance attitudes
(i.e., the more religious report that they are less vengeful in
general) but does not predict actual retaliatory behavior (Greer,
Berman, Varan, Bobrycki, & Watson, 2005). In contrast, Greer et
al. (2005) found that those high on a measure of nontraditional
quest religiosity did not self-report as particularly “nonvengeful,”
but they actually had lower behavioral vengefulness retaliation. In
a nearly identical result, Leach et al. (2008) found that although
intrinsic religiosity was associated with lower self-reported aggression,
the behavioral measure (retaliatory aggression via shock)
indicated no relationship between intrinsic religiosity and actual
shock delivered. These results are consistent with other research
indicating that some measures of religiosity (e.g., biblical literalism)
predict greater acceptance of vengefulness (Cota-McKinley,
Woody, & Bell, 2001). The evidence reviewed up to this point
suggests several mechanisms that may explain why religiosity
contributes to the labeling of behavior as prosocial, even in cases
where the effects may be negative.
One reason is that a religiously based stereotype defense may
lead to the rationalization of gaps between explicit self-reports and
actual behaviors, such as a need to seek reasons to justify nonprosociality.
For example, Tsang, McCullough, and Hoyt (2005)
suggested that those with little benevolence toward a transgressor
were less likely to endorse a concept of God as forgiving, whereas
those motivated by benevolence showed the opposite pattern.
These results are consistent with a rationalization process such that
initially forgiving or vengeful motives are then justified by religious
values (e.g., aligning with forgiving or retributive God
concepts, respectively). Thus, religiosity may inoculate individuals
who act vindictively by allowing them to maintain a selfperception
of morality and bring their beliefs into alignment with
their behavior rather than vice versa.
Thus, not only does the presence of a religious prosociality
stereotype act as an impediment to accurate assessment of one’s
actual likelihood of prosocial behavior, it may exacerbate moral
lapses because any disjunction is minimized or rationalized. For
example, Garos, Beggan, and Kluck (2004) found that greater
religious commitment was associated with a “temptation bias”
(i.e., a predicted ability that one can resist temptation better than
others), particularly in sexual domains. Although such a belief may
enhance self-esteem, it is problematic regarding the actual ability
to detect moral contradiction or hypocrisy. Individuals with a
greater restraint bias—the tendency to overestimate one’s capacity
for impulse control— overexpose themselves to temptation,
thereby promoting impulsive behavior (Nordgren, van Harreveld,
& van der Pligt, 2009). For example, this can be observed in such
issues as religiously based abstinence pledges for sexual behavior,
in which the vast majority of pledgers will nonetheless have
premarital intercourse, but more worryingly, have increased risk
for unprotected sex due to lack of planning for actual sexual
behavior. If religiosity leads to a sense of moral imperviousness (“I
will act morally because I am religious”), this is likely to have
greater negative consequences than if the individual did not assume
that religiosity would yield any moral benefits. Thus, Koole
et al. (2010) are correct that “practicing religious principles in a
part-time or compartmentalized manner violates the basic principles
of most religions” (p. 97). However, contrary to these authors’
supposition that the content of religion would promote more selfregulation,
there is evidence that religion may actually promote
compartmentalization in part through a focus on stereotypic content
or transcendent intentions rather than on reasoning regarding
the actual moral effect of the behavior.
The religious prosociality hypothesis focuses on religious content
as the causal mechanism, suggesting that religious precepts
provide moral guidance. For example, Baumeister et al. (2010)
argued that encouragement of the resistance to temptation, as
exemplified in the Ten Commandments, enhances self-control to
do what is good for the collective society. However the evidence
suggests that broad moral precepts result in little actual behavioral
change or are as likely to result in a rationalization of negative
action as in a prosocial action. Further, having a moral identity
based on the stereotypical religion–prosocial association is not
necessarily as helpful as possessing actual moral judgment in a
given situation. Those who view themselves as moral individuals
tend to pursue more moral extremes (e.g., either never cheating or
regularly cheating; Reynolds & Ceranic, 2007). Although previous
work has implied that having a moral self-identity is beneficial
because it provides a motivation to engage in socially desirable
outcomes, in actuality, without specific guidance or consensus as
to a moral course of action in a given situation, moral identity can
lead to socially undesirable behaviors. This is likely a relevant
mechanism for many of the findings regarding moral domains such
as prejudice and helping behavior in which religiosity has been
found to have little relationship, or even negative effects.
Although both positive secular and positive religious priming
appear to activate associations with prosocial behavior, there are
indications that the effect of activating a religiously prosocial
influence, such as a divine sanction, may be more problematic than
an equivalent secular sanction. McCullough and Willoughby
(2009) suggested that religion improves self-regulation in part via
the sanctification of goals. That is, they suggested that consulting
one’s religious scriptures or teachings can enhance compliance
with social norms because religious prosociality is perceived as
emanating from a sacred source. However, the priming literature
shows that this is, at best, a double-edged sword because both
positive and negative goals can be sanctified. As Bushman et al.
(2007) demonstrated, activation of sanctification can have a negative
effect when the prevailing religious norm is not prosocial or
the target group violates religious values, or is merely a religious
outgroup. In a different example, Burris and Jackson (1999) found
that the more religious a participant was, the more the participant
sympathized with a target victim in a depiction of partner abuse,
but only when the victim affirmed his or her religious values.
Participants higher in religiosity actually rated the perpetrator of
the partner abuse as relatively more likable when the recipient of
the abuse was a religious value violator. In other words, activation
of religious ingroup identity influences moral judgment, but this
effect is not necessarily prosocial. Tamarin’s classic 1966 study
also demonstrated that individuals evaluate violent actions differently
depending on shared religious identity. Israeli schoolchildren
viewed the biblical Joshua’s violent actions in Jericho as justified,
but when the identical actions were decontextualized into a different
religious identity, they disapproved of them. Therefore, the
antisocial outcomes in these cases are potentiated, not impeded, by
religious particularism.
The dual nature of the priming findings suggests that religiously
motivated prosociality is more likely to be affected by ingroup
favoritism than nonreligiously motivated or recipient-motivated
helping. Activating or priming a religious frame in order to enhance
prosociality is as likely to potentiate particularism as it is to
activate any general humanitarianism. As seen in studies such as
Bushman et al. (2007) or Saroglou et al. (2009), religiosity may
have an activating effect on submissive or conformist attitudes.
One implication of this also seen in other areas of the literature is
that relying on compliance or conformity with sanctified external
norms in order to promote prosocial behavior is often antithetical
to the development of more sophisticated moral reasoning. The
most religiously conforming individuals (e.g., conservatives, fundamentalists)
have lower scores on tests of moral reasoning, reflecting
conventional stage morality according to Kohlberg’s system
(Cottone, Drucker, & Javier, 2007; Getz, 1984; Narvaez, Getz,
Rest, & Thoma, 1999). That is, they make moral decisions on the
basis of authority or rules rather than attempting to delineate
underlying principles. For example, intrinsic religiosity has been
found to be unrelated or even inversely related to principled moral
reasoning (Sapp & Jones, 1986). This is relevant because moral
reasoning itself is more predictive of prosocial behavior than is
religiosity (Maclean, Walker, & Matsuba, 2004). More importantly
though, situations requiring prosocial actions are often
vague and not amenable to general rules, but rather require reasoning
from principles. The factors most predictive of real-world
altruistic helping include high levels of abstract moral reasoning,
high internal conviction (i.e., low conformity), victim empathy,
and social responsibility (Midlarsky, Jones, & Corley, 2005).
Another way that the activation and perpetuation of a religious
prosocial stereotype may in fact be counterproductive is via the
process of “moral licensing.” Research suggests that engagement
in virtuous activities that help establish a prosocial self-concept
subsequently liberates the person to make self-indulgent choices
(Merritt, Effron, & Monin, 2010). For example, charitable donations
can establish a prosocial self-concept (e.g., “I am a helpful
person”), but can subsequently increase the chances of an indulgent
consumer choice (e.g., purchase designer jeans) without any
decrease in positive self-attributions (Khan & Dhar, 2006). Priming
people with positive traits that increase moral self-concept can
actually decrease prosocial behavior through moral licensing (Sachdeva,
Iliev, & Medin, 2009). These “moral credentials” can also
be vicariously gained. Beliefs regarding past moral behavior (i.e.,
behaving without prejudice) performed by members of one’s
group can lead to decreased prosociality such as individual prejudicial
behavior (Kouchaki, 2011). In this way, activating a stereotype
of religious prosociality may lead to nonprosocial behavior.
When concepts of previous religious prosociality are primed,
this increases the moral self-concept of those with strong religious
ingroup allegiance, liberating them to engage in morally inconsistent
or questionable behavior. Therefore, licensing research shows
that activation of a religious prosocial self-concept can actually
allow individuals to act in ways that are antithetical to prosociality
but without the accompanying sense of moral hypocrisy.
Finally, relying on religiously sanctified prosocial motivations
can shift individuals’ focus onto a transcendent goal (i.e., personal
salvation) rather than on empathy for the target in need (Rokeach,
1969). However, because a religious actor may perceive his or her
attitudes or actions as religiously sanctified, this discrepancy is not
noticed. As is the case with the self-report versus behavior gap, an
endorsement of the religion–morality stereotype may result in
self-reports that are biased and at odds with actual behavior. Taken
together with the priming literature, it is likely that activating a
religious frame may induce individuals to believe their actions are
sanctified, and thus justified because they focus on the motivation
or intention (i.e., religious) rather than the behavior itself. That is,
it is precisely because religious actions are considered sanctified
that may explain why there is a disjunction between religious
intention and behavioral outcome. For example, Blogowska and
Saroglou (2011) found that it was specifically the high levels of
religiosity present in high fundamentalists that predicted their
greater prosociality to targets who did not threaten their values but
lower prosociality to value-threatening targets.
