Are Those Who Believe in God Really More Prosocial?
Religion, Brain & Behavior, DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2019.1695656
43 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018 Last revised: 22 Dec 2019
Date Written: 2019
Whether those who believe in God are more prosocial has been a long debated topic. Here we shed new light on this question by examining giving in incentivized Dictator Games where no mention of religion was made, played online with anonymous strangers. Study 1 (N=15,827) found a significant correlation between belief and giving, r=.122 (robust to demographics). Study 2 (N=2,334) included the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) to examine whether this relationship could be explained by intuitive cognitive style driving both belief and prosociality. Study 2 replicated the correlation between belief and giving, r=.106, and found CRT to be negatively correlated with both belief, r=-.229, and giving, r=-.174. Critically, the relationship between belief and giving was reduced by 34% when controlling for CRT; and also adding basic demographics rendered the relationship non-significant. Our results suggest that – at least in this task and population – believers do show greater prosociality, but more due to intuitive cognitive style than belief per se.
Keywords: Religious Belief, Prosociality, Economic Games, Moral Psychology, Religious Psychology, Religious Cognition, Cognitive Style
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation