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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Thinking about Karma and God reduces believers’ selfishness in anonymous dictator games

Cindel White John Kelly Azim Shariff Ara Norenzayan
Originally posted on June 23, 2018


In a novel supernatural framing paradigm, three repeated-measures experiments (N = 2347) examined whether thinking about Karma and God increases generosity in anonymous dictator games. We found that (1) thinking about Karma increased generosity in karmic believers across religious affiliations, including Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and non-religious Americans; (2) thinking about God also increased generosity among believers in God (but not among non-believers), replicating previous findings; and (3) thinking about both Karma and God shifted participants’ initially selfish offers towards fairness, but had no effect on already fair offers. Contrary to hypotheses, ratings of supernatural punitiveness did not predict greater generosity. These supernatural framing effects were obtained and replicated in high-powered, pre-registered experiments and remained robust to several methodological checks, including hypothesis guessing, game familiarity, demographic variables, and variation in data exclusion criteria.