Conclusion
The literature regarding religion and prosociality is characterized
not only by its size but also by the diversity of methods used
to assess the domains in question. These have included impression
formation studies, covert behavioral observations, economic
games, and many others. It is therefore not surprising that overall
summaries have often arrived at discrepant or contradictory conclusions.
Nevertheless, some general statements can be made.
Religious individuals self-report a higher degree of prosociality,
particularly when the latter is assessed as planned behavior, such
as charitable giving, and the targets of prosociality are familiars,
such as friends or family—so-called minimal prosociality. There is
also little question that priming or contextual reminders of religiosity
have a prosocial effect. These results have led many to
conclude that religiosity has a causal relationship to prosociality.
However, to the degree that studies assess prosociality in a nonplanned,
spontaneous context (e.g., bystander helping) and to the
degree that religious cues are not immediately relevant to the
context, particularly in the case where the target of prosociality is
not a familiar or is an outgroup member, the relationship between
religiosity and prosociality is essentially zero, or even negative.
Moreover, priming effects appear not to depend on the level of
religiosity of the individual (consistent with the activation of
general social stereotypes) and can include nonprosocial effects
such as ingroup bias. However, effects can offer differ substantially
based on what type of religiosity is the focus of investigation
(e.g., quest vs. fundamentalism).
The more theoretically interesting questions pertain to the reasons
why the religiosity–prosociality relationship shows these paradoxical
characteristics, such as a self-report versus behavioral
gap. As has been shown in the present review, studies connecting
religiosity and prosociality depend heavily on self and peer ratings
of morally relevant characteristics. These are almost always contaminated
by lack of blindness to the religious status of the target
and therefore are subject to ingroup bias and cultural stereotypes of
religion–morality halo effects. Experimental studies using priming
or similar interventions to activate a religious frame must also be
heavily qualified. Often prosocial secular or equivalent stimuli
(which can activate a stereotype of prosociality equivalent to
religious priming) are not used as controls. Further, antisocial
effects such as particularism, vindictiveness, and prejudice are
activated by religious priming. Religiosity appears to be associated
with a discrepancy between self-report and behavior in prosocial
domains, likely because of social desirability or stereotypic effects.
The mental well-being and personality literatures are affected by
similar problems.
The other methodological problem that renders a clear interpretation
of results difficult involves improper group comparisons and
the absence of controls for group or social effects. Strongly religious
individuals or those with high religious group attendance are
frequently compared with weakly religious individuals or those
with little or no affiliation. Findings resulting from these comparisons
are not valid assessments of whether religiosity itself is a
unique causal influence in prosociality. As Graham and Haidt
(2010) pointed out in their review, the hypotheses that “religious
people are happier than nonreligious people” and “religious people
give more to charity” are often based on effects that are reducible
to the ingroup binding effects of religious communities or social
networks. However, in benign social contexts, individuals experience
social support independent of religiosity (Diener et al., 2011).
Therefore, the prosocial effects presumed to come from religiosity
are not sui generis and are present in any closely bound community,
such as those that exist in which group formation has a
secular basis. Given the unprecedented growth of the religiously
unaffiliated in both Europe and, more recently, the United States,
it is increasingly necessary for research to focus on these individuals,
whose numbers were previously quite small even a decade
ago.
A set of general criteria is needed to properly evaluate whether
religious belief itself has a causal role in prosocial behavior.
Studies that can yield the most valid conclusions on prosocially
related topics such as morality, mental health, and personality are
ones that (a) use raters blind to religious status of the target and
objective target behaviors rather than self-reports; (b) utilize the
full range of religiosity with the low end represented by the
completely nonreligious separated from the weakly or nominally
religious or the nonchurch attending; (c) test for potential curvilinear
effects (e.g., the quadratic function in regressions); (d)
cross-reference the religious identity of the participant with that of
the target in studies of helping, bystander assistance, charitable
giving, or other social behavior; and (e) take into account the
relative representativeness or majority–minority status of the participant’s
own religious identification in its relationship to the
broader cultural milieu. Only by following these controls can
characteristics such as universal helpfulness or altruism be separated
from ingroup favoritism. Studies that have been conducted
under similar conditions to these have largely found no differences
in prosocial behavior as a function of religiosity; however, the
number of studies that fully meet such criteria are relatively few.
Studies are also needed that examine the role of cultural context
and the relative normativity of religiosity in order to determine
whether stereotypical associations with prosociality are uniform
across cultures.
In his presidential address to the Society for the Scientific Study
of Religion, Chaves (2010) warned against the “congruence fallacy.”
This refers to researchers’ mistaken assumption that consistency
exists between individuals’ religious beliefs and behaviors
and that a causal connection exists between religiosity and other
phenomena despite the evidence of tenuous or situation-specific
effects. The religious prosociality hypothesis, though popular in
the literature and among the general public, is a manifestation of
such a fallacy.
References
Ahmed, A. M. (2009). Are religious people more prosocial? A quasiexperimental
study with Madrasah pupils in a rural community in India.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 48, 368–374. doi:10.1111/
j.1468-5906.2009.01452.x
Ahmed, A., & Hammarstedt, M. (2011). The effect of subtle religious
representations on cooperation. International Journal of Social Economics,
38, 900–910. doi:10.1108/03068291111171405
Ahmed, A. M., & Salas, O. (2008). In the back of your mind: Subliminal
influences of religious concepts on prosocial behavior (Working Papers
in Economics No. 331). Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and
Law, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden. Retrieved from
Ahmed, A. M., & Salas, O. (2009). Is the hand of God involved in human
cooperation? International Journal of Social Economics, 36, 70–80.
doi:10.1108/03068290910921190
Ahmed, A. M., & Salas, O. (2011a, April). The effect of religious context
on prosociality in an economic game. Paper presented at the annual
meeting of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and
Culture, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.thearda.com/
asrec/archive/papers/Ahmed_Religious_Context_Prosociality.pdf
Ahmed, A. M., & Salas, O. (2011b). Implicit influences of Christian
religious representations on dictator and prisoner’s dilemma game decisions.
Journal of Socio-Economics, 40, 242–246. doi:10.1016/
j.socec.2010.12.013
Alicke, M., & Sedikides, C. (2009). Self-enhancement and self-protection:
What they are and what they do. European Review of Social Psychology,
20, 1–48. doi:10.1080/10463280802613866
Allport, G. W., & Ross, J. M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and
prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 432–443.
doi:10.1037/h0021212
Altemeyer, B., & Hunsberger, B. (1992). Authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism,
quest, and prejudice. International Journal for the Psychology
of Religion, 2, 113–133. doi:10.1207/s15327582ijpr0202_5
American Association of Fundraising Counsel Trust for Philanthropy.
(2002). Giving USA: The annual report on philanthropy for the year
2002. New York, NY: American Association of Fundraising Counsel.
Anderson, L. R., & Mellor, J. M. (2009). Religion and cooperation in a
public goods experiment. Economics Letters, 105, 58–60. doi:10.1016/
j.econlet.2009.05.016
Anderson, L., Mellor, J., & Milyo, J. (2010). Did the devil make them do
it? The effects of religion in public goods and trust games. Kyklos, 63,
163–175. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6435.2010.00456.x
Bailey, R. C., & Doriot, P. D. (1985). Perceptions of professionals who
express religious beliefs. Social Behavior and Personality, 13, 167–170.
doi:10.2224/sbp.1985.13.2.167
Bailey, R. C., & Young, M. D. (1986). The value and vulnerability of
perceived religious involvement. Journal of Social Psychology, 126,
693–694. doi:10.1080/00224545.1986.9713648
Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (1996). Effects of impression management
and self-deception on the predictive validity of personality constructs.
Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 261–272. doi:10.1037/0021-
9010.81.3.261
Bateson, M., Nettle, D., & Roberts, G. (2006). Cues of being watched
enhance cooperation in a real-world setting. Biology Letters, 2, 412–
414. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0509
Batson, C. D. (1991). The altruism question: Toward a socialpsychological
answer. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Batson, C. D., Flink, C. H., Schoenrade, P. A., Fultz, J., & Pych, V. (1986).
