Amber E DeBono, Azim Shariff, Sarah Poole, and Mark Muraven
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality · December 2016
Religious people differ in how punishing or forgiving they see their Gods. Such different beliefs may have distinct consequences in encouraging people to act in normative ways. Though a number of priming studies have shown a positive causal relationship between religion and normative behavior, few have primed different aspects of religion, and none has examined the punishing/forgiving dimension. In three experiments, Christians instructed to read and write about a forgiving God stole more money (Experiments 1 and 2) and cheated more on a math assignment (Experiment 3) than those who read and wrote about a punishing God, a forgiving human, a punishing human, or those in a control condition. These studies present a more complex and nuanced picture of the important relationship between religion and normative behavior.
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