We have been watching the national and international campaign by leaders against atheists, who appear to be fair game for hateful, ill-informed rhetoric. Even Newt Gingrich (who has been criticized for violating two oaths to God in having affairs while married) has campaigned on the need for any candidate to be faithful. Recent polls show these statements are playing to the majority bias against non-believers. Now, researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Oregon have released the results of a study that shows that religious people would just as soon trust a rapist as they would an atheist or non-believer.
An article published in the current online issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology contains various studies. One study involved a more liberal pool of University of British Columbia students involved a hypothetical of someone leaving false insurance information on cars. “People were far more likely to say he was either an atheist or a rapist and not part of a religious group.” The author noted “[w]ith rapists, they’re distrusted because they rape people. Atheists are viewed as sort of a moral wild card.”
Here is the abstract:
J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Dec;101(6):1189-206. Epub 2011 Nov 7.
Do you believe in atheists? Distrust is central to anti-atheist prejudice.
Gervais WM, Shariff AF, Norenzayan A.
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia.
Recent polls indicate that atheists are among the least liked people in areas with religious majorities (i.e., in most of the world). The sociofunctional approach to prejudice, combined with a cultural evolutionary theory of religion’s effects on cooperation, suggest that anti-atheist prejudice is particularly motivated by distrust. Consistent with this theoretical framework, a broad sample of American adults revealed that distrust characterized anti-atheist prejudice but not anti-gay prejudice (Study 1). In subsequent studies, distrust of atheists generalized even to participants from more liberal, secular populations. A description of a criminally untrustworthy individual was seen as comparably representative of atheists and rapists but not representative of Christians, Muslims, Jewish people, feminists, or homosexuals (Studies 2-4). In addition, results were consistent with the hypothesis that the relationship between belief in God and atheist distrust was fully mediated by the belief that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them (Study 4). In implicit measures, participants strongly associated atheists with distrust, and belief in God was more strongly associated with implicit distrust of atheists than with implicit dislike of atheists (Study 5). Finally, atheists were systematically socially excluded only in high-trust domains; belief in God, but not authoritarianism, predicted this discriminatory decision-making against atheists in high trust domains (Study 6). These 6 studies are the first to systematically explore the social psychological underpinnings of anti-atheist prejudice, and converge to indicate the centrality of distrust in this phenomenon. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved).
Source: Blaze as first seen on Reddit
FLOG THE BLOG: Have you voted yet for the top legal opinion blog? WE NEED YOUR VOTE! You can vote at HERE by clicking on the “opinion” category.