Religious orientation and overt versus covert racial prejudice. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 175–181. doi:10.1037/0022-
3514.50.1.175
Batson, C. D., & Flory, J. D. (1990). Goal-relevant cognitions associated
with helping by individuals high on intrinsic, end religion. Journal for
the Scientific Study of Religion, 29, 346–360. doi:10.2307/1386463
Batson, C. D., Floyd, R. B., Meyer, J. M., & Winner, A. L. (1999). “And
who is my neighbor?” Intrinsic religion as a source of universal compassion.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 38, 445–457.
doi:10.2307/1387605
Batson, C. D., & Gray, R. A. (1981). Religious orientation and helping
behavior: Responding to one’s own or the victim’s needs? Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 511–520. doi:10.1037/0022-
3514.40.3.511
Batson, C. D., Oleson, K. C., Weeks, J. L., Healy, S. P., Reeves, P. J.,
Jennings, P., & Brown, T. (1989). Religious prosocial motivation: Is it
altruistic or egoistic? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57,
873–884. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.57.5.873
Batson, C. D., Thompson, E. R., Seuferling, G., Whitney, H., & Strongman,
J. A. (1999). Moral hypocrisy: Appearing moral to oneself without
being so. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 525–537.
doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.3.525
Baumeister, R. F., Bauer, I. M., & Lloyd, S. A. (2010). Choice, free will,
and religion. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 2, 67–82. doi:
10.1037/a0018455
Bekkers, R. (2006). Traditional and health-related philanthropy: The role
of resources and personality. Social Psychology Quarterly, 69, 349–366.
doi:10.1177/019027250606900404
Bekkers, R., & Schuyt, T. (2008). And who is your neighbor? Explaining
denominational differences in charitable giving and volunteering in the
Netherlands. Review of Religious Research, 50, 74–96.
Bekkers, R., & Wiepking, P. (2007). Generosity and philanthropy: A
literature review.” Retrieved from http://www.fss.uu.nl/soc/homes/
bekkers/generosity2.pdf
Bellemare, C., & Kröger, S. (2007). On representative social capital.
European Economic Review, 51, 183–202. doi:10.1016/j.euroecorev
.2006.03.006
Benjamin, D. J., Choi, J. J., & Fisher, G. W. (2010). Religious identity and
economic behavior (NBER Working Paper No. 15925). Cambridge,
MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Ben-Ner, A., & Halldorsson, F. (2010). Trust and trustworthiness: What
are they, how to measure them, and what affects them. Journal of
Economic Psychology, 31, 64–79. doi:10.1016/j.joep.2009.10.001
Ben-Ner, A., McCall, B. P., Stephane, M., & Wang, H. (2009). Identity and
in-group/out-group differentiation in work and giving behaviors: Experimental
evidence. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 72,
153–170. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2009.05.007
Ben-Ner, A., Putterman, L., Kong, F., & Magan, D. (2004). Reciprocity in
a two-part game. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 53,
333–352. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2002.12.001
Bering, J. M., McLeod, K., & Shackelford, T. K. (2005). Reasoning about
dead agents reveals possible adaptive trends. Human Nature, 16, 360–
381.
Beyerlein, K., & Hipp, J. R. (2006). From pews to participation: The effect
of congregation activity and context on bridging civic engagement.
Social Problems, 53, 97–117. doi:10.1525/sp.2006.53.1.97
Blogowska, J., & Saroglou, V. (2011). Religious fundamentalism and
limited prosociality as a function of the target. Journal for the Scientific
Study of Religion, 50, 44–60. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01551.x
Bloodgood, J. M., Turnley, W. H., & Mudrack, P. (2008). The influence of
ethics instruction, religiosity, and intelligence on cheating behavior.
Journal of Business Ethics, 82, 557–571. doi:10.1007/s10551-007-
9576-0
Bobkowski, P. S., & Kalyanaraman, S. (2010). Effects of online Christian
self-disclosure on impression formation. Journal for the Scientific Study
of Religion, 49, 456–476. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01522.x
Bock, D. C., & Warren, N. C. (1972). Religious belief as a factor in
obedience to destructive demands. Review of Religious Research, 13,
185–191. doi:10.2307/3510781
Brenner, P. S. (2011a). Exceptional behavior or exceptional identity?
Overreporting of church attendance in the U.S. Public Opinion Quarterly,
75, 19–41. doi:10.1093/poq/nfq068
Brenner, P. S. (2011b). Identity importance and the overreporting of
religious service attendance: Multiple imputation of religious attendance
using the American Time Use Study and the General Social Survey.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50, 103–115. doi:10.1111/
j.1468-5906.2010.01554.x
Brewer, M. B., & Brown, R. J. (1998). Intergroup relations. In D. T. Gilbert
& S. T. Fiske (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol.
2, pp. 554–594). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
900 GALEN
Brooks, A. C. (2006). Who really cares: The surprising truth about
compassionate conservatism. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Brown, R. P., Barnes, C. D., & Campbell, N. J. (2007). Fundamentalism
and forgiveness. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 1437–1447.
doi:10.1016/j.paid.2007.04.025
Buggle, F., Bister, D., Nohe, G., Schneider, W., & Uhmann, K. (2000). Are
atheists more depressed than religious people? Free Inquiry, 20, 50–55.
Bulbulia, J., & Mahoney, A. (2008). Religious solidarity: The hand grenade
experiment. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 8, 295–320. doi:
10.1163/156853708X358191
Burris, C. T., & Jackson, L. M. (1999). Hate the sin/love the sinner, or love
the hater? Intrinsic religion and responses to partner abuse. Journal for
the Scientific Study of Religion, 38, 160–174. doi:10.2307/1387591
Burris, C. T., & Jackson, L. M. (2000). Social identity and the true
believer: Responses to threatened self-stereotypes among the intrinsically
religious. British Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 257–278.
doi:10.1348/014466600164462
Burris, C. T., & Navara, G. S. (2002). Morality play or playing morality?
Intrinsic religious orientation and socially desirable responding. Self and
Identity, 1, 67–76. doi:10.1080/152988602317232812
Bushman, B. J., Ridge, R. D., Das, E., Key, C. W., & Busath, G. L. (2007).
When God sanctions killing: Effect of scriptural violence on aggression.
Psychological Science, 18, 204 –207. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
9280.2007.01873.x
Campbell, D. E., & Yonish, S. J. (2003). Religion and volunteering in
America. In C. Smidt (Ed.), Religion as social capital: Producing the
common good (pp. 87–106). Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.
Carpenter, T. P., & Marshall, M. A. (2009). An examination of religious
priming and intrinsic religious motivation in the moral hypocrisy paradigm.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 48, 386–393. doi:
10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01454.x
Center for Global Development. (2004). Ranking the rich. Foreign Policy,
142, 46–56.
Center for Global Development. (2005). Ranking the rich. Foreign Policy,
150, 76–83.
Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. (2007). Geography and giving: The
culture of philanthropy in New England and the nation. Boston, MA:
Boston Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/
files/research_sites/cwp/pdf/geoandgiving2007.pdf
Chaves, M. (2010). Rain dances in the dry season: Overcoming the
religious congruence fallacy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,
49, 1–14. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01489.x
Chen, D. L., & Lind, J. T. (2007). Religion, welfare politics, and church–
state separation. Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 42, 42–52.
Chia, E. K. F., & Jih, C.-S. (1994). The effects of stereotyping on impression
formation: Cross-cultural perspectives on viewing religious persons.
Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 128, 559–
565. doi:10.1080/00223980.1994.9914913
Cota-McKinley, A. L., Woody, W. D., & Bell, P. A. (2001). Vengeance:
Effects of gender, age, and religious background. Aggressive Behavior,
27, 343–350. doi:10.1002/ab.1019
Cottone, J., Drucker, P., & Javier, R. A. (2007). Predictors of moral
reasoning: Components of executive functioning and aspects of religiosity.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 46, 37–53. doi:
10.1111/j.1468-5906.2007.00339.x
Curlin, F. A., Dugdale, L. S., Lantos, J. D., & Chin, M. H. (2007). Do
religious physicians disproportionately care for the underserved? Annals
of Family Medicine, 5, 353–360. doi:10.1370/afm.677
Darley, J. M., & Batson, C. D. (1973). “From Jerusalem to Jericho”: A
study of situational and dispositional variables in helping behavior.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 27, 100 –108. doi:
10.1037/h0034449
Davie, G. (1990). Believing without belonging: Is this the future of religion
in Britain? Social Compass, 37, 455– 469. doi:10.1177/
003776890037004004
De Dreu, C. K. W., Yzerbyt, V. Y., & Leyens, J.-P. (1995). Dilution of
stereotype-based cooperation in mixed-motive interdependence. Journal
of Experimental Social Psychology, 31, 575–593. doi:10.1006/
jesp.1995.1026
Diener, E., Tay, L., & Myers, D. G. (2011). The religion paradox: If
religion makes people happy, why are so many dropping out? Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 1278–1290. doi:10.1037/
a0024402
Eckel, C. C., & Grossman, P. J. (2004). Giving to secular causes by the
religious and nonreligious: An experimental test of the responsiveness of
giving to subsidies. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 33,
271–289. doi:10.1177/0899764004263423
Edgell, P., Gerteis, J., & Hartmann, D. (2006). Atheists as “other”: Moral
boundaries and cultural membership in American society. American
Sociological Review, 71, 211–234. doi:10.1177/000312240607100203
Eichhorn, J. (2011). Happiness for believers? Contextualizing the effects of
religiosity on life-satisfaction. European Sociological Review. Advance
online publication. doi:10.1093/esr/jcr027
Eliassen, A. H., Taylor, J., & Lloyd, D. A. (2005). Subjective religiosity
and depression in the transition to adulthood. Journal for the Scientific
Study of Religion, 44, 187–199. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00275.x
Ellison, C. G. (1992). Are religious people nice people? Evidence from the
National Survey of Black Americans. Social Forces, 71, 411–430.
doi:10.1093/sf/71.2.411
Ellison, C. G., & George, L. K. (1994). Religious involvement, social ties,
and social support in a southeastern community. Journal for the Scientific
Study of Religion, 33, 46–61. doi:10.2307/1386636
Farkas, S., Johnson, J., & Foleno, T. (with Duffett, A., & and Foley, P.).
(2001). For goodness’ sake: Why so many want religion to play a
greater role in American Life. Retrieved from http://www.publicagenda.
org/files/pdf/for_goodness_sake.pdf
Fehr, E., Fischbacher, U., Von Rosenbladt, B., Schupp, J., & Wagner,
G. G. (2003). A nation-wide laboratory: Examining trust and trustworthiness
by integrating behavioral experiments into representative survey
(CESifo Working Paper No. 866; IZA Discussion Paper No. 715).
doi:10.2139/ssrn.385120
Fehr, R., Gelfand, M. J., & Nag, M. (2010). The road to forgiveness: A
meta-analytic synthesis of its situational and dispositional correlates.
Psychological Bulletin, 136, 894–914. doi:10.1037/a0019993
Fershtman, C., Gneezy, U., & Verboven, F. (2005). Discrimination and
nepotism: The efficiency of the anonymity rule. Journal of Legal Studies,
34, 371–396. doi:10.1086/429846
Fishbach, A., Friedman, R. S., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2003). Leading us not
unto temptation: Momentary allurements elicit overriding goal activation.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 296–309. doi:
10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.296
Furnham, A. F. (1997). Knowing and faking one’s five-factor personality
score. Journal of Personality Assessment, 69, 229–243. doi:10.1207/
s15327752jpa6901_14
Galen, L. W., & Kloet, J. (2011a). Mental well-being in the religious and
the non-religious: Evidence for a curvilinear relationship. Mental
Health, Religion & Culture, 14, 673– 689. doi:10.1080/13674676
.2010.510829
Galen, L. W., & Kloet, J. (2011b). Personality and social integration factors
distinguishing nonreligious from religious groups: The importance of
controlling for attendance and demographics. Archive for the Psychology
of Religion, 33, 205–228.
Galen, L. W., Smith, C. M., Knapp, N., & Wyngarden, N. (2011). Perceptions
of religious and non-religious targets: Exploring the effects of
perceivers’ religious fundamentalism. Journal of Applied Social Psychology,
41, 2123–2143. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00810.x
CRITIQUE OF RELIGIOUS PROSOCIALITY 901
Gallup, G., Jr., & Lindsay, D. M. (1999). Surveying the religious landscape:
Trends in U.S. beliefs. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse.
Garos, S., Beggan, J. K., & Kluck, A. (2004). Temptation bias: Seeing
oneself as better able than others to resist temptation. In R. L. Piedmont
& D. O. Moberg (Eds.), Research in the social scientific study of religion
(Vol. 15, pp. 235–260). Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill.
Gebauer, J. E., Sedikides, C., & Neberich, W. (2012). Religiosity, social
self-esteem, and psychological adjustment: On the cross-cultural specificity
of the psychological benefits of religiosity. Psychological Science,
23, 158–160. doi:10.1177/0956797611427045
Gervais, W. M. (2011). Finding the faithless: Perceived atheist prevalence
reduces anti-atheist prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,
37, 543–556. doi:10.1177/0146167211399583
Gervais, W. M., & Norenzayan, A. (2012). Like a camera in the sky?
Thinking about God increases public self-awareness and socially desirable
responding. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 298–
302. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.09.006
Gervais, W. M., & Norenzayan, A. (in press). Reminders of secular
authority reduce believers’ distrust of atheists. Psychological Science.
Gervais, W. M., Shariff, A. F., & Norenzayan, A. (2011). Do you believe
in atheists? Distrust is central to anti-atheist prejudice. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 101, 1189–1206. doi:10.1037/a0025882
Getz, I. R. (1984). Moral judgment and religion: A review of the literature.
Counseling and Values, 28, 94–116. doi:10.1002/j.2161-007X.1984
.tb01153.x
Gillum, R. F., & Masters, K. S. (2010). Religiousness and blood donation:
Findings from a national survey. Journal of Health Psychology, 15,
163–172. doi:10.1177/1359105309345171
Ginges, J., Hansen, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2009). Religion and support for
suicide attacks. Psychological Science, 20, 224 –230. doi:10.1111/
j.1467-9280.2009.02270.x
Gorsuch, R. L. (1984). Measurement: The boon and bane of investigating
religion. American Psychologist, 39, 228 –236. doi:10.1037/0003-
066X.39.3.228
Graham, J., & Haidt, J. (2010). Beyond beliefs: Religions bind individuals
into moral communities. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14,
140–150. doi:10.1177/1088868309353415
Greenfield, E. A., & Marks, N. F. (2007). Religious social identity as an
explanatory factor for associations between more frequent formal religious
participation and psychological well-being. International Journal
for the Psychology of Religion, 17, 245–259. doi:10.1080/
10508610701402309
Greer, T., Berman, M., Varan, V., Bobrycki, L., & Watson, S. (2005). We
are a religious people; we are a vengeful people. Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, 44, 45–57. doi:10.1111/j.1468-
5906.2005.00264.x
Grossman, P. J., & Parrett, M. B. (2011). Religion and prosocial behaviour:
A field test. Applied Economics Letters, 18, 523–526. doi:10.1080/
13504851003761798
Hackney, C. H., & Sanders, G. S. (2003). Religiosity and mental health: A
meta-analysis of recent studies. Journal for the Scientific Study of
Religion, 42, 43–55. doi:10.1111/1468-5906.t01-1-00160
Hall, D. L., Matz, D. C., & Wood, W.. (2010). Why don’t we practice what
we preach? A meta-analytic review of religious racism. Personality and
Social Psychology Review, 14, 126 –139. doi:10.1177/
1088868309352179
Halman, L., & Draulans, V. (2006). How secular is Europe? British
Journal of Sociology, 57, 263–288. doi:10.1111/j.1468-
4446.2006.00109.x
Hansen, D. E., Vandenberg, B., & Patterson, M. L. (1995). The effects of
religious orientation on spontaneous and nonspontaneous helping behaviors.
Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 101–104. doi:10.1016/
0191-8869(95)00016-Y
Hardt, J., Schultz, S., Xander, C., Becker, G., & Dragan, M. (2012). The
Spirituality Questionnaire: Core dimensions of spirituality. Psychology,
3, 116–122. doi:10.4236/psych.2012.31017
Harper, M. (2007). The stereotyping of nonreligious people by religious
students: Contents and subtypes. Journal for the Scientific Study of
Religion, 46, 539–552. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2007.00376.x
Highfield, R., Wiseman, R., & Jenkins, R. (2009). In your face. New
Scientist, 201, 28–32. doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(09)60447-4
Hill, P. C., & Hood, R. W., Jr. (Eds.). (1999). Measures of religiosity.
Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.
Hodgkinson, V. A., & Weitzman, M. S. (1996). Giving and volunteering in
the United States: Findings from a national survey. Washington, DC:
Independent Sector.
Hogg, M. A., & Abrams, D. (1988). Collective identity: Group membership
and self-conception. In M. B. Brewer & M. Hewstone (Eds.), Self
and social identity (pp. 147–181). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Hood, R. W., Jr., Hill, P. C., & Spilka, B. (2009). The psychology of
religion: An empirical approach (4th ed.). New York, NY: Guilford
Press.
Horning, S. M., Hasker, P. D., Stirrat, M., & Cornwell, R. E. (2011).
Atheistic, agnostic, and religious older adults on well-being and coping
behaviors. Journal of Aging Studies, 25, 177–188. doi:10.1016/
j.jaging.2010.08.022
Horton, J. J., Rand, D. G., & Zeckhauser, R. J. (2010). The online
laboratory: Conducting experiments in a real labor market (NBER
Working Paper No. 15961). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic
Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w15961
Hout, M., & Fischer, C. S. (2002). Why more Americans have no religious
preference: Politics and generations. American Sociological Review, 67,
165–190. doi:10.2307/3088891
Hunsberger, B. E., & Altemeyer, R. A. (2006). Atheists: A groundbreaking
study of America’s nonbelievers. Amherst, New York: Prometheus
Books.
Hunsberger, B., & Jackson, L. M. (2005). Religion, meaning, and prejudice.
Journal of Social Issues, 61, 807– 826. doi:10.1111/j.1540-
4560.2005.00433.x
Hunsberger, B., & Platonow, E. (1986). Religion and helping charitable
causes. Journal of Psychology, 120, 517–528.
Hunsberger, B., Pratt, M., & Pancer, S. M. (2001). Religious versus
nonreligious socialization: Does religious background have implications
for adjustment? International Journal for the Psychology of Religion,
11, 105–128. doi:10.1207/S15327582IJPR1102_03
Hunter, J. A. (2001). Self-esteem and in-group bias among members of a
religious social category. Journal of Social Psychology, 141, 401–411.
doi:10.1080/00224540109600561
Isaac, S. V., Bailey, R. C., & Isaac, W. L. (1995). Perceptions of religious
and nonreligious targets who participate in premarital sex. Social Behavior
and Personality, 23, 229–233. doi:10.2224/sbp.1995.23.3.229
Jackson, E. F., Bachmeier, M. D., Wood, J. R., & Craft, E. A. (1995).
Volunteering and charitable giving: Do religious and associational ties
promote helping behavior? Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly,
24, 59–78. doi:10.1177/089976409502400108
Ji, C. C., Pendergraft, L., & Perry, M. (2006). Religiosity, altruism, and
altruistic hypocrisy: Evidence from Protestant adolescents. Review of
Religious Research, 48, 156–178.
Johansson-Stenman, O., Mahmud, M., & Martinsson, P. (2009). Trust and
religion: Experimental evidence from rural Bangladesh. Economica, 76,
462–485. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0335.2008.00689.x
Johnson, M. K., Rowatt, W. C., Barnard-Brak, L. M., Patock-Peckham,
J. P., LaBouff, J. P., & Carlisle, R. D. (2011). A mediational analysis of
the role of right-wing authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism in
the religiosity–prejudice link. Personality and Individual Differences,
50, 851–856. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.01.010
Johnson, M. K., Rowatt, W. C., & LaBouff, J. (2010). Priming Christian
902 GALEN
religious concepts increases racial prejudice. Social Psychological &
Personality Science, 1, 119–126. doi:10.1177/1948550609357246
Jorm, A. F., & Christensen, H. (2004). Religiosity and personality: Evidence
for non-linear associations. Personality and Individual Differences,
36, 1433–1441. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(03)00239-3
Jost, J. T., Glaser, J., Kruglanski, A. W., & Sulloway, F. J. (2003). Political
conservatism as motivated social cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 129,
339–375. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.129.3.339
Kagel, J. H., & Roth, A. E. (Eds.). (1995). The handbook of experimental
economics. Princeton University Press.
Kay, A. C., Shepherd, S., Blatz, C. W., Chua, S. N., & Galinsky, A. D.
(2010). For God (or) country: The hydraulic relation between government
instability and belief in religious sources of control. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 725–739. doi:10.1037/a0021140
Khan, U., & Dhar, R. (2006). Licensing effect in consumer choice. Journal
of Marketing Research, 43, 259–266. doi:10.1509/jmkr.43.2.259
Koenig, H. G. (2008). Concerns about measuring “spirituality” in research.
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 196, 349–355. doi:10.1097/
NMD.0b013e31816ff796
Koenig, H. G., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Religion and mental health:
Evidence for an association. International Review of Psychiatry, 13,
67–78. doi:10.1080/09540260124661
Koole, S. L., McCullough, M. E., Kuhl, J., & Roelofsma, P. H. M. P
(2010). Why religion’s burdens are light: From religiosity to implicit
self-regulation. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 95–107.
doi:10.1177/1088868309351109
Kosmin, B. A., & Keysar, A. (2008). American Religious Identification
Survey. Hartford, CT: Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society &
reports/ARIS_Report_2008.pdf
Kouchaki, M. (2011). Vicarious moral licensing: The influence of others’
past moral actions on moral behavior. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 101, 702–715. doi:10.1037/a0024552
LaBouff, J., Rowatt, W. C., Johnson, M. K., & Finkle, C. (in press).
Differences in attitudes towards outgroups in a religious or non-religious
context in a multi-national sample: A situational context priming study.
International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.
Lam, P. Y. (2002). As the flocks gather: How religion affects voluntary
association participation. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41,
405–422. doi:10.1111/1468-5906.00127
Laurin, K., Kay, A. C., & Fitzsimons, G. M. (2011). Divergent effects of
activating thoughts of God on self-regulation. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 102, 4–21. doi:10.1037/a0025971
Lavricˇ, M., & Flere, S. (2008). The role of culture in the relationship
between religiosity and psychological well-being. Journal of Religion
and Health, 47, 164–175. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9168-z
Laythe, B., Finkel, D., & Kirkpatrick, L. A. (2001). Predicting prejudice
from religious fundamentalism and right-wing authoritarianism: A
multiple-regression approach. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,
40, 1–10. doi:10.1111/0021-8294.00033
Leach, M. M., Berman, M. E., & Eubanks, L. (2008). Religious activities,
religious orientation, and aggressive behavior. Journal for the Scientific
Study of Religion, 47, 311–319. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2008.00409.x
Leak, G. K., & Fish, S. (1989). Religious orientation, impression management,
and self-deception: Toward a clarification of the link between
religiosity and social desirability. Journal for the Scientific Study of
Religion, 28, 355–359. doi:10.2307/1386746
Lim, C., & Putnam, R. D. (2010). Religion, social networks, and life
satisfaction. American Sociological Review, 75, 914–933. doi:10.1177/
0003122410386686
Lincoln, R., Morrissey, C. A., & Mundey, P. (2008). Religious giving: A
literature review. Retrieved from http://generosityresearch.nd.edu/
assets/20447/religious_giving_final.pdf
Lodi-Smith, J., & Roberts, B. W. (2007). Social investment and personality:
A meta-analysis of the relationship of personality traits to investment
in work, family, religion, and volunteerism. Personality and Social
Psychology Review, 11, 68–86. doi:10.1177/1088868306294590
Maclean, A. M., Walker, L. J., & Matsuba, M. K. (2004). Transcendence
and the moral self: Identity integration, religion, and moral life. Journal
for the Scientific Study of Religion, 43, 429–437. doi:10.1111/j.1468-
5906.2004.00245.x
Mahoney, A., Pargament, K. I., Jewell, T., Swank, A. B., Scott, E., Emery,
E., & Rye, M. (1999). Marriage and the spiritual realm: The role of
proximal and distal religious constructs in marital functioning. Journal
of Family Psychology, 13, 321–338. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.13.3.321
Manning, L. K. (2010). Gender and religious differences associated with
volunteering in later life. Journal of Women & Aging, 22, 125–135.
doi:10.1080/08952841003719224
Masters, K. S., & Knestel, A. (2011). Religious orientation among a
random sample of community-dwelling adults: Relations with health
status and health-relevant behavior. International Journal for the Psychology
of Religion, 21, 63–76. doi:10.1080/10508619.2011.532450
Mazar, N., Amir, O., & Ariely, D. (2008). The dishonesty of honest people:
A theory of self-concept maintenance. Journal of Marketing Research,
45, 633–644. doi:10.1509/jmkr.45.6.633
McCullough, M. E., Enders, C. K., Brion, S. L., & Jain, A. R. (2005). The
varieties of religious development in adulthood: A longitudinal investigation
of religion and rational choice. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 89, 78–89. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.89.1.78
McCullough, M. E., & Willoughby, B. L. B. (2009). Religion, selfregulation,
and self-control: Associations, explanations, and implications.
Psychological Bulletin, 135, 69–93. doi:10.1037/a0014213
McCullough, M. E., & Worthington, E. L., Jr. (1999). Religion and the
forgiving personality. Journal of Personality, 67, 1141–1164. doi:
10.1111/1467-6494.00085
McKay, R., Efferson, C., Whitehouse, H., & Fehr, E. (2011). Wrath of
God: Religious primes and punishment. Proceedings of the Royal Society
of London B: Biological Sciences, 278, 1858–1863. doi:10.1098/
rspb.2010.2125
Meltzer, H. I., Dogra, N., Vostanis, P., & Ford, T. (2011). Religiosity and
the mental health of adolescents in Great Britain. Mental Health, Religion
& Culture, 14, 703–713. doi:10.1080/13674676.2010.515567
Merritt, A. C., Effron, D. A., & Monin, B. (2010). Moral self-licensing:
When being good frees us to be bad. Social and Personality Psychology
Compass, 4, 344–357. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00263.x
Midlarsky, E., Jones, S. F., & Corley, R. P. (2005). Personality correlates
of heroic rescue during the Holocaust. Journal of Personality, 73,
907–934. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00333.x
Miller, M. K., & Bornstein, B. H. (2006). The use of religion in death
penalty sentencing trials. Law and Human Behavior, 30, 675–684.
doi:10.1007/s10979-006-9056-6
Mochon, D., Norton, M. I., & Ariely, D. (2011). Who benefits from
religion? Social Indicators Research, 101, 1–15. doi:10.1007/s11205-
010-9637-0
Monsma, S. V. (2007). Religion and philanthropic giving and volunteering:
Building blocks for civic responsibility. Interdisciplinary Journal of
Research on Religion, 3, Article 3.
Morgan, S. P. (1983). A research note on religion and morality: Are
religious people nice people? Social Forces, 61, 683–692. doi:10.1093/
sf/61.3.683
Murphy, P. E., Ciarrocchi, J. W., Piedmont, R. L., Cheston, S., Peyrot, M.,
& Fitchett, G. (2000). The relation of religious belief and practices,
depression, and hopelessness in persons with clinical depression. Journal
of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 1102–1106. doi:10.1037/
0022-006X.68.6.1102
Myers, D. G. (2000). The funds, friends, and faith of happy people.
American Psychologist, 55, 56–67. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.56
CRITIQUE OF RELIGIOUS PROSOCIALITY 903
Myers, D. G. (2008). A friendly letter to skeptics and atheists: Musings on
why God is good and faith isn’t evil. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Myers, D. G. (2009, February 20). The complicated relationship between
religiosity and social well-being. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved
.LTE.pdf
Narvaez, D., Getz, I., Rest, J. R., & Thoma, S. J. (1999). Individual moral
judgment and cultural ideologies. Developmental Psychology, 35, 478–
488. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.35.2.478
Naumann, L. P., Vazire, S., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2009).
