Nonconscious influences of religion on prosociality: a priming study

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Abstract

Past literature on the automaticity of social behavior indicates that priming a concept automatically activates related behavioral schemas. In the two present studies we examined the impact of religion on prosociality. In the first study, we tested the impact of subliminal priming of religious concepts on prosocial behavior intentions. We found a main effect of this priming, moderated by valence: prosocial behavior tendencies were stronger when positive religious words had previously been subliminally primed. In the second study, we examined the accessibility of prosocial concepts, after the supraliminal activation of religion. Indeed, we found that not only were religion-related attributes more accessible when primed, but positive religious primes were also able to activate prosocial concepts. While previous research has shown the religion-prosociality link at the explicit level and in terms of the role of individual religiousness, these results indicate that religious concepts by themselves can nonconsciously activate prosocial behavioral schemas. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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