Document Detail

Does religious belief promote prosociality? A critical examination.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22925142     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
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 quasi-experimental 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. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Luke W Galen
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Psychological bulletin     Volume:  138     ISSN:  1939-1455     ISO Abbreviation:  Psychol Bull     Publication Date:  2012 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-08-28     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376473     Medline TA:  Psychol Bull     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  876-906     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Psychology, Grand Valley State University.
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