Personality judgments based on physical appearance. Personality and
Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1661–1671. doi:10.1177/
0146167209346309
Nelson, L. D., & Norton, M. I. (2005). From student to superhero: Situational
primes shape future helping. Journal of Experimental Social
Psychology, 41, 423–430. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2004.08.003
Newport, F., Agrawal, S., & Witters, D. (2010, December 1). Very religious
Americans report less depression, worry. Retrieved from http://
Depression-Worry.aspx
Neyrinck, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Duriez, B., & Hutsebaut, D.
(2006). Cognitive, affective, and behavioral correlates of internalization
of regulations for religious activities. Motivation and Emotion, 30,
323–334. doi:10.1007/s11031-006-9048-3
Nordgren, L. F., van Harreveld, F., & van der Pligt, J. (2009). The restraint
bias: How the illusion of self-restraint promotes impulsive behavior.
Psychological Science, 20, 1523–1528. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
9280.2009.02468.x
Norenzayan, A., & Shariff, A. F. (2008). The origin and evolution of
religious prosociality. Science, 322, 58 – 62. doi:10.1126/science
.1158757
Oliner, S. P., & Oliner, P. M. (1988). The altruistic personality: Rescuers
of Jews in Nazi Europe. New York, NY: Free Press.
Orbell, J., Goldman, M., Mulford, M., & Dawes, R. (1992). Religion,
context, and constraint toward strangers. Rationality and Society, 4,
291–307. doi:10.1177/1043463192004003004
Paciotti, B., Richerson, P., Baum, B., Lubell, M., Waring, T., McElreath,
R., . . . Edsten, E. (2011). Are religious individuals more generous,
trusting, and cooperative? An experimental test of the effect of religion
on prosociality. In D. C. Wood (Series Ed.) & L. Obadia & D. C. Wood
(Vol. Eds.), Research in Economic Anthropology: Vol. 31. The economics
of religion: Anthropological approaches (pp. 267–305). Bingley,
England: Emerald. doi:10.1108/S0190-1281(2011)0000031014
Paloutzian, R. F., & Ellison, C. W. (1982). Loneliness, spiritual well-being
and the quality of life. In L. A. Peplau & D. Perlman (Eds.), Loneliness:
A sourcebook of current theory, research and therapy (pp. 224–236).
New York, NY: Wiley.
Park, J. Z., & Smith, C. (2000). “To whom much has been given . . .”:
Religious capital and community voluntarism among churchgoing Protestants.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 39, 272–286. doi:
10.1111/0021-8294.00023
Paulhus, D. L., & John, O. P. (1998). Egoistic and moralistic biases in
self-perception: The interplay of self-deceptive styles with basic traits
and motives. Journal of Personality, 66, 1025–1060. doi:10.1111/1467-
6494.00041
Peifer, J. L. (2007). Religious giving as a response to community? (CSES
Working Paper No. 42). Ithaca, NY: Center for the Study of Economy and
wp42_peifer_07.pdf
Pelham, B., & Crabtree, S. (2008, October 8). Worldwide, highly religious
more likely to help others. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/
111013/worldwide-highly-religious-more-likely-help-others.aspx
Pepper, M., Jackson, T., & Uzzell, D. (2010). A study of multidimensional
religion constructs and values in the United Kingdom. Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, 49, 127–146. doi:10.1111/j.1468-
5906.2009.01496.x
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (2008). U.S. Religious Landscape
Survey: Religious affiliation: Diverse and dynamic. Retrieved from
pdf
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (2010). U.S. Religious Knowledge
Knowledge-Survey.aspx
Pichon, I., Boccato, G., & Saroglou, V. (2007). Nonconscious influences of
religion on prosociality: A priming study. European Journal of Social
Psychology, 37, 1032–1045. doi:10.1002/ejsp.416
Pichon, I., & Saroglou, V. (2009). Religion and helping: Impact of target,
thinking styles and just-world beliefs. Archive for the Psychology of
Religion, 31, 215–236. doi:10.1163/157361209X424466
Piedmont, R. L. (1999). Does spirituality represent the sixth factor of
personality? Spiritual transcendence and the five-factor model. Journal
of Personality, 67, 985–1013. doi:10.1111/1467-6494.00080
Preston, J. L., Ritter, R. S., & Hernandez, J. I. (2010). Principles of
religious prosociality: A review and reformulation. Social and Personality
Psychology Compass, 4, 574 –590. doi:10.1111/j.1751-
9004.2010.00286.x
Pruckner, G. J., & Sausgruber, R. (2008). Honesty on the streets: A natural
field experiment on newspaper purchasing. Retrieved from http://
Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American
community. New York, NY: Touchstone.
Putnam, R. D., & Campbell, D. E. (2010). American grace: How religion
divides and unites us. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Randolph-Seng, B., & Nielsen, M. E. (2007). Honesty: One effect of
primed religious representations. International Journal for the Psychology
of Religion, 17, 303–315. doi:10.1080/10508610701572812
Randolph-Seng, B., & Nielsen, M. E. (2008). Is God really watching you? A
response to Shariff and Norenzayan (2007). International Journal for the
Psychology of Religion, 18, 119–122. doi:10.1080/10508610701879373
Rees, T. (2009, August 6). The happiness smile [Web log message].
happiness-smile.html
Reitsma, J., Scheepers, P., & te Grotenhuis, M. (2006). Dimensions of
individual religiosity and charity: Cross-national effect differences in
European countries?” Review of Religious Research, 47, 347–362.
Reynolds, S. J., & Ceranic, T. L. (2007). The effects of moral judgment and
moral identity of moral behavior: An empirical examination of the moral
individual. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1610–1624. doi:10.1037/
0021-9010.92.6.1610
Richards, P. S. (1991). Religious devoutness in college students: Relations
with emotional adjustment and psychological separation from parents.
Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38, 189–196. doi:10.1037/0022-
0167.38.2.189
Riley, J., Best, S., & Charlton, B. G. (2005). Religious believers and strong
atheists may both be less depressed than existentially-uncertain people.
Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 98, 840. doi:10.1093/qjmed/hci132
Ritter, R. S., & Preston, J. L. (2011). Gross gods and icky atheism: Disgust
response to rejected religious beliefs. Journal of Experimental Social
Psychology, 47, 1225–1230. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.05.006
Rokeach, M. (1969). Religious values and social compassion. Review of
Religious Research, 11, 24–39. doi:10.2307/3510551
Ross, C. E. (1990). Religion and psychological distress. Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, 29, 236–245. doi:10.2307/1387431
Rossano, M. J. (2008). The moral faculty: Does religion promote “moral
expertise”? International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 18,
169–194. doi:10.1080/10508610802115727
Rowatt, W. C., Franklin, L. M., & Cotton, M. (2005). Patterns and
personality correlates of implicit and explicit attitudes toward Christians
904 GALEN
and Muslims. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 44, 29–43.
doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00263.x
Rowatt, W. C., Ottenbreit, A., Nesselroade, K. P., Jr., & Cunningham,
P. A. (2002). On being holier-than-thou or humbler-than-thee: A socialpsychological
perspective on religiousness and humility. Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 227–237. doi:10.1111/1468-5906.00113
Ruffle, B. J., & Sosis, R. (2006). Cooperation and the in-group-out-group
bias: A field test on Israeli kibbutz members and city residents. Journal
of Economic Behavior & Organization, 60, 147–163. doi:10.1016/
j.jebo.2004.07.007
Ryan, R. M., Rigby, S., & King, K. (1993). Two types of religious
internalization and their relations to religious orientations and mental
health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 586–596.
doi:10.1037/0022-3514.65.3.586
Sabatier, C., Mayer, B., Friedlmeier, M., Lubiewska, K., & Trommsdorff,
G. (2011). Religiosity, family orientation, and life satisfaction of adolescents
in four countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42,
1375–1393. doi:10.1177/0022022111412343
Sachdeva, S., Iliev, R., & Medin, D. L. (2009). Sinning saints and saintly
sinners: The paradox of moral self-regulation. Psychological Science,
20, 523–528. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02326.x
Sapp, G. L., & Jones, L. (1986). Religious orientation and moral judgment.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 25, 208–214. doi:10.2307/
1385477
Saroglou, V. (2002). Religion and the five factors of personality: A
meta-analytic review. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 15–
25. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(00)00233-6
Saroglou, V. (2006, Spring). Religion’s role in prosocial behavior: Myth or
reality? Psychology of Religion Newsletter, 31, 1–8.
Saroglou, V. (2010). Religiousness as a cultural adaptation of basic traits:
A five-factor model perspective. Personality and Social Psychology
Review, 14, 108–125. doi:10.1177/1088868309352322
Saroglou, V. (2011). Believing, bonding, behaving, and belonging: The
Big Four religious dimensions and cultural variation. Journal of Cross-
Cultural Psychology, 42, 1320–1340. doi:10.1177/0022022111412267
Saroglou, V., Corneille, O., & Van Cappellen, P. (2009). “Speak, Lord,
your servant is listening”: Religious priming activates submissive
thoughts and behaviors. International Journal for the Psychology of
Religion, 19, 143–154. doi:10.1080/10508610902880063
Saroglou, V., Delpierre, V., & Dernelle, R. (2004). Values and religiosity:
A meta-analysis of studies using Schwartz’s model. Personality and
Individual Differences, 37, 721–734. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2003.10.005
Saroglou, V., Pichon, I., Trompette, L., Verschueren, M., & Dernelle, R.
