Thursday, July 05, 2018

Why are religious people trusted more?

A prevailing view is that religious behavior facilitate trust, primarily toward coreligionists, and particularly when it is diagnostic of belief in moralizing deities. Moon et al. suggest a further reason that religious people are viewed as more trustworthy than non-religious people: they follow 'slow life-history' strategies that tend to be sexually restricted, invested in family, nonimpulsive, and nonaggressive, all traits that associated with cooperativeness and prosociality. They find that direct information about life history reproductive strategy (i.e., a subject's “dating preferences”) tend to override the effects of religious information. Their abstract:
Religious people are more trusted than nonreligious people. Although most theorists attribute these perceptions to the beliefs of religious targets, religious individuals also differ in behavioral ways that might cue trust. We examined whether perceivers might trust religious targets more because they heuristically associate religion with slow life-history strategies. In three experiments, we found that religious targets are viewed as slow life-history strategists and that these findings are not the result of a universally positive halo effect; that the effect of target religion on trust is significantly mediated by the target’s life-history traits (i.e., perceived reproductive strategy); and that when perceivers have direct information about a target’s reproductive strategy, their ratings of trust are driven primarily by his or her reproductive strategy, rather than religion. These effects operate over and above targets’ belief in moralizing gods and offer a novel theoretical perspective on religion and trust.

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