Do Religious Contexts Elicit More Trust and Altruism? An Experiment on Facebook

30 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2010  

Bradley J. Ruffle

Wilfrid Laurier University - School of Business & Economics

Richard H. Sosis

University of Connecticut - Department of Anthropology

Date Written: March 5, 2010

Abstract

We design a decision-making scenario experiment on Facebook to measure subjects’ altruism and trust toward attendees of a religious service, a fitness class and a local music performance. Secular and religious subjects alike display significantly more altruism and trust toward the synagogue attendees than participants at the other two venues. By all measures of religiosity, even the most secular subjects behave more prosocially in the religious venue than in the comparable non-religious settings. We also find that secular subjects are just as altruistic toward synagogue and prayer group members as religious subjects are. These findings support recent theories that emphasize the pivotal role of religious context in arousing high levels of prosociality among those who are religious. Finally, our results offer startlingly little evidence for the widely documented religious-secular divide in Israel.

Keywords: Religion, Trust, Altruism, Religious Context, Religious-Secular Conflict

JEL Classification: C72, Z12

Suggested Citation

Ruffle, Bradley J. and Sosis, Richard H., Do Religious Contexts Elicit More Trust and Altruism? An Experiment on Facebook (March 5, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1566123 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1566123

Bradley J. Ruffle (Contact Author)

Wilfrid Laurier University - School of Business & Economics ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5
Canada

Richard H. Sosis

University of Connecticut - Department of Anthropology ( email )

354 Mansfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-1176
United States
860-486-4264 (Phone)
860-486-1719 (Fax)

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