(2005). Prosocial behavior and religion: New evidence based on projective
measures and peer ratings. Journal for the Scientific Study of
Religion, 44, 323–348. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00289.x
Sasaki, J. Y., & Kim, H. S. (2011). At the intersection of culture and
religion: A cultural analysis of religion’s implications for secondary
control and social affiliation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
101, 401–414. doi:10.1037/a0021849
Sasaki, J. Y., Kim, H. S., Mojaverian, T., Kelley, L. D. S., Park, I. Y., &
Janušonis, S. (2011). Religion priming differentially increases prosocial
behavior among variants of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Advance online publication.
doi:10.1093/scan/nsr089
Schwartz, S. H., & Huismans, S. (1995). Value priorities and religiosity in
four Western religions. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58, 88–107. doi:
10.2307/2787148
Sedikides, C., & Gebauer, J. E. (2010). Religiosity as self-enhancement: A
meta-analysis of the relation between socially desirable responding and
religiosity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 17–36. doi:
10.1177/1088868309351002
Shariff, A. F., & Norenzayan, A. (2007). God is watching you: Priming
God concepts increases prosocial behavior in an anonymous economic
game. Psychological Science, 18, 803– 809. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
9280.2007.01983.x
Shaver, P., Lenauer, M., & Sadd, S. (1980). Religiousness, conversion, and
subjective well-being: The “healthy-minded” religion of modern American
women. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137, 1563–1568.
Smith, B. G., & Stark, R. (2009, September 4). Religious attendance
relates to generosity worldwide. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/
poll/122807/Religious-Attendance-Relates-Generosity-Worldwide.aspx
Smith, R. E., Wheeler, G., & Diener, E. (1975). Faith without works: Jesus
people, resistance to temptation, and altruism. Journal of Applied Social
Psychology, 5, 320–330. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1975.tb00684.x
Smith, T. B., McCullough, M. E., & Poll, J. (2003). Religiousness and
depression: Evidence for a main effect and the moderating influence of
stressful life events. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 614–636. doi:10.1037/
0033-2909.129.4.614
Snoep, L. (2008). Religiousness and happiness in three nations: A research
note. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 207–211. doi:10.1007/s10902-
007-9045-6
Sosis, R., & Ruffle, B. J. (2003). Religious ritual and cooperation: Testing
for a relationship on Israeli religious and secular kibbutzim. Current
Anthropology, 44, 713–722. doi:10.1086/379260
Stegmueller, D., Scheepers, P., Rossteutscher, S., & de Jong, E. (2011).
Support for redistribution in Western Europe: Assessing the role of
religion. European Sociological Review. Advance online publication.
doi:10.1093/esr/jcr011
Tamarin, G. R. (1966). The influence of ethnic and religious prejudice on
moral judgment. New Outlook, 9, 49–58.
Tan, J. H. W. (2006). Religion and social preferences: An experimental
study. Economics Letters, 90, 60–67. doi:10.1016/j.econlet.2005.07.006
Tan, J. H. W., & Vogel, C. (2008). Religion and trust: An experimental
study. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29, 832–848. doi:10.1016/
j.joep.2008.03.002
Taylor, A., & MacDonald, D. A. (1999). Religion and the five factor model
of personality: An exploratory investigation using a Canadian university
sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 1243–1259. doi:
10.1016/S0191-8869(99)00068-9
Taylor, D. M., & Jaggi, V. (1974). Ethnocentrism and causal attribution in
a south Indian context. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 5, 162–
171. doi:10.1177/002202217400500202
Taylor, S. E. (1989). Positive illusions: Creative self-deception and the
healthy mind. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Tierney, J. (2008, December 30). For good self-control, try getting religious
about it. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://
Tinoco, J. (1998). Effect of intergroup differentiation on participation with
religious young people. International Journal for the Psychology of
Religion, 8, 197–204. doi:10.1207/s15327582ijpr0803_5
Toburen, T., & Meier, B. P. (2010). Priming God-related concepts increases
anxiety and task persistence. Journal of Social and Clinical
Psychology, 29, 127–143. doi:10.1521/jscp.2010.29.2.127
Trimble, D. E. (1997). The Religious Orientation Scale: Review and
meta-analysis of social desirability effects. Educational and Psychological
Measurement, 57, 970–986. doi:10.1177/0013164497057006007
Tsang, J.-A., McCullough, M. E., & Hoyt, W. T. (2005). Psychometric and
rationalization accounts of the religion–forgiveness discrepancy. Journal
of Social Issues, 61, 785– 805. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.2005
.00432.x
Tsang, J.-A., Schulwitz, A., & Carlisle, R. D. (2011). An experimental test
of the relationship between religion and gratitude. Psychology of Religion
and Spirituality, 4, 40–55. doi:10.1037/a0025632
Turner, J. C., Brown, R. J., & Tajfel, H. (1979). Social comparison and
group interest in ingroup favouritism. European Journal of Social Psychology,
9, 187–204. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2420090207
CRITIQUE OF RELIGIOUS PROSOCIALITY 905
Tversky, A. (1977). Features of similarity. Psychological Review, 84,
327–352. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.84.4.327
Uslaner, E. M. (2002). Religion and civic engagement in Canada and the
United States. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 239–254.
doi:10.1111/1468-5906.00114
Van Cappellen, P., Corneille, O., Cols, S., & Saroglou, V. (2011). Beyond
mere compliance to authority figures: Religious priming increases conformity
to informational influence among submissive people. International
Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 21, 97–105. doi:10.1080/
10508619.2011.556995
Vilaythong Tran, O., Lindner, N. M., & Nosek, B. A. (2010). “Do unto
others”: Effects of priming the golden rule on Buddhists’ and Christians’
attitudes toward gay people. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,
49, 494–506. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01524.x
Walker, L. J. (1999). The perceived personality of moral exemplars.
Journal of Moral Education, 28, 145–162. doi:10.1080/
030572499103188
Watson, P. J., Morris, R. J., Foster, J. E., & Hood, R. W., Jr. (1986).
Religiosity and social desirability. Journal for the Scientific Study of
Religion, 25, 215–232. doi:10.2307/1385478
Weeks, M., & Vincent, M. A. (2007). Using religious affiliation to spontaneously
categorize others. International Journal for the Psychology of
Religion, 17, 317–331. doi:10.1080/10508610701572846
Welch, M. R., Tittle, C. R., & Grasmick, H. G. (2006). Christian religiosity,
self-control and social conformity. Social Forces, 84, 1605–1623.
doi:10.1353/sof.2006.0075
Wenger, J. L. (2007). The implicit nature of intrinsic religious pursuit.
International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 17, 47–60. doi:
10.1207/s15327582ijpr1701_4
Widman, D. R., Corcoran, K. E., & Nagy, R. E. (2009). Belonging to the
same religion enhances the opinion of others’ kindness and morality.
Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 3, 281–289.
Wiepking, P. (2010). Democrats support international relief and the upper
class donates to art? How opportunity, incentives and confidence affect
donations to different types of charitable organizations. Social Science
Research, 39, 1073–1087. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.06.005
Wilkinson, P. J., & Coleman, P. G. (2010). Strong beliefs and coping in old
age: A case-based comparison of atheism and religious faith. Ageing and
Society, 30, 337–361. doi:10.1017/S0144686X09990353
Williamson, W. P., & Assadi, A. (2005). Religious orientation, incentive,
self-esteem, and gender as predictors of academic dishonesty: An experimental
approach. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 27, 137–
158.
Wilson, T. D. (2002). Strangers to ourselves: Discovering the adaptive
unconscious. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press/Harvard University Press.
Zhang, J., & Jin, S. (1996). Determinants of suicidal ideation: A comparison
of Chinese and American college students. Adolescence, 31, 451–
467.
Zuckerman, P. (2008). Society without God: What the least religious
nations can tell us about contentment. New York: New York University
Press.
Received March 14, 2011
Revision received February 21, 2012
Accepted February 23, 2012

 Voir enfin:

COMMENT
David G. Myers
Hope College
Luke Galen (2012) offers a timely analysis of associations between religiosity and prosocial and
antisocial attitudes and behaviors. After identifying 10 points of agreement, I raise 8 questions for further
reflection and research: (1) Is ingroup giving and volunteerism not prosocial? (2) Are religion-related
prosocial norms part of the religious factor? (3) Is social support also appropriately considered part of the
religious factor? (4) Are self-report data from more and less religious people invalid? (5) How should we
disentangle gender and religiosity? (6) How might we resolve “the religious engagement paradox”? (7)
Does religion serve an adaptive, evolutionary function? And (8) Might research further explore religi-
osity, in its varieties, and prosociality?
Keywords:
religiosity, religion, altruism, prosocial
Supplemental materials:
Does religion do more harm than good? In public debate,
religion’s adversaries point to yesterday’s inquisitions and witch
hunts, and today’s gay-bashing, antiscience fundamentalists, while
religion’s advocates remind us of the legacy of religion-inspired
hospitals, hospices, orphanages, and universities. Christopher
Hitchens (2007), in
God Is Not Great
, sought to explain, in the
words of its subtitle, how religion poisons everything. Indeed,
many who profess love practice hate. The “insane courage” that
enabled the 9/11 terrorism, “came from religion,” noted Richard
Dawkins (2001). But so did the nobler courage that motivated
William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
and Mother Teresa, reply religion’s defenders, noting also the
life-devaluing brutality of the irreligious Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot,
Nicolae Ceaus ̧escu, and Kim Jong-il.
The vivid extremes of religion and irreligion—the best and the
worst of each—rhetorically cancel each other. That leaves dispas-
sionate research to assess whether religion more often promotes
prosociality or antisociality among the estimated 68% of human
beings (4.6 billion people) who answer “yes” when asked by
Gallup “Is religion an important part of your everyday life?”
(Diener, Tay, & Myers, 2011). Given the prevalence of religion in
its widely varying forms, and the significance of the question to
contemporary social and political life, Galen’s (2012) review is
timely.
Points of Agreement
Galen’s (2012) assertions include these 10, each of which seems
well documented by pertinent research:
1. Social perception.
People in much-studied religious places
such as the United States tend to view religious people favorably.
2. Ingroup bias.
That’s likely because most people, being
religious, display commonplace ingroup preferences. Ingroup bias
operates within all sorts of groups, including religious groups.
3. Ingroup giving.
Much giving and volunteering (in com-
munities) and sharing (in laboratory games) is directed to ingroups.
4. Priming effects.
Priming people with religious concepts
increases sharing and honesty, but it can also increase negativity,
including antigay prejudice.
5. Religious diversity.
There are, as William James long ago
recognized, varieties of religious experience, and the variations
matter (Paloutzian & Park, in press). Intrinsic religiosity predicts
prosociality; extrinsic religiosity does not. Fundamentalists differ
radically from peace-and-justice-promoting Mennonites and liber-
ation Catholics. “The social, historical, and moral realities of
religions are just as complicated, scrambled, and difficult as every
other social practice and institution in human life—both the ones
we personally like and the ones we don’t,” wrote sociologist
Christian Smith (2012, p. 14). “The truth about religions is com-
plex and challenging. Historically and today, religion involves
plenty of good and bad, light and darkness, splendor and evil to go
around.”
6. Intentional versus spontaneous prosociality.
Religiosity
predicts planned more than spontaneous helping behaviors.
7. Private versus public charity.
Religiosity also correlates
more with private charity (giving money and time) than with
support for public (government) charity.
For comments on drafts of this article, I extend thanks, without extend-
ing any responsibility, to Kathryn Brownson, Nathan DeWall, Byron
Johnson, Raymond Paloutzian, Kenneth Pargament, Louis Tay, Daryl Van
Tongeren, Charlotte van Oyen Witvliet, and Everett Worthington.
Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to David G.
Myers, Department of Psychology, Hope College, Holland, MI 49422-
9000. E-mail: myers@hope.edu
Psychological Bulletin
© 2012 American Psychological Association
2012, Vol.
●●
, No.
, 000–000
0033-2909/12/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0029009
1
tapraid5/z2r-psybul/z2r-psybul/z2r00512/z2r2335d12z
xppws S
1 6/6/12 1:54 Art: 2012-0898
(Slated
for
January,
2013
publication)
8. Self-justification.
Religion can justify outgroup prejudice.
“The role of religion is paradoxical,” observed Gordon Allport
(1958, p. 413). “It makes prejudice and it unmakes prejudice.”
Thus religious prophets from Jeremiah to Desmond Tutu have
often faulted their own community for failing to walk the com-
passion talk.
9. Curvilinear associations.
Religiosity has some curvilinear
relationships with prosociality and human flourishing. An example
is the oft-reported curvilinear association between religiosity and
racial prejudice, which Allport and Ross (1967) and others found
lowest among the nonreligious and highly religious. More re-
cently, an analysis of more than 676,000 Gallup–Healthways
Well-Being Index interviews conducted in 2010 and 2011 found
that “very religious” Americans had the highest levels of well-
being (69.2%), with those “moderately religious” (63.7%) scoring
lower than the “nonreligious” (65.3%; Newport, Witters, &
Agrawal, 2012). Comparisons of prosocial highly religious people
with less prosocial nominally religious people also fail to consider
the existence of a growing third group—the relatively prosocial
nonreligious. These include today’s religious “nones” and atheists
(many of whom are highly educated).
10. Cultural variation.
The religiosity–happiness associa-
tion is stronger in relatively religious countries than in more
secular countries—a finding recently reported by Diener et al.
(2011) and also by Gebauer, Sedikides, and Neberich (2012).
Questions to Ponder
Reading Galen (2012) stimulated these further thoughts and
questions:
1. Is ingroup giving and volunteerism not prosocial?
Along the continuum of human concern—from self to immediate
kin to extended family to neighbors to larger communal groups
(one’s religious community, school, village, state, nation, world)—
where does prosociality begin? If someone gives to his or her alma
mater (rather than taking a cruise), is that prosocial? To the local
Rotary Club? To the American Red Cross if not the International
Red Cross? Galen assumes that within a mostly religious town,
support for “even a secular food bank or homeless shelter” (p.
XXX) would reflect a mere “ingroup preference.” But isn’t much
real charity local, in contexts where people are more aware of need
(Musick & Wilson, 2008)?
Even so, the Center for Global Prosperity (2007, p. 22) reports
that “religious people are more charitable than the non-religious
not only in giving to their congregations, but are also—regardless
of income, region, social class, and other demographic variables—
significantly more charitable in their secular donations and infor-
mal giving.” A recent Pew Research Center survey of 2,303 adults
found that 34% of “religiously active” were “active in charitable or
volunteer organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or the Hu-
man Society (versus 15% for the non-religious)” (Jansen, 2011,
para. 6, bullet 2). Putnam and Campbell’s (2010) own national
survey data produced a similar result:
Religiously observant Americans are more generous with time and
treasure than demographically similar secular Americans. This is true
for secular causes (especially help to the needy, the elderly, and young
people) as well as for purely religious causes. It is true even for most
random acts of kindness. . . . And the pattern is so robust that evidence
of it can be found in virtually every major national survey of Amer-
ican religious and social behavior. Any way you slice it, religious
people are simply more generous. (pp. 453–454)
2. Are religion-related prosocial norms part of the religious
factor?
Highly religious people are said to overreport the proso-
cial behaviors commended by their religions. Religious primes are
also said to elicit “a general social stereotype of prosociality”
rather than something peculiarly religious (Galen, 2012, p. XXX).
“Religion’s effect on self-control is based on cultural stereotypes
about how religion ought to function” (Galen, 2012, p. XXX). And
broad religious prosocial norms probably are impotent because
“broad moral precepts result in little actual behavioral change”
(Galen, 2012, p. XXX).
But consider: If, indeed, there are strong prosocial norms among
religious people (many of whom hear almost weekly admonitions
to “love your neighbor as yourself,” to support “the least of these,”
and to practice the Golden Rule, to forgive, to embrace gratitude,
and so forth), then—given what we know about the influence of
values and attitudes on pertinent behaviors—might we not expect
some
effect of internalized values? Given the known influence of
cultural norms, as in Cialdini’s (2012) work on activating moral
norms regarding sustainable and antilittering behaviors, should we
not also expect that religious prosocial norms would have
some
effect? And are these norms not part of the religious variable, and
perhaps related to the association of religiosity with self-control
(McCullough & Willoughby, 2009)? The
Council for a Parlia-
ment of the World’s Religions (1993) articulated a cross-
religion social responsibility norm in its consensus statement:
“We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. . . . We
consider humankind our family. . . . Every form of egoism
should be rejected” (pp. 2 and 7).
Schwartz and Huismans (1995) explored such faith-rooted
norms among Jews in Israel, Catholics in Spain, Calvinists in the
Netherlands, the Orthodox in Greece, and Lutherans and Catholics
in western Germany. In each place, they found highly religious
people to be less hedonistic and self-oriented. Faith-rooted values
appeared to give many people a reason to behave morally when no
one is looking. “Religions encourage people to seek meaning
beyond everyday existence,” they reported, and “exhort people to
pursue causes greater than their personal desires. The opposed
orientation, self-indulgent materialism, seeks happiness in the pur-
suit and consumption of material goods” (p. 91).
3. Is social support also appropriately considered part of the
religious factor?
Galen (2012, p. XXX) notes that “church
attendance or social factors in religious organizations are typically
stronger predictors” of prosociality than are private expressions of
devotion and belief. But a full-bodied religion normally includes
religious engagement, which is one indicator of degree or intensity
of religiosity.
Religio
(“to bind together”) is not just nominal
belief, it is spirituality practiced in community. As John Winthrop
(1630/1965, p. 92) explained to fellow Puritans aboard the
Ara-
bella
before landing in their new world, “We must delight in each
other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn
together, labor and suffer together . . . as members of the same
body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”
Social support (“fellowship”) is intrinsic to the religious life.
Religious lip service without religious engagement is often an
inactive religiosity. We could study the effects of religiosity while
controlling for associated norms and social support, and for other
2
MYERS
AQ: 2
tapraid5/z2r-psybul/z2r-psybul/z2r00512/z2r2335d12z
xppws S
1 6/6/12 1:54 Art: 2012-0898
(Slated for January, 2013 publication)

Un commentaire pour Science/religion: Et qui est mon prochain ? (Study confirms Bible’s good Samaritan teaching: religion can make you less generous and meaner)

  1. If you go looking for Clash of Clans hacks you may find more choices than you’ll be able to believe including Clash of Clans
    hacks downloads and online Conflict of Clans hacks that declare to hack into the Conflict of
    Clans servers to deliver free Clash of Clans gems, elixir and gold.

    J'aime

Laisser un commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion / Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Google+

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Google+. Déconnexion / Changer )

Connexion à %s

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :