Religiosity and Social Welfare: Competing Influences of Cultural Conservatism and Prosocial Value Orientation


concerning this article should be addressed to Ariel Malka, Yeshiva College, Yeshiva University, 2495 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10033. Email:


ABSTRACT This research examines the hypothesis that religiosity has two competing psychological influences on the social welfare attitudes of contemporary Americans. On the one hand, religiosity promotes a culturally based conservative identity, which in turn promotes opposition to federal social welfare provision. On the other hand, religiosity promotes a prosocial value orientation, which in turn promotes support of federal social welfare provision. Across two national samples (Ns=1,513 and 320) and one sample of business employees (N=710), reliable support for this competing pathways model was obtained. We argue that research testing influences of nonpolitical individual differences on political preferences should consider the possibility of competing influences that are rooted in a combination of personality processes and contextual-discursive surroundings.