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Keywords:

  • religious context;
  • religious environment;
  • prosociality;
  • experimental study

Are people more prosocial in a religious context? We addressed this question through an experiment. We randomly placed participants in the control group in a neutral location (a lecture hall), and we placed participants in the experimental group in a religious location (a chapel). The participants then took part in a one-shot three-person public goods game, which measured participants’ degree of cooperativeness. The results showed that participants in the experimental group cooperated significantly more than did participants in the control group. Furthermore, participants’ beliefs about other participants’ cooperativeness were more positive in the experimental group than they were in the control group. Improved expectations of others partially explained the enhanced cooperation in the religious context. We found no main or interaction effect of self-reported religiosity in the experiment.