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Tolerating the "doubting Thomas": how centrality of religious beliefs vs. practices influences prejudice against atheists.

Hughes J, Grossmann I, Cohen AB - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Past research has found a robust effect of prejudice against atheists in largely Christian-dominated (belief-oriented) samples.Studies 1-2, in surveys of 41 countries, found that Muslims and Protestants (belief-oriented) had more negative attitudes toward atheists than did Jews and Hindus (practice-oriented).This research has implications for the psychology of religion, anti-atheist prejudice, and cross-cultural attitudes regarding where dissent in beliefs or practices may be tolerated or censured within religious groups.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo Waterloo, ON, Canada.

ABSTRACT
Past research has found a robust effect of prejudice against atheists in largely Christian-dominated (belief-oriented) samples. We propose that religious centrality of beliefs vs. practices influences attitudes toward atheists, such that religious groups emphasizing beliefs perceive non-believers more negatively than believers, while groups emphasizing practices perceive non-practicing individuals more negatively than practicing individuals. Studies 1-2, in surveys of 41 countries, found that Muslims and Protestants (belief-oriented) had more negative attitudes toward atheists than did Jews and Hindus (practice-oriented). Study 3 experimentally manipulated a target individual's beliefs and practices. Protestants had more negative attitudes toward a non-believer (vs. a believer), whereas Jews had more negative attitudes toward a non-practicing individual (vs. a practicing individual, particularly when they had a Jewish background). This research has implications for the psychology of religion, anti-atheist prejudice, and cross-cultural attitudes regarding where dissent in beliefs or practices may be tolerated or censured within religious groups.

No MeSH data available.


Negative feelings toward atheists, by participants' religious group membership. Error bars indicate ±1 SE. Different subscripts indicate that these bars differ from each other at the p < 0.05 level.
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Figure 1: Negative feelings toward atheists, by participants' religious group membership. Error bars indicate ±1 SE. Different subscripts indicate that these bars differ from each other at the p < 0.05 level.

Mentions: Our primary prediction was that Protestants would report higher levels of prejudice toward atheists than would Jews or Hindus. To control for individual or group differences in general positivity/negativity toward others, we included participants' feeling thermometer score for “people in general” as a covariate. An ANCOVA revealed a significant effect of religious background, F(2, 292) = 4.00, p = 0.02, η2 = 0.027. These results were significant and in the same direction without including the covariate, F(2, 293) = 5.26, p = 0.006, η2 = 0.036. As Figure 1 indicates, Protestants had more negative feelings toward atheists (M = 52.21, SE = 2.29) than did Jews (M = 44.41, SE = 2.92), t(148) = −2.00, p = 0.048; and Hindus (M = 43.95, SE = 1.47), t(244) = −3.16, p = 0.002; while Jews and Hindus did not differ from each other, t(194) = −0.15, p = 0.88. These results also held when controlling for participants' political conservatism, F(2, 287) = 3.15, p = 0.04, η2 = 0.022.


Tolerating the "doubting Thomas": how centrality of religious beliefs vs. practices influences prejudice against atheists.

Hughes J, Grossmann I, Cohen AB - Front Psychol (2015)

Negative feelings toward atheists, by participants' religious group membership. Error bars indicate ±1 SE. Different subscripts indicate that these bars differ from each other at the p < 0.05 level.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4561750&req=5

Figure 1: Negative feelings toward atheists, by participants' religious group membership. Error bars indicate ±1 SE. Different subscripts indicate that these bars differ from each other at the p < 0.05 level.
Mentions: Our primary prediction was that Protestants would report higher levels of prejudice toward atheists than would Jews or Hindus. To control for individual or group differences in general positivity/negativity toward others, we included participants' feeling thermometer score for “people in general” as a covariate. An ANCOVA revealed a significant effect of religious background, F(2, 292) = 4.00, p = 0.02, η2 = 0.027. These results were significant and in the same direction without including the covariate, F(2, 293) = 5.26, p = 0.006, η2 = 0.036. As Figure 1 indicates, Protestants had more negative feelings toward atheists (M = 52.21, SE = 2.29) than did Jews (M = 44.41, SE = 2.92), t(148) = −2.00, p = 0.048; and Hindus (M = 43.95, SE = 1.47), t(244) = −3.16, p = 0.002; while Jews and Hindus did not differ from each other, t(194) = −0.15, p = 0.88. These results also held when controlling for participants' political conservatism, F(2, 287) = 3.15, p = 0.04, η2 = 0.022.

Bottom Line: Past research has found a robust effect of prejudice against atheists in largely Christian-dominated (belief-oriented) samples.Studies 1-2, in surveys of 41 countries, found that Muslims and Protestants (belief-oriented) had more negative attitudes toward atheists than did Jews and Hindus (practice-oriented).This research has implications for the psychology of religion, anti-atheist prejudice, and cross-cultural attitudes regarding where dissent in beliefs or practices may be tolerated or censured within religious groups.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo Waterloo, ON, Canada.

ABSTRACT
Past research has found a robust effect of prejudice against atheists in largely Christian-dominated (belief-oriented) samples. We propose that religious centrality of beliefs vs. practices influences attitudes toward atheists, such that religious groups emphasizing beliefs perceive non-believers more negatively than believers, while groups emphasizing practices perceive non-practicing individuals more negatively than practicing individuals. Studies 1-2, in surveys of 41 countries, found that Muslims and Protestants (belief-oriented) had more negative attitudes toward atheists than did Jews and Hindus (practice-oriented). Study 3 experimentally manipulated a target individual's beliefs and practices. Protestants had more negative attitudes toward a non-believer (vs. a believer), whereas Jews had more negative attitudes toward a non-practicing individual (vs. a practicing individual, particularly when they had a Jewish background). This research has implications for the psychology of religion, anti-atheist prejudice, and cross-cultural attitudes regarding where dissent in beliefs or practices may be tolerated or censured within religious groups.

No MeSH data available.